Sharp Reality

by debianjoe

“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”
― Epictetus

I  believe in constantly pushing myself to do and be more than I currently am.  In doing so, I am reminded of a few facts on a regular basis.  I suck at everything.  Programming regularly with Scheme has reminded me that I am terrible at Scheme.  When I spend more time with C or common-lisp, I’m far more certain of how much I fail at those too.  Every time I do something, my blatant failure rises to the surface.  I figure that this is good, as it means I’m still human…but just instantly getting things right would be cool too.

Still, I’ve come to realize something through lifting that might be worth sharing.  The longer out from gym or competition that someone has been, the higher their perceived ability.  It never fails.  Most conversations go something like:

Random Guy:  “Hey bro, how long have you been lifting weights?”
Me: “A few years.”
Random Guy: “Cool stuff.  What do you bench?  When I was in high-school, playing football, I benched sets of 5 at #700.”
Me: “….”

Normally, this is coming from a guy that I would say without a doubt has never seen more than #225 on a bar.  It’s like the longer that they’ve been out of the art, the more weight the imagination put on their own abilities.  After a few years, they’re mentally breaking world records.

That being said, regularly doing anything is a great reminder of where our abilities really are.  As I improve at anything, I meet opposition and utter failure which tends to keep the ego in check.  Ironically, perhaps, it’s when I’m really making improvements in my own skills that I feel utterly humbled by all that I don’t know.  Maybe there’s something to that.

This is one of the biggest reasons that I instantly turn off someone who’s always talking about how awesome they are at anything.  Every once in a while, it’s true, but more often than not, it’s the inflation of ego caused by not having actually done anything at all.  The people who do the most, seem to be too busy talking about the things that aren’t working over the things that they have fixed.

I guess if there is some way to summarize this inherent babbling, it’s “Stay humble…which tends to take care of itself if you’re making progress.”