Progress is sometimes more subtle and invisible than we might otherwise want to it to be. Whether it is teaching in the classroom, in our own studies or in the pursuit of a spiritual or religious practice. In most things in our lives the awareness of progress, making ground, forging ahead – making a difference; we want to see the effects of our hard work to know that it is not going to waste. To know that what we are doing is having some effect, contributing towards our goal. When those kinds of hallmarks aren’t so obvious it becomes increasingly difficult to hold onto your reasons for striving further forward. Stoicism is all well and good, but eventually being face to face with a seeming lack of differences between Then and Now gradually wears you out.
Its like riding into the wind, up a hill. Its easy at first. You put all your strength into the task, you work through the difficulty and then you look up and see how far you are up the hill. Not very far at all. You work harder, push your legs even more but its starting to get cold. The wind cuts through the shirt and jumper you put on, bites away at your hands, puts a hand on your forehead and holds you in place while you exhaust yourself trying to struggle against it, the hill and yourself all at the same time. An unsurprising number of people tend to give up at this point, letting themselves gently roll backwards down the hill until the get the bottom wondering why they are so tired and yet haven’t moved even an inch.
Praxis is, fortunately and unfortunately, much the same as learning a language or working in a new job; all three require you to put in more than you get out (at least initially) and trying to seriously do two or more at the same time is much like trying to have three jobs all at the same. Possible but not without significant hazards. Its easy to loose sight of the fact that even managing to get a little bit done each day is another step forward, another victory for you. Those are the things that you need to hold onto, with both hands. Without those small victories to help bolster your defences, you really do start to loose ground. Subtly at first, but it is similar to a piece of wire with a weight at the end. You need to keep the wire straight, to do which requires that you gently cause the weight at the end to start spinning. Get it right and the momentum basically looks after the process for you, though it takes considerable practice to get there. Making a mistake is like timing the rotations incorrectly or putting too much momentum into the process. Getting it wrong, otherwise described as ‘screw up’ and the weight snaps off, the wired twangs back and you’re left with a broken window and a ball of snarled and tangled up wire.
Always remember, some days its an achievement just to make dinner and get your hands on your runes for a few moments.