Discipline and Freedom.
When you are younger, it’s often harder to see how the moments that we experience and the key decisions that we make can lead to a larger picture – to see the full picture of things which, as I think about it now, is often also hard to see even as an adult with the benefit of time and experience.
Amid the dizzying complexity of this strange picture, there is one thing that I’ve come to realize for sure, though – and that is that discipline is a wonderful thing.
Every day that I live on this planet, I’m reminded that discipline is a wonderful thing – it’s one of those things that maybe a child might hate at the outset of life, but like many other things, it’s something that’s both crucial, essential, and desirable in the service of a higher purpose.
I remember many days in the past, for example, when I would hate on discipline, thinking that I simply wanted ‘to be free’ to do whatever it was that I wished.
I mean, it sounds cool, doesn’t it?
Wake up, watch TV, play some video games, eat some snacks, and maybe fall asleep again at no particularly set-in-stone time of the day…
The ‘freedom’ to do nothing, to move how you want, to go where you want, to do what you want at a given moment.
For a long time, this appealed to me a ton, and I can’t deny that even now, there are some days when I just feel like doing nothing in particular (even though they are a lot rarer nowadays).
Nowadays though, I think I probably wouldn’t call that anything close to freedom.
First of all, if it really is ‘freedom’, it’s a rather trivial sort of freedom, isn’t it?
Is it the freedom to go places? No it’s not – you need the energy, money, and the decision within you to do that. Is it the freedom to fall in love deeply with someone and feel the light change around you as if you’ve begun to touch the rays of radiant sun for the first time in your life? No it’s not to do something meaningful, to chart a course of which you can be proud, to fulfill your desires and greatest dreams from the comfort of your home?
There are many things in life that are too large for any individual burst of energy, whim, and flight of fancy to tackle – whether that’s playing the piano, running a business, writing a book, creating content, it’s all the same; there is precious little in the world that a person can do if they don’t put their heart and their soul into seeking out a process that is going to bring them to where they want to go.
To receive energy and earn a living, you need to create something meaningful or serve someone well – discipline.
To maintain a relationship with your friends and the people you love? That’s discipline again, in some ways.
To play the piano like Rachmaninoff or the cello like Yo-Yo Ma, to dance as the swan does or to embody Yuzuru Hanyu? You probably know already, especially considering all those tales about how child prodigies start early, push themselves for hours a day, and then only level up to become truly incredible at what they do!
For all you know, perhaps I’ve just become one of those silly, boring adults that I used to look at as I wondered why they would do the same things all day and go after process. Who knows?
In any case, my beliefs now are very different from the ones that I held when I was much younger – because for the me of the now, discipline isn’t the opposite of freedom; far from it!
Rather, discipline itself is freedom… and with that, I’ll rest 🙂