We have to compromise.
Life gives us imperfect opportunity. We fail to achieve the full measure of our hopes and dreams. So we decide to accept something less than we would like, less than our values dictate.
We have to.
But this truth is also an excuse we should be careful about. Often we tell ourselves we were forced to compromise when it was actually our preference. It was uncomfortable or risky to stay true to our values, our promise, our potential.
Mitigating risk is not a sin. But also perfect insurance costs so much that you lock in the loss up front.* So by a compromise that keeps you safe you may experience a worse loss than you were protecting against.
Along the Sacred Curve, compromise is insidious. The compromise you make today is not insulated from future-you. It changes the direction of your path and you chart lower, being less alive thereafter. You miss an opportunity to live more fully, you learn less and will necessarily miss other opportunities in the future.
You get in a habit of choosing to live lower on your curve, and your life becomes more banal, possibly more tragic. Those who live higher on the curve are less likely to recognize you, to know how to assist you or even relate with you. You are selecting your tribe of safe people who are fine with not living up to their own promise.
Consider not compromising. Consider using all your will and creativity to find a way to be true to who you were meant to be.
The very best couple I know do this all the time. They have lofty goals. They seem to me to always tell the truth, to others but more importantly to themselves. And they repeatedly choose to abandon comfortable paths that they can see won’t lead to their lofty goals. They live, often, in significant discomfort. They bear the stress of taking risks, of not knowing how they will survive the year. But they refuse to stay on a path that leads to a place that is not their chosen destiny.
Life is short and the darkness will certainly come So this is less about the destination. It is all about how we live each moment. If you are alive you are working to be as good as you can be. In the meantime you are seeking the sun to feel it upon the nape of your neck, to feel your muscles carry a load, to smell summer, to caress a cheek, to find a way to create greater kindness than you did yesterday, to struggle with putting a new language first into your head and then into your lips as a natural meter and flow. To learn all that has been learned about what it is to be human and question where you could be more so. Each moment it’s own happy emergency, a chance to do these things and more.
Or you choose to not achieve. It’s a reasonable compromise; the degree to which you achieve you will experience discomfort and assume risks and you might lose some or all of what you have, sooner. You have done enough. That yearning in you died or is otherwise locked away. Now you will offer the world no more growth, no more chances taken, and you will rest upon whatever comfort you have found, your curve diminishing towards it’s ultimate axis each day.
*”perfect insurance…locks up the loss”: insurance works where I pay a small amount to someone over time, and agree that if I encounter something catastrophic, that I will be paid enough to survive the catastrophe. But there is an infinite threat. All the riches in the world can’t keep me alive forever. So “perfect insurance” would cost everything in the world. If you pay for a sufficiently powerful policy, you will have already paid more than the loss you might have experienced. We must have risk. We can’t avoid it.