We came from Caladan
A paradise world for our form of life
There existed no need on Caladan
To build a physical paradise
Or a paradise of the mind
We could see the actuality all around us
And the price we paid
Was the price men have always paid
For achieving a paradise in this life
We went soft
We lost our edge
- THE SLEEPER MUST AWAKEN by Akira The Don
Dune is the new hot sci-fi universe that is being brought up on the big screen. It is considered "Game of Thrones in space while everyone is doing psychedelic drugs".
The first book shook the literary world, with concepts such as advanced ecology to transform an arid desert planet into a big green paradise. That was in the 1960s. And it has shaped far more cultural icons than we could possibly imagine.
The book tells the story of the descendants of humans who defeated AI and decided they would never again build machines with the intelligence of humans. These descendants then had to evolve way past their theoretical biological limit.
Humans had to evolve and to do so, they had to go through tremendous challenges. And the most powerful warriors in the galaxy ended up being the ones born on a planet that is devoid of any comfort, safety, or even water. Those are the Fremen.
This seems almost contrary to today's world zeitgeist, where we run away from challenges and look for comfort wherever it may lie. The Fremen not only had to suffer hardships but embraced them completely.
To be fair we also have those who talk about embracing a hard life in social media, with almost an obsessive vein to it. The "torture yourself to become great" vibe.
I'm here to bring a somewhat different argument to the table. The argument is that we must grow, or we decay. That there is no fulfilling human life without challenges, and that seeking comfort to the exclusion of challenges makes life worse. But that growth doesn't come through self-torture.
Personal Development is Cringe
There's a trend of "improving yourself" becoming "cringe".
And I don't blame people for thinking that. I'm fed up with gurus of self-improvement that are just greedy cash grabbers.
The "you must wake at 4 AM, work hard nonstop, and only think of winning" kind.
That's not self-improvement. That's self-destruction.
There is no Growth without pain. "No pain no gain" is a nice start, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
There is a time and a place to work hard, but as any Olympic athlete knows, rest is just as important.
In order for Growth to occur, you need time to rest. You need resting days in the week for your muscles to grow, and you need resting in your day-to-day life so that your mind can grow as well.
I started this text with the thought "We Must Grow", so now I'm going to make a case for growth vs. inaction.
Now that we understand what's missing from "hustle culture", we can get to the real thought behind this article.
Anything in nature that doesn't grow is doomed to decay. Nature doesn't know stability, it only knows change. If you lay in bed for weeks without moving, your muscles will atrophy. Do it for long enough and you might never recover.
The only things that are stable are dead. Now the human world has tons of places where unnatural stability occurs, but it always comes crashing at some point.
There are retired folk who do nothing all day and become bored, bitter, and unhappy with their lives.
There are retired folks who keep challenging their brains and their bodies and are living the time of their lives.
And there are many degrees in between them.
The point is, without challenge, our health deteriorates, our talents fade, and our minds break down.
To which degree you want that to happen is up to you.
But if you want to live your best life, one thing is certain, you can't run away from those wonderful opportunities of growth.
True happiness is not over sheltering yourself from the pains of life.
It's to learn to surf the waves, to see what your body mind, and heart are capable of.
It's not running away from danger, and neither go into it recklessly.
You need safety, and you need danger.
Without the first, you become an anxious mess of a person, broken and incapable of lifting yourself up and growing from life.
Without the latter, you become a depressed shell of a person, incapable of feeling true joy and excitement in life.
We need Safety, but we also need to Grow.
And if you start taking challenges one by one, with baby steps if you have to, you might find inner strength and resilience where you thought there was none.
Life, then, expands with new possibilities.
“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune
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