Friday, 6 March 2009


If we are to achieve anything great, we are told we need discipline. What is generally meant is that we stick at it when we are tired or thinking about giving up. A novel for instance, might take months if not years to wright. If you gave up after three or four chapters because you then had a 'better' idea, nothing would ever get finished.

I think this overstates the point. Most of us live pretty mundane lives. Everyday is much like the one before. After you leave school, years seem indistinguishable from each other. I could not tell you a big difference between 2003 and 2004. They have melted together in my memory and it would take a real effort for me to tell the difference.

When this has happened we have bought into an idea, i.e. that living as an adult looks something like getting a regular full time job. You get up at the same time every morning and go through the same routine. You take the same route to work, have the same breakfast and buy the same newspaper.

If you work in an office you might even go through the same ritual. You buy the coffee out of the vending machine before reaching your desk. You sit down, take a deep breath and ask the same colleagues the same questions. 'How is everyone this morning?'

This type of discipline does not achieve anything great. Rather, you have become a disciple to a working ethos. As a slave to the grind, you have become switched off to other possibilities.

There is another type of discipline. You can push yourself to think of something different and fresh everyday. To attempt to write a poem or song may not have an immediate effect on your circumstances- but it does keep you awake. It keeps you sensitive and open to other courses of action. Day dreaming keeps your soul alive.

The wrong kind of discipline only turns you into a zombie.

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