Do Your Own Work
I don’t want to come off like an old-timer, but we do have a problem today with instant gratification and it’s not helping your spiritual life.
We have come to expect that anything we want is within arm’s reach. If we need information, we jump online. If we need a physical product we go to Amazon. Our food is instant, our entertainment is ever present, and this all amounts to an unrealistic expectation of life. Think of all the infrastructure needed to maintain the illusion that the world is immediately responsive. And what happens to us amidst all this convenience? We forget that things take time, especially the good things in life. We give up if things look like they’ll be too hard or take too long. We search constantly for a “better and faster” way. Ultimately this ends up killing our sense of satisfaction, not enhancing it. Satisfaction is the sweetest after struggle; when we set ourselves against a challenge and come out victorious. It’s a function of time and work. When we attempt to feed that need with immediate results we are only reinforcing that part of ourselves that is always hungry for more and more and more. When we slow down, do the work, and appreciate our effort the result is a lasting satisfaction that does not clamor for an endless “more.”
My recent experience with this was building a studio shed this summer. I looked at all the options. I could buy a prefabricated studio, I could have one built on site, I could even have the fully finished building delivered via truck and placed on my property with no work needed. I didn’t do any of those things. I chose to build the thing myself with the help of family and friends. It took about six months, a lot of money and a lot of sweat, but in the end I’ve got something that I can really be proud of, and more than that I got the benefit of all the learning that happened during the project. Now I know how to construct a building. I know how to insulate it, heat it, wire it for electricity…I know every square inch of that building intimately. I also got the benefit of spending the summer working with my kids and my parents building something together. I guess a cliched way to say it is that the joy is in the journey, but it’s not just a cliche. It’s actually deeply true.
In our spiritual lives we encounter a lot of the same stuff. There are books of instant magick, promising your heart’s desire in 5 minutes or less. There are people out there offering to do rituals on your behalf, or who promise to connect you to such and such a spirit, and perhaps the most insidious are the folks selling services that seem to empower but are actually creating a dependent relationship. Do you think you’re going to get the life-changing results you want by not putting in any effort? It doesn’t work that way. You can’t buy enlightenment on Etsy. You can’t buy a PDF to work on your soul. Even if you could, you wouldn’t want to.
There aren’t shortcuts or fast tracks on the spiritual path. It is meant to be slow. You are meant to think and struggle. You are meant to expend effort and time in achieving your spiritual goals. There is no value in buying them. You’re missing out on all the good stuff that way. When you earn your spiritual progress you then also own your spiritual progress. You own the revelations of your experience, the learnings that you’ve taken to heart, the relationships you cultivate with spirits, and the experience of communion with the Divine which is unspeakably full of joy.
Do your own spiritual work. Build your own house. Learn as much as you can and savor the experiences along the way, because we will all get to the same destination eventually (The Eternal), what matters most for us is how we get there. The journey IS the destination.