The Altar of Love

Don’t you just hate that happy couple? They’re always together. They always send each other lovey little notes and texts. And they’re always kissing. Always. They don’t seem to notice that you’re standing right there. No shame, none at all.

Ever get jealous? Wish they’d stop rubbing in your face just how lucky they got, while you’re stuck with an unsatisfying relationship, or none at all? Let me tell you, luck has so little to do with it.

It’s easy to miss all the hard work and sacrifice that goes into having a so-called perfect relationship. Quite simply put, it’s a challenge, one that most of us just aren’t cut out for. There’s a lot of effort that goes into constantly thinking about each other, reminding each other of that fact throughout the day, and finding ways of helping, supporting, or otherwise finding nice things to do for each other.

But the real hard part is self-denial. Human beings are different, and when they get too close they come into conflict. A successful intimate relationship requires a good deal of selflessness to be able to operate at such a close emotional distance. Literally every decision and action you make has to take the other person into account. That kind of exhausting, comprehensive, never-ending commitment is very difficult. It’s not for everyone.

So don’t feel jealous. You probably don’t want that kind of life. If decide that you do indeed want that for yourself, go for it. And good luck. You’re going to need it, for the path you have chosen is a hard one indeed.

The Altar of Success

Soak the rich! Those jerks are hoarding all the money, and not sharing any with us! They’re no better or different than the rest of us, anyway. Or are they?

Who wants to be rich? I don’t. The cost is too great. Sure, sometimes it’s a just a matter of finding the exquisitely perfect combination of luck, intelligence, and drive, making a pile of money, and then just sitting back and enjoying it the rest of your life. But most of the time, it’s not so easy. We’re not seeing all the sacrifice involved.

Most of the time, financial success comes towards the end of a long road. The sides of that road are littered not just with dead camels and milk jugs filled with cigarette butts, but also with the debris of broken lives and shattered dreams. We’re talking about his stress levels through the roof, turning his hair white at an early age. Her ideas constantly rejected, time after time, while business after business goes bankrupt. Him seeing his kids so rarely that he mixes up their names sometimes. Her inability to take a break from work that sank both her marriages. Does that sound like something you want? I know I don’t.

To become truly financially successful it takes an insane drive bordering on obsession. That’s the only thing that gets you through all the hard times. If you have what it takes, if you value wealth over everything else, and if you think that all the sacrifice and loss is worth it in the end, then go for it, make your millions. The rest of us who aren’t prepared to walk your treacherous path to success have no right to envy.

The Altar of Achievement

Some people just seem to have come to this world to make the rest of us look bad. You know who I’m talking about. He speaks five languages. She plays seven instruments. He makes six figures on the side… playing video games. She paints as well as Picasso, during her time off from being a professional martial artist and getting perfect grades in school.

Don’t you just hate those people? Everything is so hard for you, and so easy for them. Or is it?

What you see are the results. What you don’t see is the cost. Talents are cultivated through long hours of hard work. That world taekwondo champion? He practices six hours a day. That foreign language genius? She spends her Friday nights studying, and saves all her money for study abroad programs. That instrumental virtuoso? He has few friends, has had fewer girlfriends, and has never known what it was like to take a day off.

The greatest price of achievement is goofing off. Lazing around in front of the TV, spending hours trolling of Facebook, and browsing through countless pictures of bikini babes have got to be severely limited if you’re going to accomplish something. That’s not so bad. Most times, though, true achievement costs more than just that. It might just cost most of your life.

Don’t be jealous of the accomplished. You can get there too, if you commit to go through what they did. More likely, though, most of us, when we find out what they sacrifice on the altar of their achievements, will pity them instead.