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Advancing in Cycles

David Sherry
4 min read
Advancing in Cycles

I remember reading Catcher in the Rye in High School and having one specific line stand out.

It was about a student who just seemed to float through high school, while everyone else struggled… it was like they were flying forward with ease. As if somehow this teenager was immune to the daily troubles of most teens…

It was relatable in that for almost every teenager, life at that age is all over the place. High school is awkward, and you’re still learning who you are. You get embarrassed easily, and you’re always looking at those around you for feedback.

“What would it be like to simply advance without this struggle…?”

Much later, I began to see that there are two common patterns that occur in the stages of your life.

You advance – You make quantum leaps. You shift from one stage to the next. From child to adult. From student to professional.

When you are in an advancing stage of your life it’s like everything is going right and you are building momentum.

Things fall into place as you glide forward and then…

Suddenly you’re stuck in a repeating cycle.

After advancing you’re back where you were, with only minor details that are different, left with a few remnants from the advancing.

Still hung up on the same problems, returned to the same old postures and positions.

In the cycles we’re stuck in we get frustrated. Gliding was easy.

Repetition of bad habits that form our lows in a cycle make us feel like we have learned nothing and that we’re doomed to never advance forward again.

I’ve tried to understand those times when we advance.

And I’ve tried to understand those times when we’re caught in a cycle.

Through trial and error, belief, health, control, letting go, willpower, and attitude

What leads people to glide? And what dooms people to repeat patterns that keep you stuck?

No, this isn’t about habits…(willpower failure)

It’s not about mindset… (Trading beliefs)

It’s about orientation.

Orientation is a directional posture.

Intuitively we meet people and get the sense that they will succeed in an area no matter what happens, good luck or bad. They will directionally be successful in their chosen profession and it’s just a matter of time.

The quality and quantity of success can change, sure, but there is some type of inevitability in their direction.

Is it purpose? Pain, that’s driving them?

As I think through these topics, complexity begins to consume clarity as the number of factors in one’s life increase towards infinity.

Each person's experiences are entirely unique and infinite and scale.

Complexity, randomness, appear to rule.

And I lose my sense of understanding anything clearly….


What if it is the opposite?

What if everything is actually quite simple?

Our problem, then is the external chase to solve our problems with greater degrees of complexity.

Complexity covers up truth.

Complexity is the enemy of advancing.

Complexity pulls the wool over our eyes.

The person who glides… quite frankly is simply immune to bullshit.

Simplicity is difficult.

Simplicity means mastery.

“Eat real, whole foods, and not too much.”

That is all you need to know about diet.

“Do unto your neighbor as you would do unto yourself.”

That’s about all you need to know about dealing with others.

“Save more than you spend.”

Is practically the only necessary financial advice.

Humans are fooled by complexity.

Complexity is the weapon of the mind.

It tells us that the way must be more difficult. It must be more complex. There must be more problems for us to face. There must be some long and winding short cut we can take?

It is true that we are unable to create anything we want out of thin air... Work, creation, *does* take action and effort.

But it’s not complex.

It is deceivingly simple.

So deceiving that we don’t believe it.

So deceiving that we don't let ourselves sit still long enough to see it.

For the creative who wishes to write a novel:

You simply write the novel.

The problem, though, lies in our *belief* about the conditions in which the novel should be.

That the novel should be perfect, that the novel should be a best-seller, that the novel should have a beautiful cover.

The reality is that none of these are a guaranteed part of creation. But over time, as you write many novels… suddenly these parts tend to fall more into place.

The intention you have translate to reality as you gain skill.

To advance is to understand this reality, and not be dissuaded by the distraction of complexity.

To be advancing, rather than stuck in a cycle, is to not look for the complexity escape hatch when things get difficult.

Mastery, we believe, is achieved at the end of the road of success.

But it’s the opposite.

Mastery is understanding what success is before it is outwardly deemed to be there, before your vision is realized.

Mastery is the orientation of the successful.

This orientation allows you to move through positive and upward trending cycles towards achievement.

Mastery is not being caught in looking at how others see you. It is keeping your eye on the ball, on the book.

It’s not hiding from your work, or hiding from the world seeing your work.

It’s looking at the work for what it is.

It is simple.

It is a blank page that you are filling.

It is a post that you are publishing.

It is keeping your eye on the reality of the work being produced.

It is noticing that there is a leak in the bow that you are carving, which you must cover up.

It is noticing there is a blemish in the painting you are painting, and starting from scratch so as to create again.

It is being so simple, so radically simple, to cast aside the world's of complexity, recognizing that almost all of it is irrelevant.

Truth is in the here and in the now.

And to search for more, beyond what is necessary, using an escape hatch to delay and widen the distance between where you are and what you want…

That is of course a choice that you can make.

But if you end up in the same place…

You will know why.

Personal JourneySelf InquiryCreative Lessons