It’s hard to know when you are forcing something that can’t be forced and when you are participating in the flow of something that is asking you to do what’s hard. What is the nature of the struggle? Wanting, willing, desiring, are often necessary to the struggle, to the effort to effect the good upon the earth. They bring out the best in us in the work to do what is us. We have to be determined and dedicated in the service of the good, because it isn’t easy to do what needs to be done. We have to beat our heads against some walls, because some walls have no business being.
What is easy is to question our motive and to talk ourselves out of doing what’s hard. What is easy is to lose our resolve; to see resistance as a sign that we should quit; to look at difficulty as evidence that we are not the ones who are “supposed” to do the difficult thing.
Churchill or Gandhi (I’ve seen it attributed to each) said nothing worth doing can be accomplished in a single lifetime. And that doesn’t help us a bit. How do we know if we are working away at something that is worth doing, or wasting our lives in the pursuit of delusion and emptiness, too stubborn or selfish to quit? How many 49er’s spent their lives digging holes to nowhere? How do we know if it is a mine that we are working or a hole that we are digging?
I don’t know of any way of determining whether the path we are on is the one we ought to be on, or if there is another, better path with our name on it somewhere else. This is the path we are on. Are we going to stay with it? Make a decision. That’s the best I can offer. Make a decision, “for better or worse,” and reevaluate it from time to time. Maybe you are one shovel full from turning a hole into a mine. Maybe it will never be anything but a hole. There is no way to know what you should do. What are you going to do? That’s the question. Just make up your mind, that’s the answer.
Of course, you might try listening to your body. Sit down, make yourself comfortable, center yourself by being aware of your extremities and moving into the center of your body with your awareness. Settle into this time and place, and ask “Dig?”, for instance, and see how your body responds. Feel what happens in your body in response to the question. Go to that place, or those places, with your awareness and say, “Hello. What’s behind the (and find the word for what it feels like in your body at that place) tightness (for example) all about?” And listen to what the (tight) place has to say. Then say, “Thank you for that. Is there anything more there?”, and listen again.
When that place is spoken out, see if there are other places in your body that feel something in response to the question, “Dig?”. If so, go through the same exercise with those places. Then ask, “Quit?”, and listen to your body’s response. Our bodies know things our heads are completely clueless about. Yet, our heads often have to get to the end of their rope before they will give our bodies a chance. It isn’t easy, being us.