Wisdom From A Wizard
Right Vs. Easy
© Wes Gow
[A version of this appears on the Huffington Post.]
Every fall my wife and I set about our annual journey through the Harry Potter movies. (Personally, I don’t believe there’s a better film adaptation or movie franchise, but that’s just me). Each year something new stands out, but so far nothing has hit me like the first time I heard Dumbledore deliver the following line:
“Dark times lie ahead, soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is — .“
You probably expect that quote to conclude with the word, “wrong.” I did. But it doesn’t. In this scene, a very popular boy at school has been killed by the world’s most infamous dark wizard, whose reappearance has yet to be fully confirmed by the wizarding community. In the face of confusion and turmoil, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore delivers a transparent warning:
“…we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.“
In the context of the story, the wise Headmaster knew that succumbing to the momentum of the powers of darkness would be easier than standing together in resistance. The latter choice would be far more costly.
So what’s that got to do with you and me? Quite a lot, at least for me, anyway. Not so much in regards to evil powers, but I do believe there’s a strong connection between these words and the general task of life navigation.
Right and wrong is a far more manageable dichotomy than right and easy. But hold on a sec, what’s so wrong with easy? Nothing, maybe. In fact, when it comes to one’s “calling,” proficiency plays an important role. If something comes easy to you, then probably you should pay attention to that.
However, over the last year I found myself slowly circling the belief that simply because something is easy doesn’t necessarily make it right for you.
- Following the the educational path laid out (and even paid for) by your parents may be easy. But is it right for you if it’s not your passion?
- Maintaining the career path and benefits and “security” of an industry may be easy. But is it right for you if it’s rotting your soul? (Whether or not there’s actually any security whatsoever in that job or industry is another conversation.)
Snooze buttons, swim lanes, and time clocks are easy. Lie there another nine minutes, stay in your lane, don’t rock the boat, walk the company treadmill.
Easy. Comparatively, I mean.
Investing in yourself in the margins, swimming against the current, asking the tough questions, and breaking rank for something better all require the one thing that most of us instinctively hate (or at least harbor a sincere fear of): change.
Right vs. Easy isn’t a question of morals or ethics, it’s a question about passion that only you can answer.
- Can you hear the question(s)?
- Are you listening?
- Are you willing to address them?
- Furthermore, are you willing to act on the answers?
Despite all this talk about easy, however, choosing what’s right for you is anything but. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Ever. Eeeee-ver. But if you’re going hard after your passions, the energy derived from that fulfillment is unlike anything that job security or a benefit package can provide.
I’ll end with a summary of my own recent story. Within 24 hours of my 35th birthday (summer 2015), I felt a gong go off in my head. I can tell you exactly where I was, coming off an exit ramp on my commute home. In that moment, I knew that something had to give. I’d been ignoring or silencing the tension in my soul for too long: I knew that my 36th year of life on this planet was going to hold something different from what I was currently doing. Now, fourteen of the hardest months of my life later, my ass is hanging out on the line in more ways than I’ve ever experienced (and would never have willingly chosen): launching a new company, pursing publication, even writing on this platform. All of it is supremely treacherous, risky, and full of way more change than I’m naturally comfortable with. None of it’s paid off. Yet. But I haven’t felt more alive and confident in the face of adversity in years, and I have no intention of retreating.
Financially, staying in my lane would’ve been much easier, much safer. But I knew I couldn’t; my soul wouldn’t allow it. I once came across a line of which there are many variations (and citations), “The things that bring you both fear and joy are probably the kinds of things you should be doing.“
If you find both joy and fear in the thought of something other than your current situation, then maybe you should start considering what’s right versus what’s easy.