Somewhere along the line, we got the idea that after a certain period of tweaking and polishing, we would get to some pinnacle in our lives and we’d get to stop working on things. We’d have the perfect relationships, the perfect diets, the perfect jobs and no money problems whatsoever.
I blame the Greeks for this platonic ideal of Static Equilibrium. Because it doesn’t exist anywhere in the natural world. What exists instead is Dynamic Equilibrium.
The Boom and Bust Cycle of The Natural World
A great example of this is rabbits. Rabbits do not have family planning. Therefore, when food is plentiful, there are lots of rabbits. Lots of rabbits encourages, however, the subsequent increase in the number of predators (who are eating very well) and a decrease in the amount of food available. These factors leads to a decrease in the number of rabbits, and subsequently thins the predators as well.
This is an age-old, regular cycle that occurs in every non-“managed” ecology.
Humans, as a rule, do a shitty job of managing ecology. Or economies. Or basically any complex system. We simple can’t handle all the variables and permutations. Mathematicians are just beginning to grapple with these concepts in the abstract, and we can’t handle real world modelling yet. Which is why we simplified them in the first place.
The Platonic Ideal is an Abstraction
A model is not reality, and in reality, any complex system will likely experience its own deviations from the mean. These deviations will not be likely to form any discernable pattern, but you can be certain they’ll occur.
What does this mean for you?
Don’t expect things to be all peachy-keen all the time.
Expect to have the occassional bad patch in your health, your relationships, your business. Don’t immediately leap to the conclusion that it’s a failing or mistake on your part. Cycles wax and wane. Shit happens. Life goes on.
For that matter, stop characterizing it as a “good patch” or “bad patch”. Remember the parable of the wise farmer: You can’t know if things are good or bad.
But most of all know that you’re never going to stop striving for the ideal. You’re just not going to always hit it. And that’s okay.
How can you use this new understanding of randy rabbits and their boom and bust cycle to manage your life?
P.S., Sarah and I have a class on handling change on Wednesday. Maybe after you comment you’ll want to sign up!