Learning to Live with Some Tension

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were easy solutions to life’s complex problems? Unfortunately, we live in a world where that is usually not possible.

The concept of easiness. Adobe RGB.

In the book The Road to Character, there’s a comparison between the message of President Eisenhower and President J.F. Kennedy. Eisenhower lived and taught that we need to learn how to live with the tension between our passions and the contrary self-restraint and discipline to keep them in check. Kennedy had a message of uninhibited action.

Kennedy emphasised limitless possibilities — Eisenhower warned against hubris (excessive pride).

Kennedy celebrated courage — Eisenhower celebrated prudence.

Kennedy exhorted the nation to venture boldly forth — Eisenhower called for balance.

I’ve witnessed in the last few years how life can be anything but neat and tidy. There’s pain and struggle while at the same time, joy and triumph. Those who hope for easy answers and quick fixes, are often disappointed by the harsh reality they end up receiving.

Eisenhower near the end of his life said, “we should never believe that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. We need to avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.”

I’m a believer in “going for it.” But I’m also conscious that I need to learn how to “hold back” and have those restraints in my life to be my best.

I don’t know what problems or challenges you would like to see go away or fixed, but I’m sure like me, you have then. What I’m learning, however, is that the problems and challenges we face may not have quick or easy solutions but may require the ability to balance optimism and patient endurance simultaneously.

Where in your life are you needing to live with some tension?

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