This is a great read by Erik Brown about striving. Erik examines the Japanese concept of Dō, the progress of an art, which hones not just the object of your craft but also your own soul. Getting better slowly, methodically, and fastidiously is underrated — much to our detriment.
Strive to Improve Your Life By Practicing The Japanese Concept Of Dō
The lifelong pursuit of a mind-body skill is the path.
We all want it easy, don’t we? Wishful thinking is a humongous industry. Self-help gurus thrive in the chasm between our aspirations and our lazy reality in an instant gratification culture. The fact is that what we really desire, deep down, isn’t the outcome, but the journey.
Dō, Erik tells us, translates as “the way”, and many examples of “ways” have been imported from Japanese culture, like Judo (Jūdō — “The gentle way”) and Kendo (Kendō — “Way of the sword”), and all emphasize a commitment to progressive self-discipline.
The katana — the distinctive curved sword wielded by Japanese warriors — is used often as a metaphor for Dō itself, since katana production is painstaking, requiring “time, reverence and concentration” to remove impurities from the steel and hone the blade.
What’s fascinating is that Dō is distinctly rooted in physical practice. You can’t simply follow a handbook for the desired result, you need to devote time and practice into your art.
What’s more, “the art doesn’t matter,” Erik tells us. “Whether you hold a pen, flower, or sword in your hand isn’t the point. The endless pursuit is all that matters.”
You are the katana.
I highly recommend Erik Brown’s writing. He humbly describes himself as a “connoisseur of useless information”, but most would beg to differ. Erik’s writing is a whirlwind of history, self-improvement and philosophy. It has immense breadth yet is often astonishingly connective. Erik observes similarities between things that, to most of us, seem wholly unrelated.