I read a tweet from James Altucher that said, “Life is not about moving forward. It’s about being comfortable standing still.”
This surprised me. I know that it’s important to rest and be still.
But more important than success? More important than achievement? More important than leaving a legacy?
It sounds counterintuitive. In this country, it’s practically treasonous.
What about the good old American Work Ethic? Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and making something of yourself? Honoring the family name? (I could go on, but you get the idea.)
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s true. I just had to take a broader perspective of life.
What if you are Tom Hanks in Cast Away and you are stranded on a desert island? You’d better be comfortable being still most of the time.
Or consider the workaholic in Silicon Valley who is running six startups and sleeps two hours per night. He’s not just moving forward. He’s running.
If he keeps running and running, eventually he won’t be able to run anymore. He can’t move forward nonstop forever. His body can’t take it.
To keep moving forward, you must be able to stand still.
Work requires rest. That doesn’t mean: don’t move forward at all. You don’t have to move to a monastery in Bhutan.
But what about ambition? Drive? Passion? Sure. Those can be good. But there are times you won’t be able to do those things.
If you’re sitting at the back of the plane when it’s time to get off, moving forward won’t do you any good. You’ll run into a wall of humanity.
Better to be comfortable standing still, no? Read a book. Think. Just be.
Ultimately, you will be standing still for eternity. Or laying down. Whatever.
Are you comfortable with that?
Is it morbid to suggest that life is about being comfortable with death? Maybe. Or maybe that’s the entire point.
There are worse ways to live a great life than to start from the certainty that you will die. Now you have the ultimate context for everything you do.
And you will be able to move forward in whatever direction you please.