karma

5. Avoid Short-Cuts

By M.K. Styllinski


Wile E. Coyote | © Warner Brothers

“… shortcuts are dangerous; we cannot delude ourselves that our knowledge is further along than it actually is.”

— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
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Reading time: 10-15 mins

Once we have a sure-fire aim and its family of objectives then comes the panoply of short-cuts to tempt you. This feeds into our anticipation that’s ready to snap at the slightest whiff of a free lunch to carry us in guilded style to our destination. As anyone who isn’t a snake-oil salesman will tell you: this is an illusion – often a very tempting one, but an illusion nonetheless.

There are no short-cuts to self-development in any shape or form whatsoever. None. Zilch. Nada. A free pass has to be earned and no amount of clever marketing can alter that fact. And believe me, having probably tried most of the tantalising diamond-studded detours and persuasive paths of instant fixes over the past few decades, I learned the hard way, which is usually the best way, though not a bundle of fun.

                        Wile E. Coyote | © Warner Brothers

In other words, I discovered that trying to ram that square peg into a round hole for the umpteenth time doesn’t work whichever angle you come at it. Doesn’t matter if its shaking the sweaty hand of the loan shark or trying on a fake persona to get you the girl, short-cuts are the mythical sirens on the rocks wiggling their ample bottoms and tossing their lustrous hair as you try to half-heartedly steer your tug-boat away. Short-cuts make you want to wave back a little too vigorously; toot your whistle, let out your sails and steer a course to voluptuous success. But as sure as the sun rises in the morning, you’ll sooner or later end up on those rocks with the ship of your lofty aspirations  sinking below the surface. Feeling foolish and crestfallen can be beneficial, but it might take several passes before you get rid of that mindset.

This is especially true when it comes to bettering yourself or following a metaphysical path, so called. Anyone that tells you otherwise is just selling something. If you take the short-cut then you miss the whole point of process. And let’s face it, unless you’re a psychopath whose default position is to consume and destroy, it isn’t going to work for you, not if you seek authenticity over artifice.

Some folks seem to sail through life taking advantage of every short-cut available, whisking them to the top of whatever pyramidal pile of goodies matches their desire. What you also might remember is that such a position is rarely stable and even less sustainable in the long-term. The fallout from taking these short-cuts usually involves a shit-storm of unintended consequences which eventually finds their way back to the instigator. The Hindu/Buddhist concept of karma comes to mind.