A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lately the quest for consistency has lead me to a revelation. The only consistent in my life I appreciate is inconsistency. The freedom to change one’s mind at any moment. The random occurrences striking with no warning. The question is whether one can function in the world without striving to something more permanent.
On one hand, human nature craves consistency. We each fall into our comfortable routines. Get up in the morning, go to the same job, and go to sleep at a similar time every night. For many of us this is not only comforting, but necessary to maintaining our sanity in an unpredictable world wrought with chaos. Thus, we focus on maintaining the continuity needed to move forward in life. However, sometimes this type of thinking leads to a complacency that leaves us restless for more.
Some of us, however, are driven by the spontaneity that comes with ignoring the safety of stability. Jumping to any adventure that presents itself. Moving from job to job on a whim. Eating exotic foods. Obsessing on an activity or topic one day, just to disregard it the next. Never content to fall into a formulaic grind, it is a necessity to find something to shake life up as often as possible.
However, inherent in either of these approaches to life are potential problems. Take the focused, risk adverse individuals who reap the benefits of their regularity. This describes many of the white collar workers so prevalent in society. However, as alluded to earlier, living one’s life in this way may lead to a sense something is missing. Performing the same activities day in and day out eventually starts to lose its luster. Leading some to engage in destructive behavior out of a feeling of helplessness. Be it drinking away their sorrow, or engaging in adulterous affairs its all done to add some spice to an existence perceived to have lost its luster. Though, a complete lack of consistency can lead down a similarly destructive road.
Jumping from one state to the next, while exciting, is not without drawbacks. The ability to take risks and engage in activities deemed too adventurous for some, enable these individuals to contribute to some of societies greatest innovations. Yet, such inconsistency can lead to problems of its own. Lacking the ability to focus leads to many unfinished goals. Dedication to romantic partners is equally difficult when one is characterized by a sporadic attitude towards the elements of life. In many ways, the unsavory actions engaged in by those attempting to escape the consistency dominating their lives may merely be an element of the tumultuous lifestyles of those who favor the haphazard path.
Perhaps life is too complicated to really find true consistency. On the same note without the steadfast dedication to repeating the necessary patterns needed to function, society may cease to exist as we know it. As with most things, the key probably lies somewhere in the middle. Accepting and welcoming a fair amount of indiscriminate activity while maintaining the steady discipline needed to survive the rigors of reality is paramount.
In order to remain consistent, sometimes its important to throw it to the winds.