A kick in the back will usually do it, but it’s not the preferred method of antegrade motion. Nevertheless, some form of stimulus, either a positive reinforcement ahead, or a negative reinforcement from behind - the so-called ‘vis a tergo’ - such as the kick in the back, will be needed for progress to be made.
Our progress along the paths of life are strewn with potholes, which, in descending order of magnitude (in my experience) go from Mozambique, India, South Africa to Canada. I had thought that Canada would have impeccable roads as an apparently civilized country, but despite the almost continuous presence of construction workers on our highways, the results of their labours seem temporary at best, and plain daft quite frequently.
So it might seem a better option to sit at home and veg, rather than risk your oil sump or big end being ruptured. If that sounds somewhat painful and personal, rest assured that I - who knows little to nothing about cars - am reliably informed that the big end is something that wraps around your crankshaft. (No, ladies, please don’t go there!)
But sitting at home and vegging is obviously not going to take us very far, and if we don’t keep moving, someone will just come along and blow the dust off us from time to time and eventually ignore us - or possibly toss us in the rubbish or bury us. Therefore the option of sitting still does not provide positive outcomes.
In order to keep moving forward - from our perspective then - it is best to have a goal to move towards, even if that goal only takes us as far as the next meal. That has always been enough for Niko - and, when Sheila and I were in Thailand, we found it worked for most Thais too. They were humorously proud of that mind-set.
As I gently increase in years, I try to follow my own advice that I gave patients when I had to tell them they had cancer; I would say that ‘life doesn’t end with this diagnosis, but it does take on a new meaning, and we need to re-set our agenda.’ I didn’t usually say, ‘Don’t go out and buy any long-playing records, or start watching a new series on the TV’ - but sometimes that would have been appropriate. Thus, I try to set myself achievable goals; a good book on this is ‘Atomic Habits’ - I can’t remember the author now, but you can (of course) find it on Amazon. Small measurable gains are a real achievement in the course of a life; remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare.
Progress in our spiritual lives is also important. If we hope to have any wisdom to impart to our children and grandchildren, it is vital that we learn from the lessons that life has to teach us. One of my friends told me that humility was all about remaining ‘teachable’ throughout life; I think he’s probably right. Once we think we know it all, we’re doomed; not only that, but life becomes boring, because the ennui that accompanies your hubris will not allow you to see the beauty around you, nor the instruction that God is placing in your path.
Are we back to potholes, then? Far from it; we are just beginning to open our minds to the limitless possibilities of learning, if we allow our God to lead us on our path. Another friend of mine says this prayer every morning when she wakes up; ‘Dear God, please get into my head before I do.’ I have now begun to borrow that prayer from her.
If we were all to make this our first thought for the day, we might really achieve some progress in a forward direction along the road of salvation. Just think what might be achieved if our world leaders also adopted this stance!