There’s this quote by Jerzy Gregorek, this Olympic weightlifter, that I can’t help but hear in a thick Polish accent:
hard choices easy life, easy choices hard life.
Quotes usually work because they say so much with so little and this one really goes above and beyond in simplicity.
Simply put, Gregorek is telling us that a life filled with pleasure seeking and procrastination (easy choices) will inevitably lead to a difficult life as one’s disregard for time catches up to them. Inversely, a life filled with making the right decisions, which are usually difficult, such as getting out of bed early or choosing between Netflix and studying, will be hard in the present but will also pay-off in the future. Your life will be easier.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote in his charming grammar: Nothing any good isn’t hard. It always seems like the things in life that are the most worth it are also the most time-consuming and gruelling to attain. Is this really true or are we blindingly committing to some sort of Calvinist work ethic? maybe just because something is hard to do doesn’t mean its worth it. Eating 30 pancakes is difficult but likely worthless. Of course you can take the hard nihilist stance and argue that even seemingly worthwhile acts such as love or some form of legacy building is worthless in the grand scheme of things.
I actually find that Gregorek’s words hit on something a little different and a tad more metaphysical: this idea of homeostasis between pleasure and suffering. It’s an idea that is famously touched on by Nietzsche.
What if pleasure and displeasure were so tied together that whoever wanted to have as much as possible of one must also have as much as possible of the other — that whoever wanted to learn to “jubilate up to the heavens” would also have to be prepared for “depression unto death”?