“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt
A path diverged in Hong Kong. One was cracked, dirty and smelled disgusting. The other was clean, flat and featureless. I took the easy road, and it is making all the difference.
I have always had a very clear sense that when forced to choose between an easy option and a difficult one, it is far nobler to choose the difficult one. Nothing worth doing is easy, so it makes sense to go for lower salary, more hours and less recognition because it will give you some indefinable sense that you made the right decision. Of course, sometimes this is true. But not always.
Why is it that when things go well, we (I) tend to feel bad about it? Is it the knowledge that we (meaning anyone able to read this) are much more fortunate than most of the world and we already have it too easy? Is it the received wisdom that there is only integrity in doing things the hard way?
A few years ago, I had a choice: an easy job, close to home that paid well and was stress-free, versus a challenging job that paid poorly and was in an inconvenient location, but would be ‘a better experience’. Naturally, I chose the more difficult option – I mean, how could I possibly live with myself if I took the easy road? It’s certainly more than Teddy could bear.
As it turned out, the whole thing was indeed a good experience but when life threw up some costly, stressful and time-consuming challenges, as is its wont, I wished I had taken the easy road.
When faced with the same choice two years later, I chose the easy option. Now I have more time, more money and less stress. I’m OK with that. Are you?