Chasing What Can’t Be Done

“Chasing what can’t be done is madness. But the base person is unable to do anything else.”


Some people can’t help themselves. They keep chasing after impossible things — imagined realities that will never come to pass, and unhelpful and unrealistic future scenarios. It makes me think of some of those sad American Idol contestants who just refuse to admit that singing isn’t their destiny.

It’s a sign of mental weakness to keep pursuing what can never be. Unable to realize the truth, unable to adapt and change course — chasing what can’t be done and refusing to accept it is a character fault, and a mark of insanity.

In The Daily Stoic today, the author says, “a mind that isn’t in control of itself, that doesn’t understand its power to regulate itself, will be jerked around by external events and unquestioned impulses.” That’s the opposite of what we seek, when we study stoicism. To be completely unaware of your limitations, and to suffer as a result of it — that’s not ‘bravely following your dreams’, that’s folly!

How to avoid this? We have to counter these tendencies with awareness of ourselves. Awareness will set you free, by helping you understand where you truly stand, what your weaknesses and strengths really are (not what you prefer to think they are).

If we honestly assess ourselves, it will help us avoid disaster. The key word here is ‘honestly‘ — we have to look ourselves directly in the eye and be clear about where we stand. That will ensure that we don’t chase after what can’t be done.

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