How to Fight a Hydra

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A simple and universal metaphor can be essential for those challenges in life that cannot be explained through words and are uncomfortable to face.

How to Fight a Hydra by Josh Kaufman uses metaphor in some obvious (and less obvious) ways to powerful effect. It is a very short book (45 mins to one hour maybe) and that’s a good thing. It’s engaging and potent stuff. Might not be what you expect, but that’s kind of the point.

I have settled into a routine. In the morning, I eat, exercise, practice wielding my sword and torch, then pack up and search for a few hours. After the day’s travel, I forage, hunt, and collect pine resin and firewood. In the evening, I make dinner, render lard from the day’s hunt, and make new torches. The routine is comforting. I don’t have to make new decisions about what to do each day. I’ve already decided, so I don’t have to think: I can get straight to work.

We want to be assured of the outcome before we invest. We want to know what’s going to happen before it happens, so we can enjoy the good and avoid the bad. We want the maximum rewards for a minimum of effort and cost, and we want the path forward to be clear and unobstructed, free of pitfalls and branching paths. We want the benefits without the risks, without experiencing any form of emotional distress. We want the world to bend to our wishes, but the world is under no obligation to give us what we want.

Comments welcome!

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