Sometimes virtues, well, they aren't what we make them out to be. Or rather, they don't bring the promised reward, that we're lead to believe they do.
I feel like I've been lied to for much of my early life, and yes, I know that's a cynical thing to say...but hear me out.
All my life I've been told that if I want something badly enough, or if I persevere diligently, work hard enough, that I can attain it.
That's how life works?
Well, break out the champaign. Let's have ourselves a party!
Don't get me wrong, that sounds like a sweet deal, but it actually does a sort of disservice to the people (including me) who've been subjected to this crap. See, what can subtly happen, with this sort of mentality (while very optimistic), is that it begins to generate unrealistic expectations for how life should be.
We actually begin to believe that life will work out, just how we plan for it too because, after all, we've done just what mommy and daddy, and all our school teachers told us from childhood on. We are going to be freakin' superstars dancing on life's little stage. All the world adoring our "special awesomeness."
Well, this just isn't true. And, while I don't advocate raising children to be outright cynical... I do think, that some realism is needed to balance this goofy thought process. If you've lived long enough to be disappointed, or to walk away from a dream, you'll know what I'm talking about.
You can do anything you set your mind too...well, not exactly.
It's not as if you can't do many things that you set your mind to... but to say that one can do anything one can set their mind to just borders the absurd. This is why, channeling our character strengths toward something can, at times, become real stupid, really fast.
I mean, come on folks, I'm not basketball material. As much as I would love to dunk like Jordan, I'd probably be as good at it as Shaq at the free throw line. Sorry if you wanted a baller mom and dad, but this boy just ain't pro athlete material, no matter how hard he works (work ethic), how high he jumps or how long he trains (perseverance), or how much ass he kisses (ambition).
Many people would love to be Fortune 500 CEO's, and they virtually kill themselves working their fingers to the bone, taking a lot of expensive classes, and end up having their own enterprise go bankrupt. Did they not have the virtues of hard work? Perseverance? No, they just mightn't have been very good business people.
And therein lies the rub. Sometimes, embodying a positive virtue, can actually be downright stupid.
A musician who pours their blood sweat and tears into crappy music, won't be redeemed by the fact that they have an exceptional work ethic. If they don't have the musical ear, no amount of production can change that.
An ex who is persistent, and relentlessly pursues her former significant other, trying her best to mend a relationship may very well be considered admirable...until the restraining order is filed against her. Then she's just a creep.
A fighter who trains relentlessly, and has an ambition to become the greatest fighter ever, gets knocked out, not because he hasn't put in his time, or persevered, but because his muscle structure only allows him to go so far, and he's bested by a more naturally athletic competitor.
A Chicago bears fan remains ever optimistic about the next football season... only to be sorely disappointed that, no matter how much faith he may have that his team will do better, his faith isn't rewarded.
...In fact it's completely shattered ever single season... You'd think...after three decades...Just ONE good season, that's all I ask, ONE. Something consistent even? How hard could it be? I mean, I could coach the freakin' Bears better than Lovie!!!! Can't you keep a damn quarterback? And what's up with the play calling, huh?........eh heh heh.........I mean.... purely hypothetically speaking, of course.
But I digress.
A person who has many virtues, also needs the wisdom to put those virtues into practice. It is my personal belief, that each person who is born has divine purpose. Now, how we may rank that purpose, in terms of human glory, accomplishment, or success is actually immaterial. Purpose transcends human definition, in my opinion. It is part of a greater story that's unfolding in the heavens.
So we need to use wisdom and discernment, and know when it's prudent to quit. To have the courage to take a new direction. That in itself can be a virtue, when you think about it.
See, when old dreams die, new ones are born. When we long for something deeply, and when we've invested our life, time, money and effort to pursue said dream, the hardest thing can be admitting when a new dream is realized. Do we have the courage to choose the wise thing to do, and to re channel our virtues, our character strengths where they belong? Or will we remain, trying our hardest to be something that, perhaps, we were never meant to be simply because we've been told we can.
That's the real question, isn't it?
Of course, if you dismiss this as hokum, then by all means do your thing. Here's a song just for you, should you crash and burn, to nurse your self esteem back to good health. ;)