Sunday, September 5, 2010

Doin' What I Gotta Do

I heard a young brother, one whom I know and love, say, "Doin' what I gotta do." While I can understand and appreciate the sentiment, I'm afraid it's a trap. We young brother's get caught in this trap pretty easily. Our lives are hard. Our struggles are longstanding. In our attempts to deal with our circumstances, we do what it takes to get by. Or do we?

Do what I gotta do is one of those catch phrases. It means I'll do whatever it takes to get out of this situation I'm in. The problem is that it has also become an excuse. Folks have found lots of ways to overcome a great many obstacles in life. Some are hard. Some are easy, or so it might seem. But we naturally gravitate towards the ones that feel easier or faster. A quick fix is a good fix, right? Maybe. But often times, those quick fixes are not the best choices, all things being equal. And that's where the catch phrase comes in. As a justification for doing the wrong thing, we say, "Doin' what I gotta do."

But, there's a problem with "Doing what you gotta." See, when you "do what you gotta", you are essentially insuring that you will be required to do it again tomorrow. Why? Because the quick fix is never a lasting fix. Its like telling a lie. When you lie, you have to remember the lie so you can tell it tomorrow. Tell enough lies and the burden of those lies becomes far more problematic than the original and perhaps uncomfortable truth.

The trick is, when you chose an action as a solution to a problem, that solution shouldn't create new problems. If it does, those problems should, in theory, be significantly less troublesome than the original problems. Otherwise your solution is counterproductive and therefore a bad idea. Too often, doing "what we must" really means doing what we probably shouldn't, because we don't have the patience and strength to do what we should. When we do this, we put ourselves in the position to have to do these things over and over again. We are not actually fixing our problems. We are putting them off.

I say all that to say this. Young brother, don't do what you gotta do. Do what will change your tomorrow for the better. You are struggling today. Accept it. Live it. But put in work to make tomorrow a little better for you and yours. That way, tomorrow, you won't being saying, "Doin' what I gotta do." You'll be saying, "Doin' what I wanna do."

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