You need a little friction


“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”
–Henry David Thoreau

What you think is holding you back might be holding you afloat. This is not an endorsement of Type II fun. It’s the idea that the obstacle is the way. That when it comes to growth, the path of resistance is the preferred route.

Your intuition supports this. You can’t download a new language to your brain; you must muscle through a forest of clumsy, halting, accented speech. It’s awkward and embarrassing—even painful at times. That’s how you learn.

Hormesis is the idea that a toxin or stressor can actually make you stronger. Sometimes that stressor is a new way of being or thinking.

The cult of convenience strives to avoid any awkward friction. Exercise is tiring: here’s a pill for that. Reading is boring: here’s’ a TikTok summary. Expertise is time-consuming: listen to this podcast instead. These placebos miss the point. Knowledge is not the same as information. Growth is both the bumpy path and view from the top.

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl describes how suffering and adversity can be potent sources of meaning. And meaning provides context (Culture is what is rewarded) for growth. Meaning gives a story to the resistance, and there is no journey without resistance.