Your move, chief.

When I was young I played a lot of roleplaying games, both pen-and-paper and on the computer. One core concept of those games was experience. The more your character in the game did things, the more experience he gained, and the more powerful he became. This has been extended to the concept of “gamification” – putting metrics on your everyday achievements to create a sense of growth and advancement. (This may or may not be true experience, but if even the illusion of it helps with motivation then what the hey, go for it.)

There have been variations on the same saying. The Daily Prompt says it’s “no pain, no gain”. I am a believer, but my go-to quote is from Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols. It’s been the footer of my personal email address since 2006.

Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.

That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.

I don’t know about “considerable hardship” but I do believe that the only way to gain experience is by doing. You can read a whole library of books. It’s still not going to give you what it feels like. I just rewatched most of Robin Williams’s work after his passing. This says it better than I can.

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the Pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy.”

The Good Will Hunting Boston Bench Scene says it best. Yes, it is extremely unlikely that anyone can attain “greatness” (however you would define it) without experiencing life.

Your move, chief.

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