I think it was in Darkship Revenge that Athena just started saying “Nothing is ever simple nor easy.”
I confess this is because at that time, just after moving, and knee deep in boxes all over the house, that’s what my life felt like.
But it’s something we forget very often. There should be a note along with “Everything worth doing is worth doing well” that says “everything worth doing will be hard and have setbacks.
Don’t believe me?
How many of you are married? And how many weeks have you gone through where you just weren’t feeling it, and then suddenly, inexplicably, the marriage was back to being the best thing ever? And as you go on the good times outweigh the bad or even the blah? I bet most of us go through that. And it’s not something we tell the kids. Who wants to admit that sometimes, because you’re sick, or tired, or — in our case, mostly — you’re both working obsessively at the things that demand your attention, you just CAN’T feel anything? But the end result is that young people expect marriage to be ardent joy and great happiness all the time.
How many of you have kids? How many times in the middle of it did it seem all lost? But you forged through, and you ended up with your children being adults you’re happy to know.
How about your career? How many times was it all lost. I swear there was a time I tried to give up writing once a year. And there have been low points even after publication. Heck, even after I was making professional money. I almost quit the year before I won the Prometheus. Then things started doing better, and there is a chance they will do very well indeed. Okay, probably when I’m eighty, but there is a chance.
As for large endeavors, managed by large societies, that’s even harder and has more ups and downs.
I keep hearing people say stuff like “How can we put a man on the moon and not be able to end poverty?”
Well, mostly because they’re problems of a different order and depending on if you define “poverty” as an absolute or a relative quality, we already have. But that too wasn’t as easy as it seems.
Sure, going to the moon was relatively a rapid thing from the moment we (well, okay, the Wright brothers) first flew at Kitty Hawk, but there were still times of turning back and times no one thought we’d do it.
As for the discoveries from Europe…. Brother. Portugal first discovered the mid Atlantic islands, and then seemed to forget about this far-from-shore navigation for a while.
Probably people saying it was too hard and why were they doing it? And wouldn’t it be better to solve the problem of poverty and make sure there was a sardine in every pot?
Solving poverty too, for that matter. For every step forward there were two backward, but we continued, and now our poor are richer than the kings of old, and Midas in his glory was never so well fed.
Human enterprise, human progress has its ups and downs, and there’s the inevitable luddites who think we’d all be much better for staying put, or redistributing today’s poverty, or, of course, throwing our hands up and giving up on humanity. (Like the precious snow flake recently preaching against having ANY children, because they hurt muh environment and possibly muh feelings too. Because they hate themselves so much they must hate the whole human race, too.)
It reminded me of going recently (with my publisher, and a few other writers) to the Redstone rocket test stand.
As we were leaving Toni (Weisskopf, Baen publisher) said “If we’d come just a couple of years ago, this would have been depressing, the historical tour of an abandoned endeavor. But now… well, now we’re sending things to space, and talking about going to space again, and there’s hope.
If we stay the course, if we keep going, there is a chance we’ll get somewhere in space, perhaps even to other star systems. Which right now seems impossible, but these things always seem impossible until you start working on them (and sometimes several points along the way.)
The thing is, it seems to me, or at least in my experience, that nothing worth doing is ever easy. Or simple. And if you’re really fortunate and get great success handed to you on a platter nine times out of ten you turn your back on it, despising it, or else break at the first real difficulty.
I’ve seen more potentially good writers be destroyed by having their first novel accepted than by having to struggle through ten novels to sell one at last.
Heinlein said humans are made to overcome adversity, and if we have things too easy:as humans, as societies, or as individuals, we go to pieces.
Fortunately, I’m not at risk for that. Nothing is ever easy or simple. And yet I forge on, and often end up getting what I wanted all along.
This is why it’s vital to have challenges, like the conquest of space, or interstellar flight. Because humanity as a whole needs things that aren’t easy or simple.
We need to continue achieving. Else, might as well let the snowflakes convince us to stop breeding, and end up extinct or with the sort of population that won’t support agriculture let alone a technological society.
Nothing is ever easy or simple, and yet, as humanity battles on,you could say we’re working to specs.