Say you’re a student and have a boring 10-page essay to write.

I know it’s boring, and you’ve still got a lot to do, but can you bear the boredom right now?

You’re not currently on the floor, dribbling softly in the fetal position, are you? You are strong enough to handle the sensations of the task in this very moment.

Then aren’t you able to bear it indefinitely?

“Oh but it’s not just this moment, I’ve got 10 more pages to write!”

Are you writing them in this moment?

No. Those pages, and the idea of writing them, are a simulation in your mind. The simulation is what hurts, not the writing of the pages.

The simulation adds extra suffering to the work at hand. Why are you feeling the pain of writing those pages now, before they are written?

Focus on the page you are on now – no, on the word you are on now. If that’s bearable, then the whole essay will be bearable.

“But those pages still need to be written!”

Let them wait their turn.

“But if I only focus on what I’m currently doing the whole time, then I’ll never know what it feels like to have 10 pages to do.”


You’ll have little moments, of course, of coming up for air. You’ll check how much you have left, and you’ll dive back in, secure in the knowledge that if you can handle writing the next word, you can handle writing the next 5,000. Each one will wait its turn.

That’s the good thing about moments. They never gang up on you. They line up in single file and patiently wait their turn.

If you can handle one, you can handle them all.