Aim High and Hit Low

Treat Thompson


Personal Essays

If I had to pick one word to be the theme of my life for the last three years, it would be “disappointment."

I’ve been following what Parker Palmer calls a formula for the good life: aim high, hit low, and feel lousy about yourself as you go.

I set a goal that requires perfection, I fall short, and then I beat myself up over it.

My internal dialogue is dominated by thoughts about these goals.

If you could read my mind, you’d hear, “let's get 100 more subscribers by next month,” and then next month, you’d hear, ”What happened? What is wrong with you?”

At this point, it drives my life. Aspirations, disappointment, and guilt are my rocket fuel.

The problem is that it drains my joy. One of the things I love the most in the world brings me so much mental anguish. I wish I was gleefully reading, writing, and publishing. But I agonize over wasting time and then write a piece out of vengeance.

What keeps me going is the hit of pleasure after publishing. I get a faint reminder of what I love so much about writing.

I also feel reborn — the Treat who aims high and hits low died with that piece. “Starting now, things will change.”

The ironic part is that despite constantly hitting lower than where I aimed, I’m still making progress that some would be proud of — just not me.

Externally my life is nowhere near where it was two years ago. It’s undeniably “better.”

But that’s not how I feel internally.

This year I’m making an effort to bridge the gap between my internal dialogue and reality. I should be more proud of myself.