The truth is most everything shifts moment by moment; little stays in place. And the human heart and mind are the most active. You just need to close your eyes for a minute and watch all the images darting about behind your eyelids; or to close your ears and listen to your heart’s arguments for and against come-what-may.
In fact, no matter how slow and deliberate we are about things, there’s always a hidden, inner readiness to rush out to do something. Only having grown cynical has taught us to slow down. For we’ve learned that powerful people have things done for them, so we hold back. But that’s a grave spiritual error.
After all, if we’re asked to steer clear of detrimental things so as to grow in our beings (as we’d learned in the first trait, “caution”), then we’d clearly need to seek out beneficial things. And that’s the gist of this second trait. The point is, though, that we’re to seek out good things enthusiastically rather than nonchalantly,=2 0because a lot rides on them.
For Ramchal defines “enthusiasm” as “the eagerness to do and complete mitzvot”. That’s to say that the sort of inner urgency that we’re encouraged to foster should touch on things that will draw us close to G- d. For we’re challenged to cultivate a rich and quickened urge for holiness.
But understand that all this that touches on a certain irreconcilable difference-of-opinion in the human heart. For as Ramchal puts it, “it takes as much conscientiousness and determination to take hold of mitzvot”, and to grow, “as it does to save yourself from the snares of the yetzer harah”.
“For … the yetzer harah tries by any means to have you fall into the nets of sin”, he says, and “it likewise tries to have you lose the chance to do mitzvot”. That’s to say that the yetzer harah not only tries to draw us toward wrongdoing, it likewise tries to draw us away from good. And that inner-standstill could be our undoing.
So if “you slacken off and become lazy instead of encouraging yourself to pursue” goodness, he warns, “you’ll … be left empty handed”.
The solution lies of course in invigorating yourself, egging yourself onward mitzvah by mitzvah, and not settling for slow-going, unremitting spiritual mediocrity. But that’s frankly more easily said than done. So, how are we to come to authentic enthusiasm? We’ll learn that later on. First, though, we’ll touch on the heart’s uncanny way of avoiding an active pursuit of goodness.