The previous post got me to thinking about my old raiding days. I used to play World of Warcraft. The highest-end content required huge sacrifices of time and a lot of skill to complete, and resulted in rewards of the best weapons and armor available. Every few months this content was made much easier, so that less dedicated players could get those same rewards without nearly as much effort. At first this was met with howls of protest from the elites. Why should the unwashed masses get the same rewards as them for much less effort?
Eventually everyone stopped complaining. Partly because there was no use complaining, if you wanted to keep enjoying the game you simply accepted this and moved on. But also because the elite raiders realized they had gotten something for their efforts – they’d gotten the use of that top-end weaponry for months before anyone else. This gave them an advantage in all things, and it gave them a head start on everyone else when newer, harder dungeons were released.
The cyclical nature of the game really drove something home for everyone who has played it long enough: No gains are permanent. The world is always growing and expanding. Your opponents are evolving. And you must continue to strive and evolve as well, or you will be left behind.
The sexually-strict I spoke of the other day did gain something from their abstinence*. They gained freedom from those consequences while they existed, and the status of virtue to be had while it was offered. They feel, like many people do, that Gains Should Be Permanent. That once a certain amount of effort has been put in and a certain objective has been achieved, they need not struggle anymore. Anyone who’s ever cleaned their home should realize how futile that thinking is. Life is a constant struggle against entropy. You can never rest on your laurels for long. The world changes, and all the accolades and advantages you won in the past helped you for that time. It may have helped you a LOT, and maybe for a LONG time. But eventually that passes, and you must accept falling from the status of the elite, or continue to strive. No living off your Tier 2 Set for the rest of your days.
*well, the older ones did anyway. The young ones who have been hobbled by an ancient tradition are rightly bitter about it, but their aiming at the wrong target. Shed the old religion, don’t try to force the world back into the deplorable condition that made that religion adaptive.
Physical fitness works the exact same way.