There comes a point in every person's life during which they're confronted by their own mortality. Although Death is an inevitability of the human condition, I would wager heavily that, early on, most of us never really take the time to contemplate our shelf lives. When we finally reach that realization it hits us like a ton of bricks and we're left reeling from the potentiality of a life metaphorically wasted. And why should we take the time to consider that? Pardon me for being crass but that shit's depressing right?
As I am naturally wont to do, I've spent an inappropriate amount of time lately ruminating on an unchangeable inevitability. I find myself struck at inopportune moments with these thoughts of: "What the hell does this all mean? Why should it make sense that we are born to simply die? What's the point of all we do if it ultimately leads to our expiration in the end, regardless of the legacy we leave?" This sounds bleak but it's an absolute: nothing we do here will stand the test of time but the only way that should interfere with us is if we let it. These thoughts seem to be more prominent as of late yet have been with me in some form or fashion over the past couple of years, haunting me like the ever-present spectre of mockery I've come to know them as.
So once you reach that realization, what do you do about it?
- 1) Do you try to fight it? Do you fruitlessly dedicate your life to the pursuits of Ponce De Leon and strive to find that mythical fountain which constantly restores your youth?
- 2) Do you acquire all the wealth you possibly can and go the way of Richard Morgan's meths, perpetually downloading your consciousness into new "carbon copies" of yourself until you descend into the madness of the eternities?
- 3) Or, more realistically, do you accept the fact the we are transitory? Do you find a system of spiritual beliefs which help you accept that your time on this plane is limited while simultaneously rededicating your life to some modicum of self service, conforming to the overall good of society while chasing those things from which you derive pleasure and joy?
I choose number three!
Acceptance of this begins with giving yourself permission to enjoy those things you find pleasing regardless of overall societal opinion. I never really allowed myself to chase a dream of writing because, from a fiscal standpoint it can be a fickle and rewardless pursuit. From my purview, the craft is seen on the whole as more a hobby than a profession unless you're gifted and driven enough to fight your way to the NYT best sellers list. Otherwise why bother? I was always engrained with this idea that creative pursuits aren't worth the professional merit because you, more often than not, drive yourself broke and discouraged before you, if ever, strike that gold. But I love to do it.
I never feel more alive than when i'm attempting to transcribe the often chaotic cacophony in my head. And isn't that what this life should be about? Realizing you have a passion for something, hooking it like a sailfish and reeling like a mad man on the deck of your life until your muscles ache; all the while supplementing those pursuits with the creature comforts we as humans desire?
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet - attributed to Jack London
While seemingly elusive to many, it is attainable for all. Enjoy your pursuits but don't sell yourself out in service to them. Do so responsibly. Build yourself a financial base which allows you the creative freedom to pursue those things and see where they take you from the comfort of financial security so you can retain the core integrity of what you love.
Don't merely jump headfirst into the unknown without first checking the servicability of your parachute.
Find a work life balance that fits you while allowing yourself to chase your passions. If you're not one of the lucky who have already figured it out, work that job that you may not necessarily enjoy yet provides you the freedom and stability to explore who you really are.
Strive tirelessly to find that spirituality that makes sense to you. Embrace those scriptures or texts that resonate to the core of who you are even if doing so flies directly in the face of long standing familial traditions. If you can wholeheartedly believe in something, do it. I get the feeling that my passion for the buddhist belief system rubs my parents the wrong way but it CLICKS with me more so than christianity ever did. So why should I abandon that which speaks true to me simply to fit myself into an uncomfortable and hopeless life? At the same time don't use a difference of opinions on the subject of spirituality to distance yourself from those you love. I'm not sure I'll ever see eye to eye with my parents on this matter but I still love them. We are unique in our lives, what's good for the goose isn't always good for the gander.
In addition to that, stop taking everything so SERIOUSLY. Stop letting other people's harsh words dictate your life. We are all unique, distinct beings with our own belief systems, morals, and ways of thinking so it's inevitable that we will come across others with whom our personal beliefs clash. Recognize these interactions as merely interactions. Accept that we are all different and unless someone is attempting to physically restrain or overpower you, their words mean only what your interpretations let them.
Forgive yourself of missteps. Who can say, when the lights are fading at the end, that they did it perfectly? Were there ever a blueprint for the perfect human existence it has long been trashed. You're going to mess up, you're going to step on each other, hell you're going to step on yourself occasionally. It's fine, do it once, twice, thrice. Eventually you will realize how to properly walk the path.
This is your one and only shot. Don't allow someone else to aim and squeeze that trigger for you.