It Begins by Seeing Each Other as People

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

— Gwendolyn Brooks

We live side by side. We go to work together, shop together, sit next to each other in movie theaters and walk past each other on the street, and we don’t see each other at all. We don’t know a thing about our neighbors or the people living in the same spaces as us. We won’t look the cashier in the eye. We don’t have the patience for other drivers on the road. We don’t care about our coworkers weekend, even if we ask. We don’t want to help. We don’t want to hear it. Hell is other people, right?

And that’s just the people we see day-to-day. Then we get online, on Twitter, on Facebook, on our blogs where people are even people anymore. We jump into the comment sections under YouTube videos and articles on our preferred news and opinion sites. We turn on the TV and see nothing but violence and feel fear.

Soon other people aren’t even people anymore. They are obstacles and annoyances. They are different and dangerous. They are the other side, the enemy. They think differently than us, they feel differently than us and anyone who is different from us doesn’t matter. They are wrong. They aren’t worth the time.

Indifference grows to hate, and people never run out of reasons to hate. They hate people because they’re brown, because they’re femme, or because they’re queer, or disabled, or transgender, or Muslim, or poor. They hate people who look different, think different, worship different. Eventually, the hated ones grow bitter, and they hurl hate right back in return. The hate mixes with fear, and they fight, some with fists and guns, some wielding the law.

I’m angry, and I am full of hate too. It grows every time I turn on the news, and I’m tired of it. But as angry as I am, as scared as I am, and as much as I want to shut out half of the world, and as many solid reasons as I know I have to do so, I’m not convinced it’s the right way. I’m not sure that isolating myself from the people who I don’t like, that I don’t agree with, that I don’t want to acknowledge, dignify, or give space to will make the world a better place. I’m not sure that going on hating all those people will change them.

I know what they think of me, and convincing them otherwise is close to impossible, but every so often one is converted, and it happens more and more every day. It’s my job not to just stand up to them, but to convince them, help them, educate them.

To open yourself up this way is exhausting, I know. To have to explain yourself your needs and to in turn give space in your life for such hate to be lobbed back at you hurts. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not for anyone all the time. We have to take turns. We can retreat to safe spaces as needed, but we can’t stay there forever. We have to find a way to work it out no matter how hurt and angry we are because if we don’t both halves of humanity will go on fighting and living this double existence side by side and nothing will ever get better, and no one will learn anything.

But is that so bad? Is it really your job to care what people who hate you or are ignorant of your perspective think? Is it your job to educate them or drag them kicking and screaming toward compassion and cooperation? No, of course, it isn’t. Giving them space in your life is a purely personal decision but I think it might be the best thing to do if we want to make the world better. We are all we have, and I think it’s important we all care about each other, whether we agree or not. That doesn’t mean I accept your thinking, or that I will compromise my values. I can fight for whats right and still let you know I care about you. So, it’s not your job, but it is your problem. It’s all our problem to solve.

And solving it begins with seeing each other as people.

Both sides have to begin by understanding that we are all much more alike than we are different and nothing that any human feels or believes is beyond another human’s understanding. It takes stepping into the shoes of another and imagining their whole life had been your own. You may think and believe the same that they do now, and if you did, would the way you isolate and shame them make you change your view if you were them? I doubt it.

To think we can go on making progress with the world split and going for one another throats every day is delusional. The reality is someone is going to have to find a way to take the first step and the longer we tell ourselves that to do so is to compromise your integrity the further we drift from each other and the harder it will be to reconcile, but it will have to be done one day. We are going to have to care. We are going to have to stop seeing each other as the enemy.

We are going to have to start seeing each other.

We are one country, and one world, and in this vast, cold cosmos all we have is one another. Each of us is precious, even those among us who we disagree with. Even those we find ignorant and stubborn and who put themselves at the center of the world to the exclusion of all the rest, even they are rare and precious. Like Carl Sagan said “If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” So, yeah it should matter to you who hs healthcare. It should matter to you who has food, who has a job, who has a home, and who doesn’t. It should matter to you why people feel the way they do, hurt the way they do, and fight for the things they fight for. It is your problem too!

Your fellow human beings, whether you like them or not, agree with them or not, understand them or not, they are your responsibility.  We have to learn to get along sometime, so let’s try a little harder today, and a little harder the day after that. No matter your race, your class, your nationality, immigrant status, gender, sex, or sexuality, no matter how you were raised or what you believe, start by seeing each other as people.

Start by seeing each other at all.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image is by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

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Show Me How You Move Your Mountain

“You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.”

— Anonymous

Lately, my life has become a series of things I have to overcome. I feel like no matter what I am doing, every action, big and small, ends in failure and embarrassment. A step in any direction just moves me closer to something I am afraid of, something I don’t know how to do, something that hurts.

I’m trying hard to grow, but I feel stuck, caught, blocked. There is something in my way. My past and my future loom enormous above me, and I already feel too tired to begin. I feel angry that such an obstacle has been placed in front of me in the first place. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. It’s too much!

My mountain is made of all the love I didn’t get, and the hole that love can never fill now. It’s made of my driving phobia, and my social insecurities, and my death anxiety. My mountain is made of the strength I have to find, somehow, somewhere, to get help for it all. My mountain is made of the ways I failed my partner and the ways I make her happy that I can’t see no matter how much she tells me. My mountain is made of all the things I wish I could do for everyone I love and the realization I need to come to that help is a form of control and minding your own business is a virtue. My mountain is my passion for writing and the gap between my passion and my talent.

My mountain feels impossible to move, and there seems so little time. What is most important? Where do I begin? How do I  even start? Where will I find the strength, the wisdom, the help, since I know I can never do it all on my own?

We all have a mountain I suppose, made of all our pain and potential. It is made of everything you have been through It is made of all the things that make it hard for you to live, for each of us it is different. Most of it is our childhoods, some of it is death. Part of it is all the shit we do to ourselves personally, publically, collectively, and the rest is all your own bullshit you refuse to see. You made this mountain, we all did, and now you have to move it. Well, you don’t have to. You can ignore it, sure, but what will you do instead? What is life for if not to bring that monster down, to make a wreckage of your past and pain?

So you face it. One rocky side rises before you, a beautiful mound of hard shit, sacrifice, and suffering all your own. It rises so high you can’t make out its peak from this side of the clouds. You are small before it. Its size will humble you but don’t let it intimidate you. You can get over it, rock by rock. It will be hard but a mountaineer you have become and all you see is an adventure, a challenge, and a victory. You will own yourself, or be owned. But you know that it’s better to die than to live a life that isn’t your own so you will conquer it, or you will die trying.

There is no magic advice. Nothing moves it faster, nothing makes it easier. You just have to get shoveling. It must be moved to make room, for what, I don’t know. I only know it must be brought down. There are more mountains after yours, ones of hate, and ignorance, and pain and all must be leveled, blasted to rubble and a way made through for the next person. There is always more work, more to get over, and progress always to be made, but each of us gets only one mountain to move. If you can move yours, the next person won’t have to. They will see what great things you have accomplished and attack the next with confidence and fervor. They will know that the impossible can be done.

But first, this mountain is yours, and time enough or no, wisdom, strength, and help or no, you have to move it. No one can do it for you. No one knows how to do it but you. Moving your mountain makes something significant of your life. That pile of shame and suffering is a mountain of meaning. It’s a living moving breathing thing. It is you. You simply have to move…yourself.

You have been assigned this body, this mind, this experience, to show us how a person can be moved and an experience can be made to mean something.

Thinking about it this way helps. This quote jumped out at me yesterday and a light switch was flipped, and I saw something. That is what I have forgotten. I am not the only one who has been through what I have, and none of us has experienced anything new, we’ve only been given a new way of looking at it, and overcoming it. My job is to get through it, and heal from it, and share how I’ve done it so the next one can do the same. Then they will share how they have endured and healed too, and so on.

So, go move your mountain. Show us it can be done. Show the next one to stand below such a harsh existence that rock by rock can bring the whole thing down.

***

Thank you for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

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Claim Your Freedom and Make Your Mistakes Your Own

“You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too.”

— Anaïs Nin

Bad faith is a concept in existential philosophy that describes the tendency of humans, when faced with the pressures of society to act and believe in a certain way, to give up, or more accurately, to easily and conveniently forget, that they are in fact free beings who are under no innate obligation to give their time or choices up to anyone or any institution for any reason.

We grow up being told we have to follow certain rules and walk certain paths, we are supposed to want certain things and get there by doing certain kinds of work for a certain outrageous amount of hours and years of our lives. We are supposed to date certain people and dress and certain way and live from birth to death doing all the things everyone else is doing, without question, without variation.

We naturally want to be part of communities and communities work best when everyone is on the same page. We do best together when all of us are committed to contributing and moving us all forward one small life at a time.

We are also, just as naturally, very curious, adventurous, and searching for a slice of this earth and something in our lives that we can call our own. We want to mean something in our communities, and we want our contributions to be on our own terms.

We are full of contradictions, and contradictions are uncomfortable. It helps to look to those around us and follow the conventional wisdom, at the same time when others look to us, we encourage them to do the thing we know deep down we don’t want to do.

We tell them the lie we tell ourselves. Live your life this way and this way only, because there is no other kind of life you can live.

We create blind spots in our vision in all the places our paths fork. We let chance, and worse, other people, choose our direction because choosing is hard and scary, and uncertainty never lives comfortably in the human mind. We are never taught to live by making choices. We are never taught that living with purpose, a purpose we choose rather than one we are born into is possible for us. We are not taught how to cope with regret or how to feel pride at how far we come or to feel joy in where we are. We are not taught to look at our dreams as anything more than that.

We are taught that life is set in stone by the age of 18, if not earlier. We are taught that there is only one way to success, that success is possible for everyone, and that success and fulfillment are the same things. We are taught we only have one chance and that our lack of success is down to personal failure and flaw.  We are taught never to think too hard about what we are taught but I’m telling you it was a lie and for you to perpetuate it makes you a liar too.

You have choices, and you can change your life if you want too. Of course, not all possible choices are available to us at all times, and certainly, there are no easy choices to make. Freedom carries with is certain consequences and all of which must be taken responsibility for. Still, every time you tell someone, or yourself, especially yourself, that you can’t do something, or that you had no choice at any time, you are living in bad faith.

You might be thinking that if so many options were available to us, if all our dreams could come true and we could live the way we always daydreamed we could, wouldn’t we all be doing that? Well, you would think so, but the truth is, being a human is hard, and sometimes it is easier to forget what it means to be so aware and conscious and free in favor of something a little less terrifying and painful.

As a species were caught between a rock and a hard place. We live lives full of deep emotion, potential, and accomplishment, and not only do we have to die, but all that struggle and regret means nothing when you consider the eons the universe will go on existing after you. So, we choose to make unimportant and easily accessible things the center of our lives so that that pain, that cruel cosmic joke, never has to enter our minds. It’s easier to be mindless than to know what is to come and what can never be relived.

But what a waste of what little we have don’t you think?

It hurts my heart thinking of how much of life is wasted while we do the work we think we have to do and live the lives we think we have no other choice but to live all the while daydreaming of the life we might have. I panic to think of all the unexamined years of my own life that slipped through my fingers like sand while I stupidly, stupidly, stupidly spent my time on nothing that matters anymore. I wish I had known that what hurts can sometimes be what is best. I wish someone had told me to take control of my own mind, to be aware of how I live, and to ask myself all the time why. I wish someone had told me that when you have no answer to that question, it’s time to make a change and that change can always be made.

The usefulness of being aware of such tendencies is to take responsibility for the choices you do make so that even when all else has been taken from you or kept out of your reach, you at least know that everything you did was because you chose to do it. At least you will know that no matter how small or painful your life was at the very least it was your own. What else can we hope for in a universe where thinking feeling being pop in and out of existence alone, helpless, and with no way of knowing how to live or what it’s all for?

Any regret we might feel on the day that death comes for us is a pithy price to pay for such freedom and richness of experience freedom. A wrong turn made here and there along will be of no consequence if we can take pride in all of them having been our own.

An authentic life, that is what we all should be living. I don’t mean a happy life or a life where all your desires are met. No life is free from suffering, or of heartbreak, or loss, or misunderstanding, or oppression, but if we have to hurt so much and if there have to be so many regrets and mistakes at least make them your own. At least let your life be free of lies, and hiding, and of giving your life over to people who don’t have to live it for you and won’t be the ones to lose it when it comes your time to part with it.

You can do things, you can improve things, and you can choose what kind of person you want to be. You choose your words, your beliefs, and values, the way you will look, and who you will count amongst your friends and loved ones. You choose how to spend your time, at this job or that, and you choose what leisure time means too. You choose your calling and your path and your passions. Society never says you have to do anything, it only tries to dissuade you from disrupting anyone around you and waking them up too.

Were all steered in the direction that benefits everyone else, but in that cohesion and calm, we lose the only thing we have in this world, our time on it. Even if you wanted to spend your whole life making nothing, creating nothing, learning nothing new at all, at least make sure you are the one who made the choice. Not advertising, not your mom, or your boss, or your spouse, and especially not everyone else around you just doing what has always been done and wanting you do do the same so they never have to think about all the time and freedom they let slip away too.

You have the right to be a free and thinking being, and you have the misfortune to be a being with an intermediate lifespan, don’t give up one minute of it to anyone who any wants to use it for the benefit of their bank account, or their comfort. Live your life the way you choose.

Fall in love too fast, feel too much, quit your job, make less money if it means you live your dream. Say yes. Say no! Embrace being different, living different, and thinking differently. Embrace choice and make as many as you can before someone makes them for you. Don’t be afraid. Make as many mistakes as you can on your way to getting it right, whatever that means for you!

You can’t change it all, and you can’t do any more than can be done in one lifetime, but you can at least be true to yourself. You have a right to do it, and more than that it’s the right thing to do, and it’s long past time we stop acting like it isn’t.

Go, claim your freedom and your truth, and never forget that in all of the creation you are among the most privileged to have either at all.

***

Thank you for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

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You Have to Believe It

Hello, and happy Monday friends! Yeah, I know, I know, Mondays aren’t exactly happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed. I know.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, a reset of sorts, every single week. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“What makes you think you deserve to be happy?”

Thigh High

I read this some weeks ago, and my immediate thoughts were not positive ones. What does make me think I deserve to be happy? Who told me that and why do I believe it? Maybe none of us really deserve it. What does it matter in the grand scheme of the cosmos whether or not any of us is happy, or suffering miserably until death? It doesn’t.

So, why do I think that just because I was born, and I am here, I should get something out of it?

A feature of the human condition is endless frustration between ourselves and the universe over what we feel we deserve but are not getting out of life. We’ve all heard that life is unfair. We don’t want to believe it when we are young, but we learn it as we grow older. We learn that you don’t always get what you want and that good doesn’t always win. We learn that our hard work and sacrifice will more often than not go unnoticed and that the universe doesn’t owe us a damn thing.

We come to understand this, but we draw the wrong conclusions.

We grow bitter over time and sometimes, having nowhere to direct our pain and feeling a desire for understanding and control we turn the bitterness inward and believe that we don’t deserve happiness. It must be something within us that makes the world hate us so. There must be a reason that the scales are so tipped against us. There must be a reason that other people get ahead and we are stuck where we have always been, doing what we always have, and feeling shitty as ever.

But the real truth is, sometimes it is that shitty feeling that keeps us from moving forward.

Sometimes we hold on to these toxic worldviews, worldviews that, often, other people have put into us. People who didn’t believe they deserved better or happier either. People who were frustrated with the indifference and unfairness of it all. Those people drew the wrong conclusions too. They thought that because they didn’t deserve something, that you don’t either, but they are wrong.

The sad part is we all deserve better, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get it. The good news is, just knowing that can give you a better perspective and change things. Just knowing that you have the right to reach out and pull all the good things that come your way into your life and that no one has the right to take any of it away, can make your world a very different place.

If you think all you have is all you are ever going to get, you stop looking for more. When you think that this is what you get you think of your life as a punishment you accept and even seek out pain as a punishment. When you think that you don’t deserve to have the same as everyone else you set yourself apart as less than anyone else and inflict the greatest cruelty on yourself. If you do this and expect that some sign or someone will come along, tell you differently, and magically change things, you will be disappointed, because even if they do, it won’t make any difference.

You have to be the one to say it. You have to be the one who tells yourself that you have earned every breath, every joy, every hope, and opportunity. You have to be the one to tell yourself that you deserve more and better, and you have to believe it because no one else can make it so.

No one has the authority to tell you what is for you and what isn’t. No one is judging you or weighing what you have given against what you get. There is only you up against a very harsh and hard world. You may not be able to have it all, the world may not open for you and suddenly show you the way, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can and get what you can, while you can.

This week, walk like you deserve to be here, work like you deserve more, and talk like you deserve to be heard. Love and accept love like you have earned the right to. Imagine a life where you are happy in all the ways you aren’t now and simply tell yourself that is what you deserve. You deserve more money, more consideration, and more respect. You deserve not to have to hurt so much, worry so much, stress so much. You deserve to feel good about who you are and what you look like. You deserve to be confident and to be accepted.

I’m not asking you to do anything different, I just want you to know, you are deserving of better and more. I want you to tell yourself that until you believe it, and when you hear your mind ask back, why? I want you to have an answer.

Maybe the universe doesn’t care, and maybe it doesn’t really matter either way in the long run, but I care, and you care, or you should, because you only get one chance at this, one chance! If there is no other reason why it is that. You get one chance, and no one has the right to limit you or give you less than what you’ve earned.

You, like everyone else, was born, has lived, and suffered. You were given a beautiful but limited gift and whether or not it was only down to chance doesn’t matter, because we all have the right to make the most of our miracle.

But you have to believe it to make it so.

***

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Five Minute Friday // A Purpose After the Fact

I grew up with religion. I grew up in churches with stories about fate, and destiny, and every human’s part in God’s plan, but I don’t believe in that anymore.

There is no purpose for any of us, not one we come into this world bearing anyway. It was a hard pill to swallow, but now that it has gone down and been digested, I feel better.

Humans need a purpose, though, and when I found I didn’t have one, I made one up. I found one or two that agreed with my interests and drives, my values and my hopes, and I got to work. I told myself the sweetest lie. I have a purpose.

Does a purpose after the fact count? Is finding a few things to inside a hand-made decorative bowl you impulse bought from Target the same as having a reason for existing?

I was sprung into existence on accident, and I figured while I was here I might as well make myself useful. I know this, and it doesn’t matter one bit. I don’t need fate or divine purpose. Meaning I made up, just for me, is enough to get me through this life happy and fulfilled.

I made meaning out of a life that might have been nothing at all.

That is magic.

***

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Written in response to Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt: Purpose

Featured image via Unsplash

We are Nothing, and this is No Place, Enjoy!

Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it. Where is there a place for you to be? No place.

Nothing outside you can give you any place,” he said. “You needn’t look at the sky because it’s not going to open up and show no place behind it. You needn’t to search for any hole in the ground to look through into somewhere else. You can’t go neither forwards nor backwards into your daddy’s time nor your children’s if you have them. In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got. If there was any Fall, look there, if there was any Redemption, look there, and if you expect any Judgment, look there, because they all three will have to be in your time and your body and where in your time and your body can they be?”

― Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

I am deep in existential thought this morning. There is so much that hurts about being alive that we have spent considerable evolutionary and cultural time building elaborate defenses against our own minds. We work very hard to protect ourselves from the knowledge of death, suffering, and disappointment but every so often—just before we fall asleep, or perhaps while starting at a particularly beautiful sunset, pair of eyes, or our own reflection in the mirror—we remember what we work so hard to forget. We remember that we are nothing and nowhere after all.

Please, I swear this is not meant to bring you down. I think it’s a good thing for us to remember that for most of us our existence will be good but ordinary. We will have regrets, ou probably does already. We will be sad, somewhere deep down, we all are. You will be scared, and angry, and you will find yourself reacting in the two ways all humans do, quiet acceptance or white-hot rage.

This is how we cope with the knowledge that we are stuck. We cannot fight time or space. We will have only this lifetime, this planet, and this set of circumstances. We will do what we can, sure, that is where our greatest strength lies. We will exert whatever influence we can upon the universe to have some scrap of control over who we are and what life will be for each of us.

We cling to half-truths. Each of us is unique, oh but we are each dreadfully boring ad ordinary too. We can change each change the world, yes, but never all on our own. We can be whatever we want to be, but we have no knowledge of how to be it and so spend most of our time making mistakes and learning again and again that what we thought was our path turns out not to be after all.

So what could be so motivating about that? Well, whenever I remember how short and sad my life will eventually be, on instinct I search for the good. I collect whatever happiness and accomplishment I can find in memory, and I let it fill me for the moment. I hold tight to it in the hope that when it is my time to go I will go with a smile.

Then I immediately remember that once I am dead, it won’t really matter much either way whether I was happy or sad or did what I wanted or didn’t. It may matter to my loved ones, but they will be gone one day too. The miraculous thing about this thought is that instead of sending me into a depression, it feels entirely freeing (usually).

You see, in humanity’s attempt to hold on to the “now” so that we can believe in forever we work hard, so hard, to do a whole lot of things we don’t want to do. There are so many of us who work jobs we hate and live in places we hate because we think we have to. We waste every single day doing a whole lot of things that don’t matter all that much to us, but we have tricked ourselves and each other into believing they do.

So, what does that mean? Not a whole lot to be honest. I’m not calling for a radical revolution. I am not pretending I know how to change your life, hell I don’t even know how to change my own in all the ways I want to. What I do know, what I believe in, and what matters more to me that anything, are those teeny, tiny, changes we can make. They are all we have, all we can ever have, besides lady luck.

This week, I have very little to give you in the way of advice. Facing yourself and the truth of you fragility and inevitable demise is hard and terrifying. So, maybe just really think about what matters. Deep, deep down, past all the things you were taught should matter. What will you cling to? What will make you feel like this life has been a good one? What kind of future do you want for the people who will come after you, who you will never know and will never know you?

There is no right or wrong answer. You may find you just want to make yourself happy and the people who come next ought to worry about themselves. That is entirely valid. You may want money and fame, and you may want something to pass down to your children. You may not even want children. There is nothing wrong with living your life however you want to, just remember time is short. Look around you, this, this, is all you have. You should do what you can to make the most of it! You should try to find what happiness and meaning you can here.

Enjoy your life.

Or don’t, I guess. There is no right answer.

As for me, I try every day to do something small that feels big, that feels like a step, to more of those memories and accomplishments I can cling to. I try to remember why I do it. Not because I want to be rich and famous, that life isn’t for me, but to do nothing more than say “Lisa was here!”. Another illusion I cling to, one where it matters whether I was here or not but one I cannot seem to let go of.

Somewhere deep down I do want to have a small impact on what is to come, even if I will never see it. I want to lessen the pain, in whatever way I can, of a girl, far in the future, who may have the fortune and the bad luck to be born a little like me. I want to believe that people will live lives that make them feel good, or at least a bit more accepting of not just death but of every disturbing and embarrassing aspect of being a fragile human being on a fragile planet at the mercy of dangers, we cannot even fathom.

I want to imagine a future where we understand who we are and what we want to do, together. I want that because of the very few things I believe in one is that we are all we have and we have to start acting like it.

So I work through my ugly truths trying to get at what this little insignificant life means to me. I flash my half-assed answers, my process, my fears and dreams wherever I go hoping that others will face ugly and uncomfortable truths too. I hope in doing so they can find what I have, a sad reality where we are nothing and nowhere but where we can come together and make whatever this “life” thing is something really grand and good.

***

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Embracing Uncertainty

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a fresh start, every week. Mondays are our do-overs, our reset buttons, our first days. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

For me, this Monday is a super easy one, and, hopefully, if I can focus, a productive one too. It’s the first day of my winter break from work, and I hope to spend it writing as much as I can since I blew off the whole weekend laying on the couch or visiting family. I still have to work a few days over this week and next but today I am home. I am relaxed but focused. I have coffee, and I have set up shop in the spare bedroom, far away from the TV.

I am trying.

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to grow up and grow old with another person.

I feel lucky to have lived as close to a fairy tale as most people can ever hope. It has been—and continues to be a roller coaster ride of emotion and uncertainty by as time go one the highs are less high and the lows aren’t so low. It’s a good thing to be slow and steady and secure in each other. We are like one person with two brains. We fight, we confess, we whisper sweet nothings, and sometimes we want to get away from one another. It is all very lovely and typical.

We wanted to be secure with each other, but we became too confident in the trajectory of our lives. Lately, things are beginning to feel repetitive. Lately, things have started to feel like they are over.

We wake up, we work, we come home, we watch Netflix, we go to bed. We grocery shop, we see family, and we go to the movies. We pay our bills, we have food, we have a roof, we have water and heat. We have fun, and we laugh, but we have fun and laugh in all the same places with all the same people. We love each other, and we love the life we built, but it’s beginning to feel a bit too insulated I think.

There is no more uncertainty, and we have found that instead of making us any happier, it’s actually driving us a little insane.

Last night, just before we fell asleep, we had a bit of a joint existential crisis and decided that life feels too much like life is already over like we did everything everyone is supposed to do, or that we can do, and now we are just going through the motions until the end. It was sad, and I realized that to be feeling like this before we’ve even lived half of our lives is so awful. We are not supposed to be feeling like this!

So, I proposed that we make a joint New Year’s resolution. We will resolve to start, right away, doing all the things we’ve always wanted to do. All the places we’ve wanted to visit, all the experiences we’ve wanted to have, all the things we wanted to learn, they are going on the list. Some of the things on the list will be easy, trips and classes to take, some will be big, like changing our careers big.

Life may become a little less certain for us, but just thinking about this list and where it might lead us feels so exciting. It feels like life can begin again for us, together, as it should.

Life should never feel stale, and I regret letting things go on the same day after day the way I have. I grew up in chaos, and so this calm felt good. It felt like I could finally breathe. I could stop and look around, I could get my bearing and figure what it meant to exist, to be me, and to love, and suffer, and learn. But I have done that, and now it is time to shatter everything I think I know and let my life become something new again.

This week, we should all start thinking about what your life has become and what you always meant for it to be. How do you feel about where you are and what you might have thought was good and it turns out was not what you wanted after all? Think about what you have learned over your life and what you still hope to.

Think about how much time you have left and how you might feel when the end comes, and you have continued just as you are for the rest of the time you have. How might you feel?

Make a list of the things you want to do, see, and learn. Put them in whatever order you like and make it your mission to check off whatever you can—however you can—until you can’t anymore.

Think about how good that will make you feel, when the end comes, and you had the courage to let go and give into a little uncertainty so that you could really live!

***

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Quote via Austin Kleon

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