Is everyone else thinking the same, or is it just me?
Trust me when I say, I’m not the kind of person to open a story by throwing the words of other writers around willy nilly. Nor am I the kind of writer to mess my words up. The following is the success of my story.
“Think for yourself, or others will think for you without thinking of you” — Henry David Thoreau
“To find yourself, think for yourself” — Socrates
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” — Mark Twain
“All sentiments I never heard from my career advisor” — Me
The other day I was feeling a bit lost, so I caught up with my friend Sigmund. He reckons himself to be somewhat of an expert on social psychology.
Sigmund has been supporting me following my recent existential crisis. I’ve been suffering from a delusion where I question my own existence in a world with no color. Thankfully it was just a pigment of my imagination.
“So Lee, have you found your way in life yet?”
“To be honest Sigmund, I’ve always let other people tell me what to do and where to go in life. It’s held me in good stead so far.”
“But Lee, letting others guide us through life, prevents us from finding the right path.”
“Actually Sigmund, you may be right. I first met my ex-wife on a local bike trail that was known for its ups and downs and twists and turns. Bloody dangerous thing, nearly killed me! Hope I never see that crazy cycle path ever again. Anyway, tell me this Sigmund, in a world full of divisive and contentious social issues how do I know what direction to take?”
“Well, Lee, I guess it all depends on what pulls you in, what intrigues you. And then you need to consider whether what it is you are impassioned by, comes from a place that is in the best interests of your community. You can either embrace your passions or not.”
“Actually Sigmund, talking about either and or, during the recent pre-op for my frontal lobotomy, the anesthesiologist said that if I didn’t want knockout gas he could hit me in the head with a paddle. But he wouldn’t do both. It was ether, oar. And listen to this Sigmund, for some reason, I got paranoid about being stitched up after the operation. He got irate and told me, ‘so Lee, you don’t trust a doctor to stitch you up? Fine, suture self!”
Sigmund rolled his eyes and then said, “Lee, you have to determine what it is you are drawn to. If you are not drawn to anything you are unoriented.”
“Actually Sigmund, I’m drawn to watching TV all day. Only the other day, I bought one of those new TVs for people who are light on their gait. It’s called an LGTV+.”
“Lee, you’re an idiot!”
“I might be an idiot Sigmund, but I bet you’re not smart enough to figure out that I still don’t understand what you’re talking about!”
Sigmund shook his head and then said to me, “basically Lee, I’m telling you to go and find your direction in life. Lee, ask yourself ‘what goal justifies the pain and loss in my life?’ ‘What long term aim am I prepared to put my heart and soul into?’”
“It’s funny you should say that Sigmund, I once had a girlfriend who dumped me because I had no sense of direction. I did as she said and packed my bags and right.”
“Lee, you seriously need to get some self-help books!”
“Actually Sigmund, while I was in the library the other day, I asked the librarian, “where are your self-help books on unorthodox directional terms?” She said, “me telling you where they are kind of defeats the purpose don’t you think?” When she gave me permission to speak I asked her again, “where are your self-help books on unorthodox directional terms?” She said, “they’re over yonder.”
“And?” asks Sigmund.
“Eventually, she agreed to help me choose some books if I left the premises and never came back.”
“Lee, much like you, this is plain and simple! I’m telling you to live an authentic life. Stop agreeing with things that you know violate your moral conscience.”
“Like why politicians don’t listen to their conscience? They don’t like taking advice from complete strangers.”
“By Jove Lee! You finally understand! So, to live authentically stop saying and doing things that bring you down. Stop doing things that make you feel broken. Accept that some things you do will make you feel weak, but prepare for it and have the fortitude to manage your emotional responses as best you can. Consider the idea that being anything less than authentic will bring you down.”
“Like that time I was struggling with my mental health and felt absolutely depressed and miserable. I tried to turn things around. But I was just miserable and depressed.”
“Lee, it is our own moral obligations that we need to identify, fortify and capitalise on to fulfil our long-term aims. If we don’t have any aims, we remain aimless. And aimlessness is not a viable solution to the chaos that is life.”
I’m now being myself, no joke. It doesn’t matter if your journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken dream and a mountain of heartache or a broken leg and a punch in the face, either way, be authentic.
Originally published in MuddyUm, 14th January 2020.