It’s been a little while since I’ve added anything to this blog, and I apologize for that. Truth is, I haven’t done any actual writing for a few months now, and I’ll get to the why in a moment. I’ve been noticing lately that, as the world continues to change at such a rapid pace, so does everybody in it. And that’s not a bad thing, as much as it’s something that many people can’t do. Change is hard, and changing just enough to keep your identity and exist and function with today’s social and political pressures is no simple task. Adapt or die. We live in a world that will eat you alive the moment you decide to go against what’s normal. And the tragic part is that our concept of “normal” isn’t exactly well defined. What is normal? Normal, much like the human condition is a state that is always in flux. Once it was bound to ideas of logic, and now it’s bound to our emotions, and just like anything tied to our emotions, things can become highly combustible.
For anybody with an open mind and a free spirit, this condition isn’t really an issue. For other people, however, it can create unhealthy, internal conflict that is bound to eventually show its face in one form or another. That conflict can come from any number of things from a simple need to rebel to a deeper, spiritual or personal crisis. Whatever the case is, there are things at war within our hearts and minds, and when held inside for too long, they can manifest themselves in ways that we can’t control or predict. It’s like the great Albus Dumbledore wisely says in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, “Dark times lie ahead of us, and there will be a time when you will have to choose between what is easy and what is right.” As inspiring as Dumbledore’s quote is, it fails to address an issue that has become more common the bigger that gap between the two grows. What happens when both directions feel right?
It’s a difficult task to exist in the world and not live according to the world. Our minds have become like sponges, absorbing every new social movement, political idea, hashtag campaign and any other illogical and pointless ideology that spurs us onward towards a bright and beautiful apocalypse of acceptance, hurt feelings and isolation. And I realize that not all of these concepts are bad, but they can certainly lead to bad things. If you’re old enough to read this, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you had a childhood, and sometime during that childhood, you had experienced a conflict with another human being. When it was time to get a third party involved (a teacher, parent, or sibling), that conflict was probably warped into something that wasn’t true or didn’t happen because one or both parties were out to save their own skin and/or appease that primal urge to be superior or just survive. In either case, statistically, that third party is going to believe whoever had a story or situation that aligned more with their own beliefs or opinions of the person telling it. This is the evolution of human nature. The idea of survival of the fittest has now become survival of the most liked. Does this sound familiar?
Point being, it seems like, these days, right and wrong have really become more a matter of perspective and opinion rather than two constants at separate sides of an eternal and crumbling spectrum. And they no longer primarily consist of physical or verbal acts. They now appear to also be made up of things you think and feel, and this holds true no matter where you stand in politics, religion, or personal beliefs. We’re all hungry consumers, who exist only to devour every aspect of the next best thing, and it doesn’t matter who we have to ruin to get it.
Conservative, liberal, christian, atheist, vegan, it feels like everybody who wears one of these labels exists in a different reality with other people who also wear the label. However, these realities are acutely and painfully aware of each other and, though the people within might not share all things in common, they’re united under a desire for dominance and will only tolerate opposing views for as long as it takes to bring them into the fold, discredit them, or devour them completely. Modern existence has become an exhausting struggle for superiority and elevation of self. When you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, they no longer say things like policemen, doctors, or firefighters. They all want to be social media stars, actors, models, YouTubers, or professional streamers. In fact, there was an article put out on Polygon a few weeks ago that detailed the rise of parents hiring Fortnite coaches for their children. How did this happen? Who is to blame? Some feel like this need for attention starts in the home, and others think that the seeds of self-importance are planted through suggestive behaviors we see in the media and society constantly reminding us that we are not enough. It’s no wonder mental health issues have been on the rise, and they’re not just isolated instances of depression, anxiety, and cases of suicide. It’s everywhere and in all ages. Despite the thrill of it all, this type of thinking has consequences, and even when those consequences aren’t deserved or experienced by a victim of circumstances, they can destroy us.
This is usually the part where I use my limited blogging skills to provide you with something inspiring or something to give you hope, but I’m going to be bleakly honest and say that I’m all out of hope to give, and I don’t want to be a stereotypical blog writer by telling you things just to make you feel good. Other millennials with a blog would probably start spewing motivational quotes or writing out bible verses, but I sometimes feel like the most inspiring and motivational words are the ones that are honest, the ones that don’t have any answers, but offer hope in the form of a reminder that you’re not alone in your struggles. Above I had mentioned that I haven’t done any writing for a few months. Here’s why I haven’t. I’m tired, and I don’t mean that in a physical sense. I’m worn out. Lately, I’ve been feeling an exhaustion unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I wake up some days feeling like I don’t have what it requires to be human. I have an incredibly difficult time existing in this world of hyper-sensitive and over emotional people, and I have very few people in my life who aren’t like that. Socializing has become an act of carefully treading across a glass floor in hopes that I can make it from one side of the room to the next, without falling through into the welcoming arms of loneliness. My family exists in a galaxy of their own, and some of their issues can be so massive and self-absorbing that more often than not, I feel like there’s no room for my planet in their orbit. And many of the people I’ve let into my life, into my heart, have left me with wounds I have no idea how to go about healing. This doesn’t mean that I want life to end or anything drastic like that. I, like many other people, just want to figure it out. One day I will die, and this will all mean nothing. In the meantime, however, I will passionately defend the idea that I have just as much right to exist here as everybody else.
As for writing, this is an issue that relates, but it also breaks off into something much bigger. It used to be a way for me to express myself. It was therapeutic, and I loved doing it, but lately, I’ve been feeling my creativity diminish – and that terrifies me. There are so many people forcing their views and opinions on me, telling me what I should or shouldn’t write, all according to their own shallow perceptions of the world. They fear honesty, and ironically, there’s a lot of honesty in modern fiction. It’s become even worse ever since my world began merging with church circles, because that pressure to censor ideas and dialogue is increased due to archaic thinking and communities wrapped up in trending and post-modern ideologies. Will this embarrass or shame the church? Will this contradict a wide held belief? These are questions I was always asked when somebody found out I was working on something. I’m not a very churchy christian, and that’s another blog entry for another time. Don’t get me wrong, I am firm in my beliefs and ideas about God, whom I absolutely believe in. The only problem is that those beliefs don’t always (if ever) match up with the beliefs of others, and that has created so much conflict in my life that the trail of destruction it has left behind me is still in motion to this day. So, the real question here is: How do you exist in a world where everybody is so hostile and still be the best version of yourself? I wish I had the answer to that question, but I don’t. And i’ll admit that trying to force myself to exist in a set of parameters that my heart and mind are ready to break free of, has had some negative effects.
At the recommendation of a friend of mine, I picked up the book Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand, and in it, he goes through his struggles with addiction and puts a less convicting and easier spin on the 12 Step Program. You would be amazed at some of the things one can become addicted to, but he outlines some of the biggest issues as: drugs, sex, relationships, food, work, smoking, alcohol, technology, pornography, hoarding, gambling, etc. but he also goes into some detail about different kinds of addictions that don’t necessarily manifest themselves in the form of physical acts or acquisitions. These addictions come in the form of behavior, and sometimes it takes years before you become aware of them. I don’t have any sinister addictions, at least that I know of, and while I do have my fair share of skeletons in my closet (who doesn’t?), I don’t have anything in my life that I can’t live without or feel an impulse to indulge in. Instead, what I’ve learned from this book is that I have another issue: I have an overwhelming need to be distracted and not reflect on what’s going on in my life. The moment I start breaking the wall down in front of a deep thought, my brain looks for escape in whatever form it might come. Again, this escape doesn’t come in the form of anything sinister, but it has had some repercussions. As somebody who has their fair share of mental health issues (that I’m trying to work through) the reason and logic behind this process is clear. However, lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m floating above my life and everything is happening on auto pilot. This is what I want to stop. I don’t think it’s something that requires a 12 Step Program, but I feel like I can benefit from a new way of thinking, which I’m hopeful I can find in this book.
Where am I going with this? What an excellent question. In the opening of his book, Russell Brand says, “Here in our glistening citadel of limitless reflecting screens we live on the outside. Today we may awaken and instantly and unthinkingly reach for the phone, its glow reaching our eyes before the light of dawn, its bulletins dart into our minds before even a moment of acknowledgement of this unbending and unending fact: you are going to die.” There is something incredibly profound in that statement. There are so many social media “celebrities” filling people’s newsfeeds with motivational quotes about living in the moment and chasing your dreams. Yet, all we do (those celebrities included) is attack the beliefs of others, like invading their lives and preaching unstudied, shallow ideologies at them is going to make you feel important. We isolate our friends and loved ones with opinions on politics and religion. The measure of an individual is now weighed upon the expectations of a society that tells you that you will never be enough. We might not be looking for conflict, but subconsciously, we crave it. And in the process, we forget that we were all created as individuals, which means that everybody is different, and though you might have found identity in a lifestyle or belief, it doesn’t create a mandate that says other people have to agree with the life you live or the beliefs you hold. One of the greatest human experiences is the realization that there are bigger things at play in the cosmos than yourself, and finding identity in minuscule concepts can easily detour your encounter with that greater Power or the profound realization that might lead to it. And if you fall into the category of somebody who likes to force your beliefs on other people, you’re not a bad person, but try to think about how that’s affecting other people who might not want to force themselves into that mold but still value you as a person.
I’ve recently developed a theory that every human being carries around with them at all times, a box of monsters. Where do these monsters come from? How are they born? The simple answer would be that they’re created as a way to cope with the guilt and shame that people demand you feel for not living your life according to their whims or the will of the world. The complex answer can vary depending on individual circumstances. In either case, as mentioned above, change is hard, especially when that change challenges your identity or moral fortitude. What form do these monsters take? They can manifest themselves in addictions, distractions, shame, guilt, un-returned love, whatever it is, it’s become so much of who you are that you’re terrified of losing it. I have them, you have them (don’t lie), everybody has them. And sometimes the only way we can get from one day to the next is by letting them out for a while each day and then putting them back at night. Nobody is perfect. More importantly, I think we have a mantle of responsibility to treat our fellow human beings with love and compassion, no matter how they live or what they believe. One should think heavily before enforcing a belief on anybody, but if the questions come, and they’re open to dialogue, that’s a connection that shouldn’t be wasted, and at the same time, if they’re not receptive to what you’re saying, don’t hate them. This is what the human experience should be about. And we should do these things in the hope that one day we won’t need boxes to store our monsters in, because those monsters will have been replaced with something good, something worth remembering.