This push and pull, tension, angst, pain mixed with rage mixed with joy mixed with trepidation mixed with balls out courage, this life. It’s rough. It’s a blindfolded joyride on a roller coaster at midnight, the only clues about what’s going to happen next being the sparks of intuition that we never listen to. It’s a baseball to the face when you didn’t even know you were playing the game. It’s innumerable enigmas running rampant in our minds, existential questions that plague the moment when we are suspended in space and time, that breath between waking and slumber. It’s washing dishes in a burning house, going through the motions while you can, because it’s all we’ve ever known.
It’s an endless experiment, discovering buttons in others’ minds that we can play with, manipulate to our advantage, to make them fall in love with us or hate us or help us or destroy us. We spend so many of our seconds trying to piece together others’ intentions that we neglect our own. We talk about others’ lives, their motives, their loves, their minds, their hearts, we make assumptions about everyone and everything. But the one thing that we could fully understand, fully know, without ever risking not having the whole story, without ever having to make an assumption about it again, is ourselves.
Nietzsche says “Man is a rope, tied between beast and the superman–a rope over an abyss…What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under…” He spoke of his hopes for mankind, of how we are here to surpass the average man and become a Superman, someone who does more, feels more, loves more, is more than the average man. But we constantly ignore the one thing that could help us achieve that, we ignore ourselves.
Our days are filled with things we do for other people, for our family, for our pets, for our children, for our bosses, for our leaders, for our friends. If we do happen to pause those responsibilities we’ve inflicted on ourselves, it’s only to keep ourselves further distracted from the most important conversation we should be having. We drink to forget, we smoke to numb, we listen to music to push out the song that we sing to ourselves at night before we sleep, a song of regret and wondering and feeling so failing. We watch other people on a box that tells us who to be, we admire the strength of characters in shows, we conversate about how much a character has learned and grown, but we never dare to think that we could be that character in the show of our life.
We don’t wonder why we feel uncomfortable around men who are overbearing, we don’t think about why we said that thing when we were angry that our mother used to scream at us. We don’t question why we locked our car doors when those black men walked by, we don’t illuminate the darkness that sits within the walls of our hearts. We have mansions full of boxes, memories, stories, knowledge, understanding, but we sit in the foyer on a chair that isn’t comfortable, drinking coffee we don’t even like, and we never venture past that hardwood entrance. We never sit in the family room and contemplate how our mother’s “Don’t compliment her, she’ll get a fat head” caused us to have low self-esteem, we don’t sit on that couch and dissect why that guy that looks like your uncle made you feel unsafe and violated.
To be more, to be a galaxy of understanding and wisdom and compassion in a world full of black holes, to climb that mountain rather than look at a postcard of it, to make that choice to be a better version of yourself every day, isn’t easy. It’s not for the faint-hearted, the weak-minded, the voided drones that industrialization created. It’s not for those who are content existing in front of a curtain, operating in the space of a closet when we were meant for the whole universe. To be more is to choose to be better than the person in front of you, the person who stares back at you in the mirror. To be more is to accept that alteration of our hearts is needed, it’s facing the darkest version of yourself and burning it. It’s taking the leftover ash and creating someone worth being, someone worth loving, someone the world needs.
It’s accepting that we have it so much better than so many other people, and acknowledging that yes, we can make a difference to those less fortunate. It’s not accepting the lie that you can’t affect someone else’s life. It’s more than a lie, it’s a delusion that we have given ourselves, a trojan horse that looks like comfort, a quiet life, but inside only holds laziness and discontent and meaninglessness. If we cannot accept that we could be more and could do more for others and could affect our future and our children’s futures, how can we expect anyone else to care for us? How can we expect to be taken care of when we can’t take care of ourselves if we never took the time to care for others? How can we expect our children to be good people, to have good values, to search and explore until they find their own beliefs if we never spent the energy to find our own?
We must look above our televisions, above our silver screens, above our noise, above our distractions, to the higher being that exists within us all. The higher being having this human experience, that can mix jealousy and rage with compassion and beauty, that has access to all the wisdom we could hope to find, that cries tears of joy and tears of pain and laughs in bliss and in agony. We must look to the moon, who shines not because of her own light, but because the sun is so dear to her that she must share its face to her admirers. We must look to the sea, which swallows up the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, and covers it all in peace and contemplation. We must look to the fire, which cares not for perceived success, imagined glory, but consumes all in a testament to the fire within our hearts, which can incinerate horrendous abuse, can ignite the baggage from past loves, can destroy everything we thought we were to make way for all that we could be.
We must look inside, deeply, descending into the madness that makes us, to find the hero that was waiting there all along. May you find the courage, the strength, the fortitude, the goddamn guts to get you there. Believe in what you are capable of, believe in you. In me. In us all.