I sling my half-asleep body out of bed and shuffle to the kitchen for morning coffee. A little 5 cup pot, stained with the remains from old brews. I grab one of the mugs I gifted to mema, it was a sea foam green with "WORLD'S GREATEST GRANDMOTHER" written on it, she uses it religiously but every now and then I snag it. I proceed to fill it up. I leave a little room for my hazelnut creamer. I enjoy my coffee strong. A heaping spoonful for every cup. My grandma refuses to drink my it, or if she must, she waters it down. I rub my eyes as I drag my feet back to my room; I pick up my Marlboro 27's and head to the backyard for "my morning ritual".
The fresh air, tobacco, and caffeine seem to revitalize me. This routine of mine is so necessary that I will feel thrown-off and incomplete without doing. Lately
I've been grabbing a book and a notepad and have been staying out there for
hours, chain-smoking cigarettes and jotting down highlights of what I'm reading
that day. I really wouldn't have considered myself much of a book worm, but as
of lately, I have taken relish in it. I read mostly non-fiction. I feel like it
exercises my mind. I like bouncing around ideas in my head, constantly gaining
more and more perspective of the world around me, and how others perceive
Lately I've been reading a lot about death. That doesn't
exactly sound too lovely, but it has been an eye-opener. I'm currently reading "The Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker. I'm only about halfway through it but I would
recommend it as a must-read. People nowadays in my opinion are too sensitive,
if they could just take a step back and learn to accept that others have their own point of view as well, without becoming personally offended, they could gain a new understanding and appreciation for those who are different than them. I have absolutely no malicious intentions with my thoughts and opinions, but maybe what I've learned can help someone the way it's helped me.
Here are a few of the things that I have written down from Becker. I will recognize those that are word for word from him and I will also give you my interpretation of his concepts. Becker goes on to write, "Why does man accept to live a trivial life? Because of the danger of a full horizon of experience...", "...finds it too venturesome a thing to be himself, far easier and safer to be like others, to become an imitation, a number...", “...the one who dares not stand up for his own meanings because this means too much danger, too much exposure, embedded in a safe framework of social and cultural obligations and duties...". Becker goes on to say that“...to be a 'normal cultural man' is to be sick…".
Here is how I have processed this food for thought. The world is a scary place, and most of us try to avoid the inevitable by staying within their 'comfort zone'.
Becker is encouraging us to stand in the face of danger, for it will be far
more beneficial in the long run. Your individuality is important and vital. I
mean what's so appealing about being like everyone else. Becker writes,
"stand naked in the storm of life". I say let your walls down, take off your rose-colored glasses and come to terms with the fact that danger exists, not everything will go as planned, but that's okay. He wants us to embrace life for everything it's worth and basically says that we are just as afraid of life, as we are death. Pain and suffering are essential to growth, so to try and avoid them is only limiting your development.
Becker goes on to reiterate himself, “...the real world is simply too terrible to admit; it tells man that he is a small, trembling animal who will decay and die..."
We will never be able to truly live if we don't come to terms with the fact that
we must also die. I have a lot of regrets, and most of the time, the regret
cuts deeper than if you were to just swallow your pride or your fear, or whatever is
stopping you and go through with whatever you are cowering away from. We're all so terrified of rejection that we choose the safer option of avoiding it all together. How can we ever truly live if we are always avoiding the uncomfortable? Would we ever be able to truly appreciate the good without the bad? Balance must exist. Sometimes life sucks, but to lie to oneself about reality is doing more damage than good. Avoiding things that are painful will put you in a fantasy world for a little while, but you will be in great shock when the truth comes into fruition. Heroism, bravery, courage, however you wish to word it is the defiance of safety. Put down your umbrella and feel the rain. It is alright to get wet, for this will make you feel more alive.
Becker goes on to the topic of the importance of vulnerability.
"…one has to stick his neck out in the action without any guarantees about satisfaction or safety, one never knows how it will come out or how silly he will look...".
I know I’m not alone in the fact that I avoid asking certain questions or having
particular conversations because I have the feeling that I know exactly how it
will turn out. Once again, this is avoiding rejection and pain. Why are we so
terrified? The answer can't be yes forever. Becker states that "...he doesn't want to risk his self-image...". People can claim all day that the opinion of others doesn't matter, but to some extent I know we all care, it's in our nature to seek approval in some manner. We thrive off of the reactions of others because those are what validate our existence. Becker encourages us to "...plunge into the experience and then reflect on the meaning of it..." Notice how he uses the word plunge. To plunge means to immerse and submerge yourself into something. Dive in head first and seek the underlying meaning behind everything. No two reactions regardless of how similar they are come from the same place. A person could be angry with someone for multiple reasons. Did the other person say something that offended them? Why did it offend them? Did it hurt their ego? or does it have absolutely
nothing to do with the other person? Is something going on behind closed doors
which caused the anger to be taken out on someone innocent? We have no idea
what illicit’s people's reactions, but we must take the time to reflect on situations and use them as learning experiences to improve on our understanding of emotions and communication.
Thomas Hobbes had the idea that people are inherently bad while Jean-Jacques Rousseau had the idea that people are inherently good. I personally agree with Rousseau. I don't believe anyone is born evil, but personal experiences might cause someone a pessimistic outlook on life. While situations completely out of our control have may have a negative impact on us, we are truly the one's in control. We get to decide how to react. While external forces exist, we are truly the creators of our destiny. I believe that nothing is pre-determined, we make millions of choices every single day, and all of those choices big or small, control our path through life. Stop being so scared to live, and although it might be scary, it might be the time to accept that your death is inevitable as well. Now are you going to choose the safe path, or are you willing to take a few risks along the way? Are you prepared to truly live?