I was always in a hurry. I was always too busy; running to the train every morning so I’d get to the office on time, rushing to the sandwich place to get my lunch before wolfing it down, frantically working to get a project plan done to deadline, powering through the novel I was reading so I could move onto the next one on my list. I never really had the time to wonder where I was actually going. In a “what’s my life about” kind of way, I mean. I was too busy attending to the immediate tasks in hand, and getting stuff done because, well, it all needed doing.
In that mode, the wheels keep turning and life chugs along nicely. You’re firmly rooted in a reality. The reality of having “stuff” to do. Of having purpose, at every moment of every day. So much purpose, in fact, that you have to rush around and fight the clock to get it all done before the next thing you absolutely have to do catches up with you. It doesn’t matter that all these things that you’re doing might be keeping your eyes closed to the reality that you are, in fact, drifting. Drifting along, distractedly. It doesn’t matter that you might be heading in completely the wrong direction. You’re going Somewhere. And you don’t have time to worry about whether it’s Somewhere that you actually want to go. You have far too much “stuff” to do! There is simply no time available to stop and consider the possibility that you might have taken a wrong turn.
Over time, the niggling Voice of Idealism in your head (the one that occasionally whispers to you that you’re unhappy, that you’re losing who you are, that you are lost) starts to sound a bit silly. You dismiss it. You are an adult now. You need to earn money. You need to survive in the adult world. You need a stable income. You must earn as much money as possible. Then you can buy a house. Go on nice holidays. Buy whatever you want. Fulfil expectation. Stick to the lifestyle you know. You are an adult! Everyone has to grow up one day. This situation you’re in is pretty good. Count yourself lucky. Everyone’s unhappy really. You just have to learn to live with it. Everyone else does. This really isn’t that bad. Stop being so ungrateful. Grow up. The Voice of Reality dominates your consciousness, and you continue along the road, occasionally stopping, but never for long enough to actually see where you are.
One day, the Voice of Idealism starts to speak rather than whisper. It appears more and more frequently. During project meetings. During your commute to work. During conversations with work colleagues. Then, without warning, it starts shouting. It becomes more powerful than the Voice of Reality that has dominated for so long. It implores you to consider how you’re ACTUALLY feeling, ALL the time. You don’t want to think about that. It’s scary. It forces you to admit that you are UNHAPPY. That the benefits of the life you have drifted into are DISTRACTING you from your fundamental DISSATISFACTION. That you have not been BRAVE. That you are LOSING who you actually are. That you are going to have to make some big CHANGES if you want to reclaim your True Self. That with every SECOND that you spend in this life YOU have built, you are KILLING your True Self. Oh dear. The Voice of Reality has been defeated. And you have no choice but to finally accept the terrifying truth. You are going to have to be brave. Reclaim who you are. Learn to love yourself again. Do what’s right for you. Not for anyone else. For you. Submit to the Voice of Idealism that you’ve suppressed for a lifetime. Start being honest with yourself. Scary.
Suddenly, you’re not rushing around. You don’t have loads of stuff to do. Time doesn’t seem to give a shit about what you’re doing any more. You don’t have that feeling of having so much to do that there aren’t enough hours in the day. You actually have time. Time to think. It’s scary. Questions about what your “purpose” is. What your final destination is.
Everything you do is riddled with doubt. You begin to question your choices. Who exactly do I think I am? What am I? I am useless! I am deluded! What is the point of my life? What’s the point in writing this or writing that or applying for that role? I’m a complete waste of space. I’ve made the wrong choice. Who the fuck am I? What the fuck am I actually DOING with my life? I’m so stupid! Your thoughts can become dominated with negative self -perception; your existence can feel completely unreal. You are in free – fall. The structures that you have come to depend on have disappeared. You feel useless. On the darkest days, you wonder what it is that you offer and conclude that you offer nothing. You wonder what you actually DO. You know you WANT to do some stuff, you write, you keep doing your exercises, applying for roles, working on finding your creativity or self – expression or whatever it actually is that you’re looking for – you do all this stuff to try and improve yourself, but you’re deluded if you think you’re ever going to offer anything of value to the world through any of that stuff! Give up! You worry that people think you’re silly for chasing dreams. Quietly, they are waiting for you to admit that you were being dumb and that you have now seen the light. That you understand now: it’s good to dream, but reality is reality and we all have to live within it. And you have to be beyond lucky to be one of the Chosen Few who can live their lives according to their own truth. The odds are stacked against you, so yes, you may as well go back and live in the realms of distraction, escapism, delusion. It’s too much like hard work to make every moment of your life worth living. Why bother, when you have holidays, and booze, and Facebook to help you run away from the pain of Real Life?
Here’s the thing. Once you’ve stepped out of the realms of Real Life and start being honest with yourself, there’s no going back. You somehow reset your mode of living. Something, deep in your psyche, unlocks. Life is different. You don’t have the stability you have become accustomed to in the material sense, it’s true. But, you start to wake up in the morning and the sound of rain on the window sounds romantic! It doesn’t matter that it woke you up. You watch a movie and you experience the emotion of every character as if it were your own. As though you have just met the love of your life, or your dog has been hit by a car, or you are a hopelessly addicted down – and – out doctor. You sit down for a coffee with a friend and you can relate and connect to them like you never have before. You experience magical moments of freedom, of connection. You are stunned by your capacity to love, to hate, to desire, to feel. Your feelings become so powerful that you don’t really know what to do with them most of the time, but you are ALIVE. Life itself seems fuller than it ever has before and you want to take in as much of it as possible because there is so much amazing stuff to experience. You have the time to stop and take a look around and soak it all up. And, as this shift takes place within you, you realise that the dark places that you find yourself in sometimes, where you feel confused, and anxious, and desperate to find the answer to it all; they are hopeful too. They are the places that you have been running away from for a lifetime, and you are finally allowing yourself to accept them. To live them.
You are on your way to understanding who you really are. You are back on course. You are learning how to live again; resetting the bounds of your reality and how you process the puzzle of existence. You are learning to see the bigger picture, and how to nourish yourself with self – belief, rather than through the consumption and escapism of the material. You are creating a life that is truthful to YOU. Working hard towards what you actually want out of life. And, in those final moments, you will know, without question, that you were brave enough to look yourself in the eye and live truthfully. You will have no cause for regret. You will be able to go to sleep in peace, knowing, to the core of your being, that you did your best. That you made the most of the time that was given to you.
Thanks for reading.
An Ordinary Idealist.