There is a pain that goes with defying your limitations; and I don’t mean just a mental or emotional un-comfortability. There is actual physical pain in breaking away from who you have been trained to be and becoming who you are. I remember many nights just writhing in bed in bodily pain because my mind and my spirit rebelled against a life that was too small, too depressing and too stupid for me to continue with.
My eyes hurt when I saw people going to work every morning. The fear and anxiousness about going to a place they hate, being late, and leaving their children while still not having enough money to live comfortably is such an ugly site. I wanted to cry for myself as much for them. I despised everything that is establishment and order and authority imposed on me from outside. The life of an ordinary person was despicable and I wanted nothing to do with it.
Every night a voice came to speak to me, it said: “What the hell are you thinking? What are you going to do with your life if you are not employed? Where have you ever seen anyone getting anywhere in life without a good job and a solid income?” It made so much sense, it sounded so true, it seemed so right; but all that wasn’t for me any longer. So I had to kill that voice and the act of killing it is like going to hell. That is how I experienced it. It’s like being burnt from the inside out. Night after night I squirmed and scorched in the darkness. All I had to do for some relief was to say to the voice, “I give up, you’re right.” But I couldn’t. I didn’t know what waited for me beyond ordinary life, I didn’t know where I was going, I only knew I couldn’t stay where I was.
I was a loafer, a slacker, a weight on the shoulders of society, I was worthless in comparison to all the hard-working folk who gave up their lives to make a living. I abandoned my fellow human beings to the security of mediocrity.
During the day the voice screamed desperately for me to start acting sensible. It painted pictures of lack and deprivation that unsettled me but never scared me enough to make me change my mind. What I became fearful of was wearing cheap shoes and poorly made clothing bought on credit. I became fearful of fast food bought on pay-day to compensate for the week of meager meals that went before. I was scared of fancy cars with huge re-payments and tiny re-sell values. Huge televisions and satellite subscriptions, cell-phone contracts, church tithes, weekends out, hair-do’s, nail jobs; it all scared me. Problems, gossip, friendships, politics, religion, education – I couldn’t bring myself to care about any longer. Not caring was painful, it felt wrong, it felt dangerous. I had to pay to free my mind from all the limitations I accepted. I paid dearly.
I’m still on a journey to find out what life really can be like when you are free to make up your own rules. Every now and then I come across yet another limitation to break free of and have to stand in the fire again. It doesn’t hurt as much now as it did then, but hurt it does. I now see life very differently. I don’t feel bound by societal norms, I don’t feel bound by expectation, I don’t feel bound by rules made for the sake of making rules, I don’t even feel bound or fearful of the law or law enforcement institutions. I feel however the weight of carrying myself and that is a much greater responsibility than complying with the rules of ordinary life. The world is filled with restrictions and boundaries but from where I stand now it seems to me that these things are completely powerless. They are more mental and emotional than actual. They are imposed through a threat of loss of approval and fear of violence or persecution. And we accept them without question, empower them without resistance and then tell each other that life would be better without those who oppress us.
The truth is that we love our chains, it’s the perfect out from having to challenge ourselves. It’s easier to profess high ideals than to live them and a restrictive society gives us every opportunity to shirk the opportunity to be who we say we are. The truth is that maybe 1 in 100,000 people will break away from the rules that we all say make our lives pointless, miserable and difficult. The truth is that we don’t even realise that breaking the chains is a real option.
Ordinary life is still ugly to me. Ordinary conversations hurt my ears, I don’t participate in them. Ordinary people depress me, I do my best to avoid them. Ordinary things leave me unmoved, I stare at them and see nothing. Ordinary problems are stupid to me, it is insignificant things people stress about through lack of knowledge and power.
I don’t do anything extraordinary with my life, except live it; which to the average person is something extraordinary. The point of my pointless life is for this pinprick of awareness, a nothing in the greater scheme of things, to face an unlimited world fearlessly and curiously with an intense desire to know and understand as much of it as my being can handle. I eat food, drink water and breathe air, but I do it with no illusion of there being a point to all of it, the doing is the reason for the doing. It’s audacious, arrogant and highly presumptuous that this tiny grain of nothingness, called myself, dares to want to make a life that flips the bird at all good definitions of a good life.
There is no great reward for following all the rules. There is no golden star for getting the most approval. There is no sense in living in misery with a hope of rest and salvation in a nebulous state that follows your death. There is a chance to live a life that makes you happy now. There is a world of beauty, splendour and abundance, peace and joy hidden in plain sight. We walk right past it every day because we’re too busy following the rules. We can never be free because we want to win; win at a game that’s set up to ensure we always lose. We can never be the one calling the shots because we don’t want to carry the responsibility that goes with it, so we have to be the one who bends the knee. We can’t be unique because we have to be on trend. We can’t be independent because the price of approval is conformity.
We can’t be, because we aren’t we.