I rarely talk about my life outside of my writing. You may know what I do for a living professionally in the tech world or even some details about my wonderful family of four. Perhaps you have read one of my books and have a better understanding of my philosophy on this overloaded world we live in.
Before we can dive in, you need to know a little bit about my history and upbringing. For majority of my life up until my early 20s, I was raised to maintain my emotional stability by staying where I belonged. I come from a military family where order was expected and chaos would be ran out of the door. I was calm, well put together, and could live a content life so long as I continued breathing.
But something always felt deeply wrong to me. This inner chaos never found balance. The spontaneity that would strike at random times through my adulthood would be challenged by this order. The propensity of taking a risk was grounded before it could take flight.
I felt like a rat that has explored its territory — always feeling safe. Turn on a light or stimulate it in some way and you’ll instill a sense of fear. How will that rat ever find a sense of security again with this newfound existential anxiety?
There was something brewing inside that was more complex than I knew. I continued to challenge it and it would respond and grow. As it continued to grow, I learned how to deal with it when I was able to give up hope.
At first, I had no idea how to deal with it. The best tool I had was hope. Hope that someone would come save me. Hope that I could save myself. Hope that it would go away. But it never did. I was blinded by hope in the sense that something would be able to show me the way.
Like the myth of Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a hill only for it to fall back down due to its weight once it reaches the top, I found myself questioning whether this eternal struggle was actually punishment or a sense of duty that makes us human. As I continued to exile my hope, I would find it. Hope becomes a passion for the possible.
I’d find myself smiling at that boulder instead as I got to know myself better. My heart would feel whole with the daily ascesis towards this lifelong challenge. I would conquer it through some act of overcoming oneself. Rather than continue to choose between contemplation and action, I found another path; acceptance. I couldn’t change anything in my life until I could accept it.
Anyone who has conquered something knows that action is in itself useless. The only useful action is remaking oneself like a phoenix from its ashes. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame before you can rise anew. This action is often known as losing oneself to find oneself. To do so, it is an act of simply persisting.
You see, our thinking is learning all over again how to see. You can see the world’s lack of meaning and through the process you find meaning and depth. I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what happened to me. I cannot even explain it to myself. We require, at some time, new values. Nihilism stands at the door to find out what values our “values” really had.
There’s something primordial to this anxiety. These elemental forces outlive human existence. It is important to note that we should not be cured of this elemental nature, but to learn to live with it. For we have learned that obeying the flame can be both the easiest and hardest thing to do. There’s a potential to embrace the elements for growth. To constantly challenge yourself in as many different ways you can manage. It’s how you learn to cope in the world.
But it’s not our place to conquer the elements, but to conquer ourselves. That passion is found through struggle and rebirth. A life worth living is discovered through expression, and not through thought alone. We cannot be shown the way; we must become the way. To contend with the whole world is a comfort, but to contend with oneself is dreadful. This sense of dread is the challenge. It is elemental. We must cease being comfortable with ourselves; we should follow our conscience that shouts at us instead. The choice to be yourself. That choice is suffering which is the greatest misfortune one can have — be it a great privilege.