Why are we scared to talk about our demons? At what point do we learn that certain topics are off limits? How old are we when we are socialized that certain ways of thinking and acting are more preferable than others? When we are young, the natural tendency is to run free, to gallop with reckless abandon.
Whatever we think of, we can create. Our minds are our playgrounds, and the bars of the jungle gym extend out of our thoughts and create the structure for the games of our youth. However, at some point, we change. We learn to know better. We are taught that there are ways to act if one is to fit in and get through life without too many problems. This then becomes a problem in and of itself. Those who act like everyone else set out to live lives like everyone else.
What if this is not what is wanted? What if a person has other aspirations—the naive aspirations of youth, of free spirits and reckless abandon? The freedom born from exploration and perpetual wonderment doesn’t have to end in childhood. It can keep going. It must keep going, or the world risks being filled with automatons, with women and men whose hearts are encased with steel and wires.
Sure, we may now know more efficient ways of living, but are we really living? Or are we sliding into new default settings with each passing year?
There is something to be said for struggling. There is something to be gained from wrestling with questions that have no easy answers. It’s what humans are meant to do. It’s precisely because we are humans—not automatons—that we should embrace the mess that is our lives. The mess is where meaning is made. If you stick with the presets, you’ll never learn what you want out of life.
I’ve discovered that knowing what you don’t want out of life is just as important, if not more important, than what you do want. How can you alight upon what you do want? By suffering through the misery of all the things that don’t make your soul sing. If you left this planet tomorrow, would you be happy with how your life turned out? Would you have explored everything you knew in your heart to be true?
The mind spins yarns. It will, if you let it, tell you that all of those wonderful fables can wait, that there are more important things to be doing right now. That no one has time for mere fantasy. That’s the moment when your life ceases to be fantastic—when you give up on the wonderment in which your childhood was brewing.
How long can you afford to not pursue what you know you are capable of doing and achieving? How many dreams will sift through your fingers? Tomorrow is not guaranteed. If the thought of death scares you, it’s because you haven’t gotten to the living part yet. What makes you think you’re special? What makes you believe that you will always have ample time to do everything you’ve ever wanted to do? Solipsism is a mousetrap. It’s enticing until it’s too late.
Which brings me back, in a more than circuitous way to my question: why are we scared to talk about our demons? I think we’re scared to talk about them because we’re scared that, by doing so, we’ll conjure them up. We’ll tempt fate and alter the trajectory of our lives. But is it possible that you already alter the trajectory of your life through inaction? The world is out there, and the unknown is terrifying. But it is the unknown that will teach you about who you are.
When you take that risk, when the unknown becomes known, you will realize that the demons were powerful not because of their existence—but because of the insistence, you had that they were never actually there.
A version of this post was previously published on Nerve10.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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