A long time ago, when I was around 22, I was sitting on a grassy knoll at my university on a beautiful sunny day, and a good friend of mine wandered over and asked what I was thinking about. I answered “I’m thinking about dying”. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since, though I’ve wished many times I could. But now finally at this point in my life, 14 years later, I’m not afraid of thinking about it. I’ve learned many lessons since then.
One lesson I had to learn indirectly from my father: If someone doesn’t want to be happy, they never will be. My father has led a flagellant’s life, punishing himself and holding himself back for a thousand imagined flaws and weaknesses. The details of his past are not worth reviewing, but suffice to say he has spent his life running from excellence and challenge, and now spends his days terrorizing himself of his final inevitable end.
He was my life-long mortal enemy until I decided to try and forgive him as I passed my early 20’s. I then dedicated part of my life for over 10 years to trying to make him happy… I gave thoughtful gifts, offered support both physical and emotional, and I’m proud to say I even made some of his dreams come true. Unfortunately all he could allow himself to return to me, save for a few moments when he was at his most vulnerable, was his typical method of manipulation to have his wants satisfied. He held the firm belief that the only way to get what he wanted was to try and fool another into giving it, since after all, his desires couldn’t possibly have merit on their own, could they? Sadly now in his old age combined with his infirmities, I am certain he will not one day believe otherwise. He will die a pitiful death, and were I to allow myself, I would be heartbroken over this idea. However, I must look to my own life rather than throwing my efforts into a black hole.
What I have learned from this, combined with other life experiences, is that courage is a rare and complicated thing. I have also learned that death has a benefit; it allows others to let go. It is so much easier for me to release myself of past obligations and sufferings when I imagine situations are dead and gone forever, rather than allow my mind to fantasize there might still be some reality to them. This keeps my thoughts and general level of cognitive awareness and happiness free of confusion and contradiction, rather than clinging to pieces of things in the past that cannot be again. Among the cruelties man can inflict upon himself, I see the worst as when a man gives himself different answers at different times for the same questions. A human brain is a thing of habit, and if you allow contradictions to linger long, you will lose your ability to see them clearly and to rid them of your thinking in general.
I lead an enthusiastic life and am known to have confidence and a straightforward manner, but it is not born from some inner feeling of joy and pleasure at the everlasting and omnipresent pulchritude of life itself. It is because life is futile. Death is the only outcome, and I can think of no greater cruelty, ever devised by any man or other situation I can imagine, than to place me here with all my loves and joys and to tell me I shall lose them all some day. This is a thought that cripples me at night, and I say cripples because there is no option out of it. But after enduring this horror for years, when these moments now occur, I call upon my aggression and anger, toss all my cares and everything I hold to overboard and into the deeps, and start spoiling for a fight. I allow my physical responses to take over and show me the way to keep breathing, keep focusing on survival. I don’t walk out of my home and look for something to punch, mind you. It is enough that I have the knowledge of how to live, how to feel engaged and attached to my immediate world once again and to lose the terrible feeling of disaffectation that comes from terror living always nearby in your thoughts. Had I not the ability to tap into this consciously and to have taken the time to understand it, I might otherwise be a foolish thrill-seeker or a person who cuts himself to receive the same jolt of awareness.
I live now by my adrenaline. It is part of my body’s natural and total emotional system. In this day and age of emphasis on peace and passivity (and perhaps I live in too civilized an area), it is easy and even unavoidable by nature of influence to absorb the idea that life is better without conflict. I argue this is simply not true. Without an expression of battle I don’t believe the value of anything can be truly settled in the human mind. Anger and aggression are absolutely necessary states to compliment a healthy human mind. But they should be directed at something I deem possible, not something of utter futility. So in the end, what I am suggesting is the ultimate distraction from the truth of inexorable loss, which at the same time allows me to take greater ownership of the time and experiences I do have. Every moment is mine to capture, until I have no time left. That is simply the situation.
I therefore conclude that it is the survival instinct that the average modern man lacks, and I am grateful I can conjure it. Every man must have something to fight in his life other than time.