… So turning to the written word.
After years of observation, and years of avoiding it myself, I have concluded that one of the most dangerous things a person can do is be unfamiliar with himself. If one is unacquainted with one’s self, conforming to the expectations of others becomes second nature. People who do this neither know nor trust themselves. They flee from positive influences, though when positivity surrounds they–of course–conform to the atmosphere. But it is short-lived. How can it be anything but, if it isn’t in their heart? Because these people are more like reeds in the wind–instead of firm and immovable–they bend with whatever influence is strongest at the moment.
I like following nature metaphors so I am going to run with this. Let’s look at one of my favorite plants–the tree. For a tree to grow, it needs positive energy. Energy from the sun, nutrients from the soil, water. And time. These contribute to the health and vitality of such wonders as the solid oak, long portrayed as the epitome of strength. But suppose when this oak was a young sapling, when it was just beginning to take shape, someone came along and chopped it up. It happens so fast! The tree is gone! The earth weeps.
This isn’t quite the same as reed-like people, because people always have the choice to allow themselves to grow with patience in the sun, or to submit themselves to being chopped down by those who would drag them into misery.
I have seen so many people choose to be chopped down. They willingly remove themselves from those who would give them positive growth. Instead they choose to be surrounded by people drowning in their own pools of misery who encourage demons instead of destroy them.
I weep for these people. Really, I do. And I pound my fist in anger. I think about the misery they have chosen and the negative effects it will have on the people already in their lives, and those who have yet to enter. I even think of potential future children. People who choose misery by default choose misery for their children. It’s selfish, really. If you know the path to happiness, but choose to deny it you deny happiness to your future family. At least until your children realize they can also choose for themselves. But those first years of childhood are precious for development!
You know how in math a negative times a negative equals a positive? That doesn’t work in the real world. Two negatives will always, always, always breed more negatives.
A good question I ask myself is, “Why do I care so much?” After all, I didn’t make these choices. These people no longer associate with me, so why worry about it? I honestly don’t have a good answer. Maybe it’s because I care about all of God’s children. Maybe it’s because when I see people who know a better way choose the path of dreadful experiences, it is like watching a skydiver decide he doesn’t need a parachute anymore. Maybe it’s because I feel some sort of responsibility for the collective whole that is the human experience. Maybe it’s because I am a poet. I swear, people who dwell in the world of art feel the pain of the world, not just our own. Luckily, we also feel the joy of world so it has its perks.
Whatever the reason, I care. I care so much that whenever I see people bend to the will of misery, or take a dive off The Cliffs of Insanity, I struggle for a while with what exactly I should do–if anything. My mother told me I need to stop taking other people’s problems as my own. She is probably right. But at this point, I really don’t know how. I feel ridiculously driven to help people if I feel I possess the ability, even if those people would rather I disappeared.
I guess the point is to learn who you are. Trust who you are. Polonius said, “To thine own self be true.” Mufasa said, “Remember who you are.” The world is full of lines and characters reminding us to be true to ourselves. No one said it is easy, or that life will become perfect. It takes work, it takes courage. But what would you prefer? Living in a dank fog with blinders on your eyes, or meeting the horizon where every chance at happiness is available?
Before I sign off, just one more bit of advice. If you are trying to fight misery and return to happiness, just forget yourself. Put your heart into the well-being of others and one day you will wake to find your life as sunny as a field of sunflowers.