There’s been a lot of talk lately about suicide and depression. I’ve even heard people struggling to understand why someone would ever even consider committing suicide.
Without being an expert on depression, or on why people make the ultimate choice to end their life, I think it is valuable to consider the ways in which we may already be living, that rob us of the fullness of life.
I look back on my 20 somethings, and marvel at how flippant I was, at times, with my existance.
So many assumptions. Breathing was an afterthought. It’s just what I did.
But living…living is far from a trivial subject. To be alive is both supremely mysterious, and at times, utterly dreadful.
I heard both realities in the cry of my newborn niece and nephew. I also heard it in the cries of grief that echoed off the mausoleum walls at a recent funeral I attended.
The air hangs heavy when you stand at the entrances and exits of life. Maybe a bit more thickly at the edge of living, obstructing your vision as you try to peer into the inevitable tomb of unknowns that await.
We are sandwiched in on both sides, by the mystery of our entrance into this world behind us, and a hopefully distant, yet inevitable end. And in-between, the sands course through the hour-glass whether we like it or not, and no plastic surgery can slow it down.
So it is ironic at times, that there are still these things that I do, that we do, that do not fully respect the infinitely amazing gift of the moments we have in-between these two realities.
A wide spectrum of living occurs among breathing men…
I say all of this acknowledging the moments in life, where suffering paralyzes our fight to go on. Where moments of escape become a logical reprieve from the underbelly of existence. You will never find me pulling a drink out of the hands of a mourner. However, if these coping mechanisms become our entire life, then it is our suffering that then defines us.
1. Don’t Worry About What You’re Eating.
It’s simply amazing how much faith we exercise every time we eat. Not knowing what you’re eating is a risky investment that may return its dividends in the form of an early doctor visit. I’m no shining example of perfect health, BUT I’m ever awakening.
2. Become Apathetic.
Not caring about your life, or others, leaves you vulnerable. I’m often remind of a statement from Dr. Cornel West: “Indifference is the very trait that makes the very angels weep.”
When not caring, meets giving up on yourself and others, empathy dies, and the reasons for living begin to disappear. And that is something that can have life and death consequences for us all. Dr. West would be quick to point out that a healthy democracy thrives on a watchful citizenry, connected to a system of checks and balances.
3. Watch More Dumb Stuff On TV.
I’ve probably lived weeks of my life in-front of the tube. Probably months. But then I woke up. “Dumb” may be a pretty relative word to use, but I think you might know it when you see it. When your gut tells you you’ve just wasted 2-3 hours of your life, that you wished you could get back…well…listen.
According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
4. Keep A Dead End Job.
Working a job that isn’t connected to your true self is a sure recipe for a slow soul sucking death. Or at least you will feel like you are. Holla if you hear me! I’ve been there, and am still on the journey to life out what I think I am supposed to be doing while alive.
Yes, we can rationalize our misery by pointing to a dismal economy. But tough times demand greater creativity. If you’re unsatisfied at work. Identify your obsession, and start thinking about ways to move closer to work that connects to your core foundation. Your mental, spiritual, and emotional health will thank you.
5. Chase Success, While Ignoring Greatness.
Building your life’s mantra around chasing success, while ignoring greatness, is something to reconsider. Even the “American Dream” needs your re-evaluation. Check out: The Problems of Modern Definitions of Success
6. Hold On To Unexamined Inherited Religious Beliefs.
We’ll always be someone’s little boy or girl, but even our parents pray that we grow up. And being mature, suggest a degree of independence in who and what we’re about. When it pertains to core beliefs about human existence, the worst thing one can do, is to shut of our brains, and simply maintain your traditional religious practices only because that’s all you’ve ever known. Have you really thought it through? Or is your spiritual umbilical chord still tied to the beliefs of others? Dig into, and live the best of what was passed down to you. But learn to give up the rest for what you discover for yourself.
“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue, but have taken them at second hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” -Mark Twain
7. Never Learn To Think For Yourself.
“When you place a high value on truth, you have to think for yourself.” – Cornel West
8. Dumb Down Your Dreams.
Dumbing down our dreams is so easy to do. It seems to begin with small compromises that are prompted by societies belief that one ought to be realistic. If we are not careful, we will reduce our calling to the whims of circumstance. And maybe at the end of the day we do this because we are subtly uncomfortable with offending those we care about. Beware of the forces of well meaning people.
9. Live In The Orgasm.
Orgasms are good. Arguably divine. However, living a life that has descended into simply chasing the next climax, is a life that destroys the palette for truth. Trading in our destiny for moments of orgasmic highs will be looked at later in life with regret. That’s the thing about feeling high…you eventually drift back to earth. And then we realize the limits of lust, and our innate need for something deeper. Love.
10. Seek Addictive Behavior.
I don’t think anyone plans to become addicted to anything. What begins as a means of escape, sometimes turns into slavery, and total domination. Tread cautiously.
11. Waste More Time.
One of my brother’s favorite quotes is, “People are either stretching your vision or shrinking your dream, there is no in-between.” What at first appears as a harsh statement, on closer inspection, reveals how committed we are to living the best life we can. It also shines a light on the things, or people, that so easily throw us off course.
How can we respect our life enough to avoid the pointless conversations that leave us feeling drained, and full of negativity? Or love ourselves enough to only focus on the things that connect with who we feel we are, and where we know we would like to go? Sometimes the hardest choices we have to make concern the friends and family in our life. Some people you have to love from a distance.
12. Outsource Your Education.
The Hebrew scriptures say, “my people perish from a lack of knowledge.” And in so many cases, what we do not know can, and does hurt us. The journey to a greater understanding of the truth of our human existence cannot be outsourced entirely to the academia, or media. We gotta turn off the tv every now and again, and do a lil exploration of our own.
13. Major In Minors.
Many of our illnesses can be traced to stress. But much of the stressors in modern societies, are endured willingly by lives of fast paced, overcomplicated lifestyles. Our time, spaces, and minds are cluttered, and this chokes out much needed moments of reflection. Maybe our hectic schedules, and chronic busyness are just the drug that keeps us from dealing with aspects of our existance. Of squarely confronting who we are, and some of the deeper aspects to living a truer life.
Choosing to value simplicity, is a choice that ushers in our greater potential for keeping the main thing, the main thing.
14. Act Like You Will Not Die.
“America is a death-dodging, death-ducking, death-denying civilization.” – Dr. Cornel West(Hope On A Tight Rope)
We live in plastic bubbles of denial, that also deny us the confrontation with our mortality that motivates a much needed sense of urgency in life. If you think you have all the time in the world, you tend to take life for granted. We should be spanked for that sort of disrespect, don’t you think?
I am always reminded to push for a fuller life, when I ask myself this question: