Remember your dreams and fight for them.
Most of us walk around in a quasi-coma state of being. We’re numbed up and dumbed down. We’ve been programmed by society, school, law enforcement, advertising, and social opinion to act a certain way. And that way looks a lot like milktoast.
Somehow our dreams and aspirations for personal greatness got blended in with the rules of do and don’t for the common good. And then the batter was thrown into the oven to make a cake for the masses to eat. The result is a life that looks nothing like you thought it would.
Thoreau called it quiet desperation.
Fight back? But I’m a pacifist, you say. Great. A pacifist is one who believes war and violence are unjustifiable. And since that’s not at all what I’m talking about, you should be fine. Nothing I’m saying should land you in handcuffs. (Unless they’re velvet-lined and you’re into that.)
I’m talking about taking down those questions you long ago put on a shelf. About reminding yourself why you are and what you’re about. About remembering your childhood curiosities and tracking their scent to your better self.
I’m talking about finding your way out.
Now that you know how to dig deeper, you must also discover how to dig your way out. And I’m here to tell you that you can. Yes, it looks like a long way to the top. Yes, you’ve been down here so long your eyes have adjusted to the (lack of) light. Yes, your muscles have atrophied a bit. Yes, it will be worth the effort.
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses…long before I dance under those lights.
We are constantly being asked to take up someone else’s fight. Our employers, our country’s, and those of our friends and loved ones. In this interconnected world, more and more we’re asked to fight the fights of people we don’t even know. And I am not here to tell you whether any or all of those are worthwhile. But the most important fight you can choose is the one that ends with you living the life you came here to live.
In big and small ways, along the path of so-called adulthood, we’ve each let go of so much. We’ve cut loose parts of our lives that are as essential to us as air and water. The saddest part is that we’ve traded it all for the cereal prize of an official Grown-Up merit badge.
And we’re constantly being told what a smart trade that was.
To fight your own fight, the first step is to take a good look around you. Take stock of where you are, what you have, and how you spend your days. As the poet John O’Donohue reminded us, your life becomes the shape of your days. Next you have to figure out where you want to be. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who already knows, well, then you need to say it out loud. Somewhere that you can hear it.
You’ve got to invoke its presence.
After you’ve dared to speak its name, guess what, you’ve actually got to put on the gloves and get in the ring. And fighting your way back to you might take some time. There are no shortcuts. It’s taken you a while to hide you from yourself as well as you have. Becoming you again involves creating a day to day habit of being the best you that you can be. And we’re definitely not used to that.
I know, that sounds like a lot of pressure. It’s okay to admit. With rare exception, we’re not really supposed to be the best we can be. Unless that best that we’re being looks like a law-abiding, tax-paying, perfect-children raising, level-emotions having, gap-fill-volunteer doing, almost constantly-consuming, take-what-you’re-given-and-don’t-complain type barely-human.
Don’t fight forces, use them.
-R. Buckminster Fuller
Now that I’ve gone on and on about how much you need to fight the forces, inside and out, that conspire to keep your heart at bay, I’m going to throw a literary wrench into the grinding machinery of your brain. That’s right. To really master this thing I’m talking about, this being the you that you dream to be thing, you’ve got to get in touch with your inner tai chi master.
And to do that, all you really need to do is to get out of your own way. To set down all the have-to, supposed-to, ought-to, need-to mentalities you’ve been packing around and simply be who you are.
Everyday all the time.
That’s not much, I know, just everything. The trick that no one tells you, though, is that it’s much easier than it sounds. All you’ve got to do is sidestep the forces of sabotage and let their own momentum drop them to the ground. Don’t worry that you’ve never practiced tai chi. Once you set down all that other stuff you’re supposed to be instead of you, you’re going to be a hell of a lot lighter on your feet. It’s as easy as: Dream. Do. Be.
Go. Fight. Win.
Thomas Lloyd Qualls is a writer, a condition that is apparently incurable. He manages his condition, in part, by regular contributions to Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine and to the borderless virtual tribe known as Rebelle Society. He also finds it helpful to talk with other humans. Feel free to friend him, follow him, or just invite him out for a beer.
His debut novel, Waking Up at Rembrandt’s, has received local and national critical acclaim. The second edition of the novel is available in print (think of vinyl, only for books) and on multiple e-version platforms. There’s also a book of poetry, love jaywalks, available everywhere ebooks are sold. On the horizon: a collection of essays, some new paintings, and a second novel, painted oxen, due out just as soon as all the words finish lining up. In the meantime, feel free to visit his website whenever you like. There’s more stuff there. www.tlqonline.com.