“Lifer” Syndrome

lifer

I’ve been told I should run for office. They say I’d be a great public servant, that my poise and eloquence would serve the legislature well. “You should run.” “When are you running?” “You’d be great!”

Well, it’s not happening. I’m not going into so-called public service again. It’s over. I’m done. You know why? Because I used to care too much.

Call it “lifer syndrome.” I owe that term to a friend of mine and former military policeman, now an anarchist who has gotten into many confrontations for protesting war. While reminiscing on the good old days in the service, he casually mentioned that he used to be so dedicated, so enthusiastic, so hardcore that everyone assumed he was a “lifer,” or someone who would be in the military for the rest of his life. It certainly came as a surprise to many people when he left and turned his life in the complete opposite direction. Not to me, though.

You see, that’s the problem with passion: it’s sincere to a fault. And that sincerity has no tolerance for a corrupt and phony way of life. An unenthusiastic person can maintain a low level of faith and support in a system based on lies, trudging along in mediocre monotony for a lifetime. For a passionate person, living a lie is absolutely not sustainable. They will believe it with all their heart, put the entirety of their physical and emotional resources behind its advancement, and then will invariably come face to face with just how wrong they were. An ember can smolder endlessly under a pile of false promises, but a bright flame burns through them all in short order.

My friend fought for freedom so hard that he came to the inescapable conclusion that it wasn’t about that at all. Similarly, I worked my butt of during my time inside the political system, and subsequently burned out, because I cared too much.

So don’t try to get me back into politics. I’m a lifer. I was too honest to stay in it. And if you cared at all, you’d get out too.

The Terrifying Face of Destiny

destiny

“We fear the thing we want the most.” – Dr. Robert Anthony

Ignorance is bliss. To wander aimlessly, not knowing where to go, is a blessing. Happy is he or she who lives a purposeless life, only worrying about making it through the week in one piece. Nothing ventured, nothing risked.

But some of us are called. Some feel the lure of a greater purpose. Some know that they were put on this planet to follow a specific course, to accomplish a certain aim. And it’s frightening.

Why? Not because we don’t want success. Not because the distant future we see isn’t bright. Not because we aren’t happy to know that success is in the stars for us, that we have but to embrace the path in order to secure victory. We fear success because we fear the long, arduous road we must conquer first. Because of the pain, loss, and difficult moments that never seem to end. Because of the price of victory.

Most of all, however, we fear destiny because we don’t think ourselves worthy of it. Because we feel unable to deserve the victory promised us. Because of that relentless voice in the back of our heads that tells us that this isn’t our destiny after all, that we can’t secure it, that we will waste our short little lives in the painful pursuit of a victory that will never come, ending our days having amounted to nothing more than a failure. That is the real fear of success.

At some point, sooner or later, we come face-to-face with our destiny. And that can be the most terrifying moment of our lives.

Photo credit: Mikel Ortega

Superficial Failure

red dress

Beware of the beauty cult.

An engaging personality is good. Same with physical attractiveness. Both can facilitate business and personal relationships. But neither is a substitute for real value.

As a society, we, globally, have overestimated the value of attractiveness. In some cases on the female side of the equation, this is a last vestige of an era when women had little to no rights or value as productive individuals, but rather were forced to rely on their physical charms to secure a stable financial future in the form of marriage, prostitution, or other profession that traded use of the female body for value. Now, even though in most of the world that model has come to an end as a dominant career path, some of its traces are seen in the modern business world. Looks and personal magnetism can still take the place of real job skills.

This is far from being limited to the female gender. People of both sexes have been taught to use their superficial aspects to avoid the real hard work of rising to the top of their field. This isn’t even a purely professional problem, either. It’s even worse on the personal level. All too often we use our personality, popularity, attractiveness, and emotional and mental manipulation skills to substitute for building relationships based on mutual benefit.

The bottom line is that a healthy society is built on hard work, achievement, ingenuity, creativity, and voluntary, mutually-benefitial exchange. The global economy benefits from each and every contribution from all engaged productive individuals. The more people focus their lives on using their looks and charm to get away with creating as little as possible, the more opportunities we miss to better the world, and the lives of all its denizens.

Beware of the beauty cult. Resist its lure. Charm should never be a substitute for actual worth.

Men From Boys, Women From Girls

Is a strong character bestowed at birth? Learned through experiences? Or acquired by choice?

To some extent we are born a certain way. And it is true that we can only develop character if we so choose. However, without having lived a certain life, it can be very difficult to develop real mental and emotional strength and maturity. Men are made from boys and women from girls through the fires of pain, the weight of struggle, and the sting of loss.

You aren’t a man until you’ve felt the repeated battery of rejection crash against your sense of self-worth.

You aren’t a woman until you’ve forced yourself through week after exhausting week, trying your best to improve your life, only to feel it worsen instead.

You aren’t a man until you’ve reach the end of your means, have no clue how you’re going to pay the rent next month, and can’t even get to sleep because of it.

You aren’t a woman until you have loved, given your everything, promised your life over to the dream of a life shared with another, only to lose it all in the cruelest way possible.

You aren’t a complete adult with character until you’ve had dreams and lost them, tried everything and nothing worked, loved and lost. You aren’t a man or woman until you’ve hated yourself with all your strength, despaired to the point of losing all hope of even being able to hope again, pushed yourself well past the point of breaking for longer than any human should be able to endure…. and emerged from the ordeal not weaker, but stronger.

Gender differences can be bridged, cultures can be understood, and languages can be learned… but the chasm that separates the owner of a life of privilege and the victorious former denizen of Hell itself cannot be traversed.