Life is really about two things when you boil it down. Fear and love. You can choose to live a life of fear or you can choose to live a life of love. I know what you are thinking, “How can that be? Aren’t you really oversimplifying it?” No. I’m not. I’ve spent the better part of my life living in fear. I always had some silly sense of ignorant arrogance that made me think I was cooler and better than everyone else. Some sense of entitlement that someone would come along and recognize my brilliance. Well, the reality is that line of thinking is driven solely by fear, to say absolutely nothing about delusions of grandeur. Fear of trying those things that you know you WANT to do, but for whatever reason (familial or societal pressures being the two most common) you don’t do. I made a conscience decision a few years ago to express myself creatively and NOT just horde it all to myself saying “I’m fucking awesome and what I do is great and no one can tell me otherwise.” Of course no one can tell me my creativity sucks because I never threw anything out into the world to be judged. Finally, I actually overcame the fear to put it out and have it judged. Has everything been great. Hardly.
Next week I am making my stage debut and I am scared shitless, but you know what? Fuckit, if I don’t do it, someone else would and if I think I can do it better why not? I am not arrogant enough to think I can actually do it better, but I sure as fuck am gonna try. Of course I am afraid, but hell, fear is intellectual and emotional paralysis.
I’ve had my heart put through the meat grinder by more than one woman and I am afraid to fall in love again? Fuck no. What kind of coward would I be if I packed it in and said “Ya know what, I can’t risk the hurt anymore?” Well, I will tell you only a giant jackass would think that way. To be afraid of love, to be afraid of making a mistake, is pathetic and cowardly. It’s a CHOICE to embrace that fear of love and let it paralyze you from experience. Who knows how the experience ends up. It could fail miserably. Or it could end up brilliant. But to dictate your decision about love based on fear alone is shear cowardice.
Love is an odd thing. Love comes in different forms. There is familial love, there is friend love, there is respect love, there is romantic love between two people…well, you get the idea. Each one of those comes into your life and you react and respond to them differently.
I recently saw my parents along with my brother and his family. Seeing my family can cause me a fair amount of stress because I often feel like I just don’t fit there. I love them all dearly, they’re blood and you can’t escape that, but I know who I am and I often feel they don’t get it and they judge the way I have chosen to live my life. I’m single, live alone in New York City, do creative things and, I would guess from their perspective, seem rudderless at worst and a hopeless dreamer at best. Probably a fair assessment if you have never taken the time to examine my life or actually talk and listen to me. And good Christ, they have known me the longest and I have made mistakes, huge mistakes, and my parents have bailed me out so often, literally and figuratively. So based on their experiences, I can’t necessarily blame them. However, the reason that I am writing this now is solely the result of their kindness and love (so blame them). The familial love is one that you simply can not escape. It shapes your foundation and understanding of what love is and to my parents benefit, they are a great representation of forgiveness and unconditional love.
My brother has two children and I was meeting my niece for the first time. Not entirely true, I met her when she was an infant, but neither one of us recall that. I came into my parents house and she looked at me and shouted “UNCLE KEITH!” and got up and ran towards me and gave me a giant hug. Well, a giant huge for a seven year old, which is to say it’s the largest and most heartfelt and genuine hug you are ever likely to experience. To say I was taken aback is an understatement because God knows I never encountered that kind of greeting from anyone in my family before. It made me wonder if I was even in the right house. This little girl, in that one innocent act, showed me the very representation of complete fearlessness in love. The complete lack of fear that my niece had when meeting me for the first time is something I hope she never looses.
And over the time I spent with them, this little girl looked at me and saw me in a way I am not sure anyone else does. She doesn’t have the prejudice of my past experiences to judge me. To her I was simply an Uncle who she was meeting for the first time. I was this new person who she and her brother had so many questions for. And in the innocence of youth, they asked honestly. And if someone, regardless of age, has the chutzpah to ask you an honest question, you have the duty to answer them honestly. To her the love is simple, “He is my uncle and I love him”. And shouldn’t it always remain that way? As a result of meeting her, it helped me understand that my family loves me unconditionally, the way they know how.
As adults, we lose that innocence and simplicity, don’t we? We gradually, through love and loss and life’s experiences, become more selective as to who we love. We parse it out more sparingly based on our experiences. We gradually let fear creep in and give us reasons to forgo love or cast it aside. Cast it aside in the belief that something is better out there, forgo it because maybe this person just isn’t “the one”. The fears get in the way of opening yourself to something wonderful or something shitty. And it is a very thin line that divides those two things.
When you let fear dictate your life, in any capacity, it opens the door for mediocrity. Would you rather be so in love with someone you can’t live without them or would you rather be satisfied with someone? Would you rather cry yourself to sleep knowing you made a mistake by leaving or would you rather be with the love of your life, knowing they drive you fucking crazy? Well, for me, and perhaps this is reckless behavior, I will take the love where I can’t live without someone knowing they are gonna drive me bonkers. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna last forever. What the fuck is forever anyway? If I died tomorrow, would I want the love of my life holding my hand as I slipped away or would I want a revolving door of lovers paying their respect? I’ll take one love please. But forever? I dunno, in a perfect world that exists, but this world is many many things and perfect ain’t one of them.
More often than not, fear is the motivator in decisions, isn’t it? “Well, what if this person isn’t the RIGHT person for me?” What the fuck does that ultimately mean? That fear of exploring whether or not they are or just EXPECTING them to be the right person is what is driving you. If it is truly love, then you would say “OK, what is going on here, I know I love this person, but what is wrong and how can it become right for BOTH of us without compromising my beliefs.” And sadly, the fear of exploring those more complex thoughts, examining those more complex compromises is what leads people to forsake true love and make decisions that allow them to settle for something LESS than what they deserve.
Mediocrity has found a way to creep into every facet of our life. I mean, if you want to watch shitty television, listen to shitty music, go to shitty movies, that is your choice. But to deny the possibility that something may actually be better than just mediocre is to deny an entry to a wonderful experience. “Oh come on now, you know what, sometimes I am tired and I just don’t want to think and want to be numb so I am going to watch ‘The Big Bang Theory'”. And that is the joy of being in our country, we can choose to do that. But why would you want to? When did this bottom feeding bullshit become the remedy to escaping the banality of your existence? Your life doesn’t HAVE to be banal OR mediocre. That choice is yours to make.
Wouldn’t it be much better to come home and say to your partner “I had a shitty day, I wanna take a shower and just stare off into space for awhile and not talk.” or “I had a shitty day, do you just wanna play a game of backgammon and listen to music? Yes, we can listen to the new Katy Perry song as long as we can also listen to the new Eddie Vedder album. And let’s not talk either.” or “I’m tired, do you want to take a shower with me and just laugh for a little while?” No, no, we have become conditioned to embrace the shitty day, numbing ourselves with drugs and alcohol and them sitting in silence as media jams it’s giant dick of mediocrity in our face. Too many people choose to not explore the power and joy of what is actually out there in the world to experience, either alone or with another person. Look, I don’t profess to be an expert at any of this shit, or to have even had much success with it, but I can tell you that I have tried. Have you? I fear mediocrity and banality much much more than I fear love. That is my choice.
You can actively live your intellectual and emotional life or you can be passive about it and expect everything to work out the way you have it in your head. You can have your life dictated to you by your upbringing and ease that with the numbing agents of media, drugs or whatever you use to escape the reality of your existence. But the bottom line is that it is a choice and it is yours to make. To choose fear is in direct opposition to choosing love. Too many people are choosing fear. Challenge fear, choose love.