I’ve been thinking about Fight Club lately. Okay, not “lately” — always, but more so lately. The movie and book are full of great quotes that cut through the bullshit and seem to resonate with pretty much everyone. We all feel adrift in our lives at one point or another. We all feel as if we’re suffocating in a morass of mediocrity and pointlessness. But taking life advice from Tyler Durden isn’t necessarily the way to live. As much as we’d love to break free of the things that suffocate us, there’s got to be a way to do it without leaving a trail of bodies and burnt out buildings behind us.
It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.
Have you ever lost everything? I don’t recommend it. It’s pretty fucking uncomfortable. I’m not talking about material goods or status. I’m talking about the things you live for. The things that keep you here. You lose those things and suddenly, there’s really nothing worth sticking around for. I didn’t feel free. I didn’t feel like I could do anything. I felt alone and stuck in the deepest, darkest black hole in existence. Crushed into the singularity by grief.
There was nothing redeeming about it. The worst part about surviving that moment is that the black hole doesn’t dissipate; you just learn to skirt the event horizon to avoid being sucked in again. One misstep and you’re gone. I’ve escaped that hole a few times, and I don’t know if I can do it again.
But I don’t want to lose it. It’s all I have left.
This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.
Well. Yeah. But what are you going to do about it? There’s a balance to be struck between jettisoning everything you’ve accumulated in your life and staying in a place of stagnation and unhappiness. Do you pursue that which feeds you, fulfills you, makes you happy? Or do you attempt to meet the expectations of others and yourself? We can admit this life we live is not what we had expected or wanted without upending the life you have. At least I think that’s possible. I’m not entirely certain, since I am a person who views compromise as dishonesty. (It’s not.)
Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.
So yeah. Pretending to be something isn’t the same as being that thing. The cognitive dissonance that arises from living a life that is inconsistent with your core self is too much. The mind starts fraying at the edges and we become overwhelmed. Everything becomes a lie. So where does the compromise lie? We can’t start fight clubs all over the country while our alter ego lies dormant, never sleeping, shambling toward a psychotic break.
The problem with life is that our inner self changes as we accumulate experience and new knowledge. We may start on a trajectory for whatever reason and realize that this isn’t the life we’d wanted to lead. So we stick feathers up our butt in order to appear to be what is expected, or we find a way to change course, becoming something new and yet still the same. It’s brutal for some of us, easier for others. Some of us are more adept at integrating our new selves into the old, able to live a duality until it becomes a singularity.
When you feel like shit, everyone you hate wins.
Don’t let others define you. Don’t allow the weight of the expectations of others bury you in a life that isn’t yours. We’ve got one shot at this. One. There are no second chances. And yet we so often live in fear of the misperceptions of those around us, never acknowledging that it doesn’t fucking matter what people think, as long as you can live with yourself.
And that is the most important question: Can you live with yourself? If you stop sticking feathers up your butt, admit that this life is ending one minute at a time, and resolve to lose “everything,” (I still don’t recommend that), can you fucking live with yourself and the fallout? Or can you decide not to feel like shit for your decisions, find a way to integrate your various “selves,” and make the most of this brief, brutal existence meted out by a cold, uncaring universe?
Find a way to live with yourself, while still remaining true to who you know yourself to be. Life is too fucking short to do anything but live.