To My Escapist Self

Hi there,

You know that voice currently in control of your head, the one telling you there’s something else you should be doing, the one encouraging you to give up whatever positive things are directly in front of you? The one using words like “must,” “leave,” “elsewhere,” and “unsure” in the same sentence? Of course you do. It rules your life. It clouds your judgment. It torments you in every millisecond of your jobs, your relationships, your obligations, your leisure activities. Yep, I know you’re coming to the conclusion that something needs to be done to finally rest your troubled mind and help you come closer to being a real breathing person with actual emotions, and you’re willing to go to absurdly destructive lengths to eliminate whatever this thing is inside of you. I get that you’re ultra-tapped-in on that feeling, but there’s something else I want you to focus on for the moment: the little bitty voice you keep brushing past, the one with his hand raised politely waiting to ask some simple questions about the practicality of this venture. Answer his questions, take a breath, and look around you again.

This is what you worked hard to achieve. Do you really want to give it up? Do you realize that you’ll be looking at the next location with the exact same eyes? Just keep that in mind before you work so hard to end what you worked so hard to start.

Love,

Me/You

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Applicable Advice from a Foresightful Friend

The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to my future self a few years ago:

 

Hey future Curtis. Yes, I’m talking to you again, thinking that one day you might surprise me. Although you are months or possibly years older than me, there is barely a difference between the two of us. What has changed? You still think the same. Do you feel that much older? I’m reaching out to you. Please help me find my way, as you have likely come closer than myself.

This world is an interesting one. You probably know more about it than me, yet you still think the same. I send my present state of mind to you, and I know you’re always good at deciphering it. I know you’re lost. I know you’re probably doing something stupid, or something that you tell yourself is worthy of pursuing. When will you learn? When will you overcome these stupid obstacles you have put up for yourself? But pardon me, I am younger and more inexperienced than you. Who am I to tell you what to do? Oh wait, I am you.

Please remember this feeling. This inexpressible feeling. I am better than this. I have no idea what I am doing and why I am in this ridiculous predicament, and it has helped me see the light. I don’t quite have the resources and knowledge to act on this feeling quite yet, but I know you do, even if you don’t see it.

Please open your eyes. Look around you, Curtis. What are you doing there? In the unusual case that you are where you want to be, I applaud you. If not, go make a difference with your abilities and your mind. Stop living in the past. Stop extrapolating foresight from hindsight. Explore new avenues. Please, for the love of God, make travel a primary part of your life. Get away. I don’t know if you will ever find a specific thing you love to do, but until then, “getting away” is really your “going home.” This world is a puzzle that your rational mind won’t ever be able to put together. Stop trying. Accept it for all its mystery and intrigue, and don’t ever let it hold you back. The only thing I do know about you, regardless of when you are reading this, is that you want to be as free as a bird. You have control over more than you think in this world of randomness and disorder, so go do it.

Please listen to me. This is a clarity I have not experienced in quite some time. You know what that’s like. Remember those sleepless school nights staring at the ceiling with so much hope and confidence? The feeling would usually subside by the time school started the next day, and a melancholy acceptance would take over. Then it would creep back, and it would stay for longer. Still, it never really lingered much into the day; it was more of a nighttime feeling. Curtis, for once, don’t look at that feeling, the one in which I am feeling right now, as silly and naïve and immature like I know you will. “You’re just tired, not thinking clearly, and dramatic,” is what you will say. I’m tired of that. In order to be a better person, you need to accept this feeling for what it is. Don’t be afraid to show it in the light. Let yourself go in the day, every day. Let this feeling encroach upon all of your sterile thoughts. Let it consume you. This is who you want to be, but you keep suppressing it. What good is that doing? Where is that getting you? I am not a psychologist, but I do know better than anyone else why you might have started doing that. However, you have the ability to break free and pursue something meant specifically for you.

I’m pretty sure I will feel similar to this on my death bed. A moment of stunning clarity where I see exactly what I missed out on and how much I would like to do. Only then, I won’t be able to do anything about it. Then, I will be talking to my past self, like the one right now, and I will see how much hope and promise I had yet how little I did about it. It is up to these lucid Curtises to navigate in a positive direction. Please recognize this and don’t get complacent. Please take action, and not just any action. Take this feeling and combine it with the knowledge you have acquired prior to reading this letter.

Don’t keep taking the past for granted. Make your own past by living in your own present, and decide your own future.

Make the day your night. Don’t judge others or yourself for living in the moment. Eat a good breakfast, pack plenty of clothes, and say the necessary goodbyes; the present you is not ever coming back. Your past selves are waiting for you to write back once you finally walk out of the door.

-C.R.S.

It’s Better to Feel Pleasure Than Nothing at All

I have been in such a frustrating place the last few months that I have taken for granted the good that can come from pain. I can be somewhat masochistic (non-sexual) in my pursuits: I tend to gravitate toward whatever will hurt me. Because of this mental abuse I inflict upon myself, I am able to juxtapose the brief but stunning moments of lucidity that arise as a result. I have not been able to feel pleasure for years, so I think I need to feel the poignancy of feeling that pain has to offer. It’s a common song lyric: “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all,” or something along those lines. I’m obviously not alone in this regard, yet I am starting to realize it’s not the sensation of pain I want, and it’s not just my antibody to the virus of boredom I keep catching. No, it is rising up from the depths of nothingness to a new high, breaking through to creative realms of self-fulfillment, that I am looking for. Because I know what sadness and depression and isolation feel like, I allow myself to experience new things more openly. I am able to reflect and articulate with insight and clarity regardless of how confused I might be on the whole.

I have been busy with school. One of my classes is boring and of little use, and the professor has commendable industry experience but can’t teach. The other class, however, is extremely fun, and for the first time in a long time, I enjoy doing something school-related (investment portfolio management). My recent focus on this has led to fewer sleepless nights and less rock bottoms. This state has me confused, though; I can’t seem to find even a simple job, but I am busy being a nearly full-time student. I am closer to graduating, closer to being more marketable, and I am starting to see a possible career path from classes like this. Having an income and a daily job is more of a reality in my mind. My apprehension has lessened. Is that a good thing? It’s almost annoying. If I am going to have some anxiety, I want to experience it full force instead of feeling its slight tickle in the nerves of my mind.

I am anxious because I am not anxious enough. It is good I am focusing on something productive, but I presuppose it is limiting my ability to make mental progress. I’m not in an extremely low place anymore; now I’m just slightly below the threshold of normalcy. Without a powerful opposing force, how is my inner fight for self-actualization going to play out? I’m not used to this. I’m not used to dealing with less adversity.

Curtis, are you complaining about not having enough problems? Yes, I am.

Maybe I am spoiled because I have been so frustrated, so bored, and so hurt that it is easy to go headfirst into any and every positive thing I can. Maybe I am lazy and know that it is easier to do things I don’t want to be doing (and get hurt) than to actually find what I want to be doing. And I know with that hurt comes change, so it is a shock therapy that will somehow turn me around while also providing an excuse if things don’t change.

During periods of deep despair, my senses are strengthened, my awareness is heightened, and my hope is spirited. But now, I am in limbo instead of in a good or bad place. I am closer to becoming a bourgeois denizen of society, yet I don’t feel ready to accept settling on mediocrity as a solution. I don’t know if I am ready to ignore some of my perceptions and step into the real world while fooling myself with the predominant notions of prosperity and success. The basic tenets, beliefs, and norms the common person accepts are hard for me to justify quite yet. Throughout this entire process, I have had the idea in my head that this reality is underwhelming. I can’t help but believe there is more to people, to life, to the universe, than this. No matter how many existential books I read or philosophical ideas I contemplate, I still feel like there is a definite point to this thing I find myself in.

Suspended in the air around us like a faint ocean mist are hope, love, courage, goodness, faith, dreams, wisdom, and progress. No one is immune from the occasional extraordinary encounter with these superhuman aspects of humanity. Life isn’t always fooling oneself – it does have moments that make the daily grind well worth it. I sometimes think, if I already know how the road ends, why would I want to take the same path as everyone else? The key for me is to understand that I must follow the same road map as every other person in the history of the world. With this in mind, there are endless combinations of side streets I can take. There are many people in this world who have taken / are taking creative routes and turns. I might be a unique individual, but the problems I am facing are not that unusual. I need to finally map this thing out. There is no reason to be underwhelmed with so many positive directions to choose from and so many astounding moments to stumble upon.

Part of me believes it is necessary to have moments of clarity and brilliance in order to triumph over the insipid existence I am destined for. Although these moments are enjoyable and productive, they don’t last because I choose to get hurt shortly thereafter. If only I could see that my life could be filled with more radiance and illumination all the time, while doing something with my actual life instead of just in theory, I would quit the foolishness. I need to embrace the path I am on right now and not presume every single thing is contradictory to what I should be doing. I need to stop trying to feel pain just because it is easy; I have not really put the work in that is required to feel happy. The same old nonsensical routine is wearing off, so I hope to finally move in a different direction. It is compulsory to surround myself with people, activities, and ideas that will lead to personal growth. If only I can focus on the satisfaction that can come from fighting for the good rather than fighting against the bad, and stop assuming the world I will be stepping into is not for me, I will be prepared for the next quarter of my life.