By: Andy Weir
You were on your way home when you died.
It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.
And that’s when you met me.
“What… what happened?” You asked.“Where am I?”
“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.
“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”
“Yup,” I said.
“I… I died?”
“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.
You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”
“More or less,” I said.
“Are you god?” You asked.
“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”
“My kids… my wife,” you said.
“What about them?”
“Will they be all right?”
“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”
You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”
“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”
“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”
“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”
“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”
You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”
“Nowhere in particular,” I said.“It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”
“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”
“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”
I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnifice
I’m sick of cynicism. The facade that obscures any depth of character.
I look askance at arrogance. The collision of self-conciousness and ego.
I’d rather fill myself with passion. An exquisite and honest love of life.
I’ll conduct each day with courage. Wearing my vulnerabilities with pride.
I love travel.
I love seeing new things.
I love experiencing whatever the world has to show me.
I love meeting old friends.
I love making new ones.
I love being happy for no reason.
I love finding beauty in every moment.
I love life.
I love love.
I love you.
Understanding and growth are social things. We may lie to others conciously, but we lie to ourselves without even realizing it. A man alone is the universe’s fool. The way to practice self-discovery is through our relationships with others.
Disillusion literally means “freeing from illusion.” We treat the word with negative connotations, but it’s one of life’s greatest gifts. We all cling to our illusions and temporary distractions because they keep us from confronting our fears and inadequacies. Disillusion yourself, and you can begin to free yourself of your mind’s attachments and discover your real feelings and motivations.
The mind is the trickiest foe of all. (well, second trickiest) Your brain is an excellent tool that can be used for good, but like any tool, it’s dangerous to lose control of. The ‘mind’ is how we refer to the uncomposed, uncontrolled, random thoughts and stray feelings that trumpet through our heads day-to-day. They’re noisy, useless, controlling, and act as another layer of distraction between us and the full experience of life. Destroy your mind, and you may begin to really think.
Life is too short to sleep through, so I’m trying really hard to wake up. I’m currently on a quest of disillusionment, and I intend to lose my mind along the way.
If you’re going through hard times, I cannot stress enough the value of minimalism.
Studies have shown that people tend to return to a baseline level of happiness regardless of circumstances. Whether you suddenly win the lottery or suddenly become parapalegic, within a year most people feel just as happy or sad as they did before.
What this means is that external events don’t determine your happiness. How you deal with them, on the other hand, does. Maintaining perspective and a sense of control over your life is the truest way to feel permenantly, consistantly happier in your day-to-day existance.
There are lots of ways to cultivate a feeling of control in your life, but the easiest is by eliminating distractions:
It’s amazing how immediately these things effect your mood. As soon as you begin minimizing the clutter in your life, you feel lighter, more relaxed, and generally happier. Regardless of circumstances, you have a greater sense of control, thus you feel more capable of handing whatever comes your way.
Perspective is the next goal. This is hard, we’re all terrible at it. It requires focus and effort and no shortage of higher-thinking ability. This isn’t urgent. Rather, it’s something to constantly strive towards. Shed your ego and try to see yourself for who you really are. Explore your thoughts and feelings objectively and realize what motivates you and why. An honest view of yourself will help keep you geared towards improving your life and happiness in the future, with the special knowledge of knowing exactly what you want and need.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call freedom.
These are some thoughts that’ve been rambling through my head for the better part of the week, so I decided to write it out. Based on personal experience, and backed by various philosophical teachings, I can tell you it works. Hopefully somebody who’s having hard times reads this and it helps them, but if not…well, at least I got it down for reference. :P