Unsplash photo by Katie McBroom
Photo by Katie McBroom on Unsplash

If you want to learn something you go to college. If you want to learn about life and create impactful change in the lives of others- you must bathe in your own existential angst. Let me explain.

Reality is a construct. It’s all a lie. Wife, husband, Director of Sales, VP of Marketing, son, father, cousin. All of those labels? All a lie. All cultural constructs are handed to you. You are born to parents you didn’t choose. Into a socio-economic background, you didn’t choose. In a country, you didn’t choose. At a time you didn’t choose.

If you feel unsettled right now – if you don’t feel at home in the world. You are clinging to your cultural constructions. Now you can rebuild yourself from the ground up. There is only one way to do that – and that is to have faith that you can change. The only thing you need is faith in yourself. Simple, right?

First, you must break free from self tranquilized behavior to be free. While ‘tranquilized’ may sound like you’re subdued, this is incorrect. You’re tranquilizing yourself with the day to day monotony of being.

On the outside, you may seem very busy. Yet, as you flutter through life it’s passing you by. Twattling away moments of your life. The binge-watching of TV, working too many hours, obsessive news cycle consuming insanity. Your tweets, your social media post, and the like. It must all stop, or at least slow down.

We’re dust. Born on a rock hurdling through space. Yet, you still need to make choices and grasp the responsibility of those choices. You won’t always make the right choices. Chances are, you’ve already blown it. You didn’t get that dream job. You got fired. You said too much. You did too little. Your company failed. You never started that company. You didn’t do the things you told yourself you would have done by now — when you were younger. You … you… you… get the idea.

So now what? The goal is to get from guilt and regret, to love. Be concerned about your fellow human beings.

When you need help, help another. When you need compassion, be compassionate. When you need love, give it freely. When you crave connection, reach out. When you can’t go on any longer, encourage someone. When you need understanding, listen. When you’re angry, try to understand.

Then, when you’ve turned that corner, and changed your mindset. Hit the reboot button, and know that you could die today. Not at some point far off in the future. I mean today. Or tonight, or this week. Let that sink in.

You. Could. Die. Today.

Remind yourself of this inevitable reality daily.

I keep this skull in my study. I’ve placed a coin in the eye socket that reads “Memento Mori.” It may seem morbid to some. To me, it’s a reminder of the inevitability of death. I embrace the Stoic Philosophy that pushes my mind to dark places so that I will appreciate the light in my life. I see it each morning before I sit at my desk.

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On the back of the coin reads, “you could leave life right now.” I lean into it. I could leave life right now. Right now. I challenge myself. How will I treat people today? I could leave life…..right now. How long should I hug my daughters? Hug them as if, I could leave life right now, and it will be the last hug they feel from me. Should I tell my friends I love them? Yes, because I could leave life right now. How will you speak to your husband, colleagues, friends, and children today if you knew you were to leave life right now?

Stop living in your constructs and stop fleeing death. Stare it in the face, acknowledge it. Embrace it even. I can’t tell you how to find meaning in your life. You must become the seeker of your own light. Yet, your time is nearly up. Your life flame may die out tomorrow. How will you spend your gift?

Once you get there — to that knowing — only then will your life seem like an adventure filled with joy, and free of guilt and regret.