“Time makes ancient good uncouth.” –James Russell Lowell
Evolution begins at home. If you overcome yourself again and again, you might earn the right to overcome the rest of us. You might even earn the right to become a catalyst of the first order, a particular “flavor” of human being that has the wherewithal to hone their ability to inject the infinite into the finite. You might become Christ-like or Buddha-esc, or even Gandhi self-similar or MLK-comparable. You might even be able to put the thorough into Thoreau. Indeed, the single best way to change the world for the better, to really send out ripples of progressive, healthy evolution into a distilled sea of unsustainable entropy, is to, after standing on the shoulders of giants, live by exemplary example.
Here are four ways to whip yourself into shape, so that you can do precisely that:
1.) Kick Your Own Ass
“The people I trust the most are those who are always tenderly wrestling and negotiating with their own shadows, making preemptive strikes on their personal share of the world’s evil, fighting the good fight to keep from spewing their darkness on those around them. I aspire to be like that, which is why I regularly kick my own ass.” –Rob Brezsny
Forget about revolution. You call this evolution? No, it needs to hurt first. It needs to be uncomfortable first. It needs to make you cry, laugh, hate, and love, all in one breath. Now is the time for action. And I don’t mean “going green.” I mean getting uncomfortable. I mean getting in touch with your wildness. I mean not just knowing but understanding, deep down, that your lifestyle is overindulgent; that your lifestyle is obese, ugly, and unhealthy. And then doing something about it. Go crazy. Get wild. You probably need to lose your mind before you come to your senses anyway. Like Isaac Asimov said, “Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.”
Challenge yourself. Dig down deep and question yourself. Insult yourself if you have to. Stir unrest. Kick all of your preconditioning out of its culturally contained box. Like Tony Robbins says, “Passion is the genesis of genius.” Free your inner genius by passionately pressurizing your inner demons. Demons are to coal as genius is to diamonds. With enough pressure, with enough passionate alchemy, you can transform demons into diamonds.
Kicking your own ass is the Art of Self-interrogation. The price of admission is a commitment to infinite improvisation and eternal dying. You’ll have to ask yourself soul-shocking questions and kick your inner-layman’s ass again and again in order not to become complacent. You’ll have to dig down deep into that inner irreverence, imagination, and sense of humor. Just remember to enjoy the ride. Free your inner rebel, so that your inner sloth doesn’t devour the world and then carelessly shit it out.
2.) Wash Your Own Brain
“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.” –Carl Rogers
World War III is a war of abstraction. It’s a war on (and in) your mind and your perception of reality. There’s a chess match going on in your head and the powers that be are winning it. Like Diane Di Prima said, “The only war that matters is the war against imagination. All other wars are subsumed by it.” Those in power are clinging to their power for dear life. They want you to believe that they deserve their power. They will do anything to maintain it, including, but not limited to, conditioning and brainwashing you with political propaganda and divisive claptrap in order to oppress you into victimized submission to an unhealthy system of human governance. It’s up to you to wash your own brain. It’s up to you to unwash the brainwash. And you do this by questioning everything to the nth degree. The good news is, as Thich Nhat Hanh succinctly put it, “Thanks to impermanence everything is possible.” The bad news is, most things are improbable, especially without a lot of hard work.
Test your perception of reality. Challenge your own worldview. Learn how everything is connected to everything else. Learn moderation. Then learn about progressive, healthy sustainability. And then, congratulations, there is a gargantuan iceberg of further knowledge hidden beneath the surface that no human being has ever uncovered in the history of humanity. Seek to uncover it anyway. Like Clarissa Pinkola-Estes advised, “Be homesick for wild knowing.” Reconnect with the natural world. Relearn Derrick Jensen’s “language older than words.” Then let it sink in how we have gone too far as a species, how too much of a good thing is overkill. Wake up and smell the oil spill! Like William Irwin Thompson said, “An overdose of an antidote becomes a poison in itself.” Unwash the brainwash, rinse with reason, dip into Mother Nature, dry with heavy questioning, and then repeat. It’s so easy it’s laughable. Then again, it’s so laughable that it’s a cosmic joke.
3.) Heal Your Own Pain
“He who fears to suffer, suffers from fear.” –French Proverb
Don’t fear to suffer. Face your fear instead. Embrace it. Then transform it into courage. This will be uncomfortable, but self-overcoming is anything but comfortable. When you gain the courage to kick your own ass and wash your own brain, then you gain the powerful ability to transform the bliss of ignorance into the pain of knowledge. It’s almost like your very own Morpheus pops in and gives you the existential option of choosing between the red pill of truth and the blue pill of deception. This is no time to vacillate. Proactive self-reinvention is in order. Decidophobiacs need not apply. Pain is inevitable, but there’s no reason Pain itself cannot be transformed into information. It’s what we do with that information that matters.
Okay, so knowledge is pain. Bummer. But so what? Let’s learn from that pain. What does it have to teach us? And what steps do we need to take in order to heal ourselves? One of the first things to arise after swallowing the red pill of truth is the heavy burden of having been deceived. Cognitive dissonance is a formidable foe. One that utterly destroys the majority of people. But this is something that we alone must overcome. Indeed, a huge part of self-overcoming is gaining the ability to navigate through the uncomfortable alchemical process that occurs between an outdated worldview and an updated one. Going from a preconditioned state to a reconditioned state is no picnic, but the alternative is worse: unceasing deception.
Healing your own pain is as simple, and as difficult, as practicing self-compassion and self-forgiveness. Be compassionate with your preconditioned plight. It wasn’t your fault. You were merely a victim in an extremely unhealthy and unsustainable system of human governance. Fearlessly forgive yourself. Then proactively go about reconditioning yourself. Reconditioning your preconditioning is the first step in self-healing. Then all you have to do is keep practicing it. And foster a good sense of humor. There’s no reason why you cannot transform the information gained from pain into a fun endeavor, or even a thrilling adventure. The icing on the cake of healing your own pain is cultivating a good sense of humor. Like the immortal Kurt Vonnegut advised, “We are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.”
4.) Be Your Own Hero
“Life should be lived to the point of tears.” –Albert Camus
So you’ve kicked your own ass, you’ve washed your own brain, and you’ve healed your own pain. Now it’s time to take all those tiny steps of self-overcoming and transform them into the much larger and much more precarious steps of self-overcoming known as self-heroism.
It’s time to transform the blood-sweat-and-tears gained from kicking your own ass, into the hard-fought-for-soul of being a force to be reckoned with. It’s time to transform the clutter of crushed mental paradigms leftover from washing your own brain, into a cultivation of connected dots that can catapult you into a heightened state of awareness. It’s time to transform the existential angst and cognitive-dissonance-residue garnered from healing your own pain, into a courage and a sense of humor of the most high. Like Friedrich Nietzsche ingeniously opined, “The great epochs in our lives are at the points when we gain the courage to rebaptize our badness into the best in us.”
It’s time to transform the outdated, unhealthy, and unsustainable mode of human governance into an updated, healthy, and sustainable mode of human governance. And that’s going to take self-made heroes. It’s going to take people with the capacity to kick their own ass, wash their own brain, heal their own pain, and then transform it all into a kind of cosmic heroism. It’s going to take people with a particularly unique flavor of courage. The kind of courage that causes Power itself to tremble in its makeshift throne. It’s going to take the kind of people who are a force of nature first and men or women second. The kind of people with the audacity to look into the mirror of their civilization and declare, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Read more articles from Gary ‘Z’ McGee.
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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