Maybe we live in a dangerous world. Maybe this world has always been “unsafe” for those who weren’t sure what to do.
And I’d like to tell you there’s nothing to be afraid of, I’d like to tell you that failures build a man, that every fall is also a step forward. That what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…
But the truth is that, most times, what doesn’t kill you makes you wish it did.
Without a specific reason, I’ve always been most afraid that I would die alone. And everything I ever did in this life was because of this bizarre feeling. For example, when I was a kid I wanted to be able to talk to anyone about anything. So I began to read a lot of books, to watch a lot of TV shows and sports and stuff like that…
Of course, I didn’t get out of the house too much. Until high-school I didn’t really have friends. That’s why I started writing in the first place, I guess.
I was alone.
Then again, it wasn’t the best option. Writing because you’re alone is like taking painkillers to heal a wound. Yeah, it stops the pain, but only for a few moments.
Then came high-school, which is a different kind of war. It’s a four year period which forms much of your personality. I’ve made a lot of friends. And I’m being somewhat modest when I say a lot.
But I had to give up writing. I had to keep that side of me a secret.
And then everything changed.
Looking back, I honestly can’t realize how it all happened. The free-fall. In less than a year I had nothing. No friends, no money, no future.
Do you know how it feels when all you want is to simply live another day? When you dream and dream and dream, but you feel you haven’t got the strength to anything other but dream? When you spend year after year all alone…
When hope dies.
During those years I learned pretty much everything I know about life. By myself, without anyone to tell me. I learned that my tragedy is all mine. Pain can’t be compared or truly understood; there’s no such thing as genuine compassion. We sift everything through the filter of our own perception.
I had become a puny man in a world that was too big.
Like they say, I had reached the bottom of the shaft, and all I could do was ask, “Why? Why?”
And the only answer I ever found was, “Why not?”
At the same time, I realized that if I don’t change something, no one was going to help me. Like I wrote previously, I’ve spent all my life fighting against the monster of solitude, and all of a sudden I had realized that we are utterly and inconsolably alone.
I was free to do whatever I wanted. And that’s what I did.
Every once in a while, someone asks me for writing advice. “How do I write a good story? What makes good writing good?”
There is only one answer.
Find the thing you’re afraid of the most, rummage through your brain until it hurts, and write about it.
Because in all those years that’s what I did. I wrote about what I had and lost, about what I never had, and about all that I was certain I’d never have.
And I wrote until all my wounds healed. Now I’m working on inflicting myself new ones.
As much as art is a constructive process, in which we play God, at the same time is also a destructive process, in which we break pieces of our soul and throw them on paper.
I think you can get everything you want in life, that you can figure out who you want to be, what you want to do, and all that stuff. I believe you’re capable of wonderful things, as long as you have the courage to accept that it’s never going to be easy.
As long as you accept that there will also be pain involved. Maybe lots and lots of it. And you just have to keep fighting. You have to constantly reinvent yourself until you discover who you really are.
And, yes, at times you’ll be afraid. At times you’ll feel comfortable, and you’ll simply want to freeze a moment, hoping it will last forever.
But you’ve got to remind yourself, over and over again, that there are no destinations in life. Only roads.
No matter who you are or what you do, life’s full of moments of doubt, of petty frustrations, or sacrifices. Sometimes you’ve got to go down roads that appear in no maps whatsoever. And then your compass breaks.
And if you look behind you, all you can see is a road paved with regrets. And it seems that before you there’s this road going nowhere.
Maybe sometimes it’s well to remember that “nowhere” is a lot closer to “anywhere” than we might think.
The Best of Cristian Mihai: Essays is available on Amazon.com. Here.