You know those “terms and conditions” you have to read over and accept? Well, we should have been told that 2020 is going to be quite an interesting year… interesting in the sense that the stuff they write about in history books is going to happen almost every single month.
But this is not why I am writing these words.
An article by yours truly about 2020, and what’s going on, and how to best cope with the things that are going on.
Many years ago, a student asked cultural anthropologist Margaret Meade a simple question; what was, in her opinion, the earliest sign of civilization.
You know, whether it was the discovery of fire, or the invention of the wheel. Or something of the sorts.
Her answer took him by surprise. She said the earliest sign of civilization was “a healed femur.”
You see, in the animal kingdom, where only the fittest survive, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, you cannot drink or hunt for food. No creature survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. You are eaten by predators long before that.
In the world of hunter-gatherers, a person with a fractured thigh bone would be thought of as useless and left to die.
But a femur that has healed is evidence that someone had taken the time to stay with the one who was injured, had bound up the wound, had carried the person to safety, and had hunted and gathered food for this injured person until their leg healed.
Someone had to provide care for another who couldn’t care for themselves.
Margaret Meade said that the evidence of compassion was the first sign of civilization.
We are only as strong as the weakest among us. That’s how it’s always been.
Do you know how we became the dominant species on the planet?
We often forget that changing ones life does not happen during a four minute montage. Yes, we could make a four minute montage of how we got into fitness and lost a lot of weight and ended up being shredded.
No, this is not how things go in life.
“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor” ― Alexis Carrel
Change is a painful and slow process. You have to struggle against a million voices in your head telling you that you shouldn’t do this or that.
The act of bettering oneself is not to be taken lightly.
Life’s kind of short. I’ll be thirty in a few months, and — if I’m being honest— although it feels like I’ve been here forever, if I look back, it’s as if everything I’ve done so far has gone by in the blink of a second.
At my age, I’ve probably only got another a few more decades. You may not have much longer. I don’t say this to depress you — I say this to challenge you: What are you going to do with your time? Are you killing time or are you seizing it?
“When people say they’re skeptical, or pessimistic, I get it. But let’s face it, you’re gutless. It takes no guts to be a skeptic. It takes no guts to try nothing and say it’s not gonna work. It takes guts to put your ass on the line and believe something’s possible. It takes guts to pursue an answer. It takes guts to fail and step back up and keep pushing”
Your mind is designed in such a way to prevent you from getting hurt. In nature, this is a genius mechanism that ensures your survival. But in the our society, we have developed the “someday” mechanism.
Someday we’ll be good enough or brave enough or smart enough or have the time to do this or that.
Someday we’ll become what we’ve always wanted to be.
Someday we’ll write our book or start our business.
And most people wait their entire lives for this someday, which never comes.
The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling. – David Foster Wallace
Written by someone who ended up hanging himself, I think he knew what he was talking about.
Deciding to end one’s life needs quite a lot of contemplating on the subject. And, truth of the matter, we could debate the accuracy of such a description and all aspects of depression and suicide until the end of time, without arriving at a certain conclusion.
Maybe it’s got to do with emotional resilience. Maybe it’s got to do with neurological damage, with hormones and stuff. Continue reading →