Be Fearless in the Pursuit of Your Dreams

“Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.”

Ray Bradbury

Whenever I am faced with the negative psychological side-effects of previous failure, I inevitably remember the way they famously train elephants in circuses.

All it takes is a rope around the animal’s neck and a pole planted in the ground. They tie a baby elephant against the pole. The baby elephant will try to walk away, only to figure out that they’re not strong enough to break free.

Yes, they will fight, for a while, but they will eventually understand that they can’t break free.

And, even as the elephant grows large enough to probably tear down the entire tent, they never even try to break free.

We are like this in more ways than we’d like to admit.

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Don’t Turn Your Back on Mental Discomfort

What often stands in the way of our dreams and goals is an innate, biological reaction to anything unknown, anything that might get us killed, hurt, or rejected by others.

In short, the lizard brain.

Not only do we turn our backs on fear, but we also tend to rationalize it in such a way that it makes it seem like nothing happened.

In order to avoid mental pain, we come up with the most bizarre excuses possible.

I don’t have a driver’s license because I don’t like to drive. Truth is, I never believed I could save enough money to buy a car, so I rationalized myself out of mental discomfort.

The truth? I was afraid.

So what can I do about fear? Not in a temporary manner, but rather in a way that changes me from the inside and transforms my life?

It’s simple. I should make it my aim to never turn my back on mental discomfort.

Life is pain, and I should accept it and even learn to appreciate the moments of fear and discomfort as they allow me to better myself.

The game of life is simple: we either venture into the center of our fears, and we grow, or we turn our backs on fear, and we stagnate or worse.

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Instead of Killing Myself, I Wrote a Story

The very surreal feeling of wanting to end your life, especially in the loud chaos of a bustling city — a city with people and lights and billboards and cars chasing one another all day and night, headed for nowhere in particular.

The burning sensation that crawls up and down your skin as you contemplate not having to hold the world on your shoulders anymore.

The chaos, the commotion, all these perfect strangers. Motion, commotion. Emotion.

I wanted to kill myself, but instead, I sat down to write:

I keep a small revolver tucked under my pillow. Every morning, I wake up and grab the little device and turn it on all sides. I inspect it as if its power of destruction could be easily comprehended.

Sometimes I press the barrel to my right temple. My index finger curled around the trigger, I close my eyes and count to ten. Of course, the gun’s never loaded.

Nevertheless, it makes you think.

You see, this is the only power we have. True freedom, as I like to say, comes from the realization that you can kill yourself any time you want.

Sunlight slipping through the heavy curtains, casting red dots on the walls, I can feel my blood boiling inside my body. My heart beats like a fist inside my chest; the metallic coolness of the gun infects my skin.

Loaded or not, it doesn’t matter.

I’m ready to pull the trigger. I want to see God and ask Him a million questions. I press the gun to my chest and take a deep breath. “This is not my life.”

We all die and there’s nothing terrifying or great about it.

“This isn’t a life worth living.”

The gun pressed hard against my chest, right where the heart should be, I pull the trigger. That’s when I can open my eyes. That’s when I can smile. When I can feel alive just because I could’ve and yet I didn’t.

Every morning I wake up and die.

“True freedom, as I like to say, comes from the realization that you can kill yourself any time you want.”

My character’s name was Paul. A painter. An artist. The burden of his own creative genius, the pain of ideas and dreams and hopes turning to rust and stardust.

That’s why I called this story, Dream City. We often forget that nightmares are dreams too.

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The Art of Living as if You’re Going to Die Tomorrow

They say we are capable of experiencing millions of different mental states, yet we waste most of our life cycling through the same five or six of them.

There are around 200 countries in the world, yet one in five people never travel to another country. They also tend to die within a fifty-mile radius of where they were born.

The average person spends eight hours per day sleeping, six hours watching television, and more hours than I’d care to count rewatching the same movies and TV shows, reading the same books over and over again.

The average woman will kiss 15 men, enjoy two long-term relationships, and have her heartbroken twice before she finds someone she can settle with. The average woman will have seven sexual partners, while the average man ten.

I, too, am guilty of most of these things. I have wasted most of my twenties by being depressed, socially anxious, broke, single.

I have wasted three years of my life wishing for someone who didn’t love me to come back.

I only ever traveled to England for a total of ten days. Once.

I, too, have rewatched the same movies, over and over again, with different people or all by myself.

And I, too, have been reading The Great Gatsby once a year ever for the past decade or so.

But more tragically than all of that, I have wasted an awful lot of time vacationing on Someday Island.

“Someday I’ll be a published author. Someday I’ll find the love of my life. Someday I’ll be financially free.”

Someday…

And you know what makes someday such a perverse word? We often couple it with “if only.”

We lose hope before we even embark on the journey.

And that’s how we waste our time.

The truth is that life’s a beautiful thing. Yeah, life’s pain. But it’s the kind of pain that reminds you that you are alive.

It would be quite terrible to live forever because then we’d all be kings and queens of procrastination.

You’re going to die. And I don’t say this to make you panic or anything. The panic will grow inside you, as your time runs out, as you grow tired and weary and unable to do what you’ve always wanted to do but postponed.

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Your Journey Towards Home Is Your Home

We often think the point of being a human is to establish a self that is free from suffering, that is free from the outcome of pursuing happiness, love, success, fame, money…

The point of being human is not to travel to a place where everything is perfect. Instead, it is to understand that your struggle to establish a human self is inseparable from the self it creates.

In other words, your journey towards home is, in fact, your home.

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