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What's the worst that could happen?

Sunday 2/25/24

With the internet, anyone can reach out to almost anyone and say something warm or appreciative or supportive or friendly, and yet that's what few people do. To many, that would be a gargantuan feat, a terrifying proposition, when it's so simple and consists of little to no actual risk. You could say, "Really liked that photo of you by that stream on your hike. Looks like a great spot." Or, "Saw from your posts that you've been dealing with some stuff. That's really admirable that you're doing what you need to do to take care of your health."


Things can come of things like this. Friendships may be made, circles can get widened. Other people are met as a result of that initial effort, subsequent exchanges, and the resulting progression. Developments we do not foresee because this is how life works. But that's not what people do. I see so many people who would like to have people who don't have people. That seems to make them more narcissistic, but it's almost like narcissism as a defense mechanism, or the result of a desperate retreat after a succession of defeats.


But how much defeat can there really be if so little effort is made? The emotional stock in trade becomes the click. The racking up of likes. (And similarly, the issuing of likes. I see people for whom that's the sum of their life, as if this makes them a part of something--a community, human intercourse, the world--when in reality they've caused themselves not to truly belong to or align with anything, including themselves, and also honor, self-respect, and sincerity.) The accumulation of false compliments. The latest pile of empty expressions of praise. We must instead say, "This is a thing I don't normally do, but I'm going to do it now." That can be further encouraged along with simple logic. A concomitant query of, "What's the worst that could happen?"


That attitude and approach of, "I'm going to do this thing that isn't a default mode move" is one that ought to be transposed to all of a person's life. When you get really good at it, you become that way. Meaning is fostered because you're always in the searching position, if you will. The searching position isn't always about "answers to it all." It's about freshness and life, and even in small amounts, those are potent factors. They enrich us.


Cowardice stands in opposition to all of this, and rare is the person in this world, at present, who is not a coward. I see very few people who are not governed by, ruled, and shackled to their cowardice. Being so chips away at the rest of what a person can be, or who that person was. Chips away at their intelligence, their morals, and over time renders them, in a very real way, a crippling form of helpless--the type that also erodes mental health. They have to dispense with standards in others, the world, and the people within their world, such as it is, as they've done with themselves.


Consequently, they become these fake, hollow people whose lives consist of so much meaningless signage and no substance. They have to surround themselves with others doing the same thing, so that they can blend in. Blending in is one of the chief goals of the coward. It becomes their gospel. They will give up any part of themselves--or any chance for happiness, meaning, and the ability to partake of, and further, the human cause of joy--in order to do this blending in. It's actually like becoming less and less alive, until that bottoms out, which can happen surprisingly fast. That most people are this way, means that society is now this way. And where is anyone getting themselves as a result? Where are they getting themselves with each other? Where are they getting themselves, too, within themselves?


We live in the world by dint of the geography of existence, and we live inside of ourselves by dint of the reality of being human. We move about externally, but like the turtle, we take the place to which we always return--and where we also always are, even when we are elsewhere, too--with us. The relationship of these residences works both ways. It is the old two way street. How we are on that inside does not guarantee external opportunity. There aren't a lot of people who have made sure not to be governed and held back--and eventually de-materialized into an amorphous form of interchangeable, loose-fitting identity--by cowardice. The numbers aren't on one's side. But that means more effort is necessary. And effort can be but a line or two of friendly inquiry or expression. What is the worst that can happen? What is the best that can happen? Regarding the latter query, what I would say is we don't have an answer. And that's a good thing, because it means that possibilities are not capped. Live, throughout the day, each day, as someone who takes the lid off possibility--not as someone who screws it on tighter.


When you think about it, the things I detailed above regarding how people are and end up making themselves be, is what one ought to really be scared of. But people are not that way, and cowardice robs them of the wisdom--and even just the simple, necessary awareness--they might have had.



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