“I often think that he’s the only one of us who’s achieved immortality. I don’t mean in the sense of fame, and I don’t mean that he won’t die someday. But he’s living it. I think he is what the conception really means. You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict — and they call it growth. And in the end there’s nothing left, nothing unrevered or unbetrayed; as if there had never been any entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out of an unformed mass. How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment? But Howard — one can imagine him existing forever.”
Some people spend their entire existence trying to “find themselves,” aimlessly ricocheting from one trend to the next, one school of thought to another, like disconnected and dis-joined dots on a map with no discernible pattern. They project an underlying longing and neuroticism, not quite sure where they belong, but sure that this is not the place, there must be something else, something more important, more profound.
In the end, it is never found. For the self-seeking soul, life is nothing but a mirror reflecting the external.
Others spend their lives “making themselves,” building from scratch a soul of solidity. Though sometimes unsure through long stretches of life, this type eventually settles on specific goals, desires and favorites — favorite movies, songs, books, restaurants.
The individual of self-made soul began as self-seeking soul, but then grew and put forth the effort to morph into a self-made being.
And then there is the third and rarest type: the individual of pure self, who stepped into this world completed, with attitude and inclinations already in place; an inability to understand compromise, an inability to understand other people’s opinions, an inability to be swayed or coerced. Like the Greek goddess Athena, these individuals spring into the world fully-formed, ready for battle, weapons in hand.
This final type is the most threatening, as they cannot be molded to fit the rules or swayed by opinion. Notions of “appropriate” and “inappropriate,” “offensive” and “inoffensive,” do not play heavily into the mind of the pre-made soul. No, all that matters is feverishly pursuing what makes sense. And for those ruffled the wrong way by this type, well, that’s just too bad. So goes the thought of the pre-made soul.
True spiritual independence scares people — it scares the hell out of people — because it takes away everybody’s leverage. When one’s decisions are based on an evaluation of the facts, rather than on norms and trends, society loses its stranglehold over your actions. Hence the importance placed on fitting in, belonging, not making waves, maintaining status quo. Peer pressure does not cease to exist at eighteen or twenty-four; for most, it continues well into adulthood and even old age — all on the premise that, for some unknowable reason, I’m supposed to actually care about, and make decisions based on, what you think.
But I don’t care what you think. I care about what the facts say. Everything else is negotiable.
For those of pre-made soul, the decision is clear: control the facts, rather than be controlled by them. The man of pre-made soul does not die every day, does not change, does not deny, does not contradict. He fixates on his goal and walks towards it. He sees in the periphery those who are asking him to change, begging him to stop, pleading with him to be “open to suggestion and compromise.” But the steady step towards the inevitable, toward the goal, does not change.
We cannot live forever. A decision, on the other hand, can. An action, once taken, cannot be erased and cannot die. It will endure, with immortality. Be prepared to scare those around you with your resolve. Be ready to agitate those who disagree with your path.
Most importantly, realize that you may be walking stretches of your journey alone, with nobody there to lean on or to comfort you; however, the end goal is still there, in sight, and will be reached with continued forward steps. You can be the child, needing to be dragged forward by your hand, struggling to keep up; or you can drop the hand, walk independently, and choose to let others keep up with you.
Some souls were not meant for leashes. Some were not meant for chains. Some souls have simply always existed, and always will, brought into this world with resolve that will not cease. Will never die. Cannot die.
- David A. Johnston
Originally published at teamwarriorwithin.com on September 21, 2015.