Today I write with a plea.
I’m watching so many people around me turn to stone. They quit. They quit trying, chasing, wanting. They quit caring. Life has, understandably, taken them down.
Life will always do its best to erode your soul and often it succeeds.
I worry about people like us who search for meaning and purpose. I worry that will we forget that that is not something you find on the outside, but discover and invent on the inside.
I was very angry about this truth for a long time. How life manages to commit atrocities on scales so great, but beauty in subtly. A sunset, your daughter’s face as she sleeps, the recognition that you have an opposable thumb, the miracle that is speech and understanding. None of that compares to the bomb of being, well, quite literally bombed or kicked out of a country or having been raped or witnessing murder or enduring racism or experiencing emotional abandonment or all the other million horrors that constitute life.
None of us get out unscathed, it is impossible. No matter how “blessed” your life is. We all face terror. The cruelest thing we do is rank order it. Your terror is worse than my terror. My terror is worse than your terror. As if we have a monopoly on suffering and that wins us a medal. It wins us nothing but more suffering.
Some suffering is gratuitous. It is. I don’t know why and I didn’t invent the system and if The Universe had consulted me before creating itself out of nothing, I would have had notes.
But seeing as it didn’t, and here we are, I ask you please: Don’t quit.
Don’t quit fighting for the unreasonable demands of hope.
Hope can be toxic when misapplied. When it becomes fantasy and escapism or the desire for something to be different from what it is. When it is used to avoid the Truth. When it lies. I’m not talking of the kind of toxic positivity that keeps you in a state of denial.
I’m talking of hope for yourself.
That you do not quit on you. That you do not quit on believing you are worth fighting for, your dreams are worth having, and that your desire to matter and make a difference is important.
They call this kind of talk naive and idealistic. To that, I say: yes. We could use more naive idealism. And I don’t see why that cannot sit next to radical acceptance of reality.
You can live in reality and still believe you are worthy of love, meaning, belonging, fulfillment, and purpose. Because you are. Even if all evidence you’ve collected to date stands in opposition to this belief.
Humans do cruel, unkind, and mean things to each other. The world is not fair. The systems are a mess. There is so much to be angry about (and I hope you are, I hope you are angry). But don’t waste that anger. Don’t let it eat you or harden into resentment.
Because that is how you lose your heart and you lose your soul and you lose yourself.
Life makes absolutely no sense, I won’t lie to you. But the gift of being human is that we can invent meaning, even when there is none.
And I hope you do. I beg you to. Invent it, find it, and don’t quit on your quest to make things better.
Quit on toxic positivity. Quit on mistreating others. Quit on lying, cheating, hustle culture, hacks, performing happiness, self-deception, martyrdom, convenience, compliance, obedience, ignorance, and saying “yes” when you mean “no.”
But do not quit on you.
Do not quit on us.
Humanity has always been fucked from the start, this is a story as old as time and frankly, it’s boring. Hearing all this panic about the rise of machines and disease and war and cruelty and climate – none of this is new. (But the scale margo! The scale!) No, the scale was always big, we simply didn’t know about it. (But this is different). Fine, then choose different.
Panic is boring. Romanticizing the past is sad. And denying reality is dangerous.
Don’t do it.
Choose to keep yourself in the midst of a culture that wants you to fit in and shut up. Choose to speak up when it’s inconvenient and people might not like you. Risk your relationships and reputation for what matters.
Know what matters.
We quit when we get confused. When our value system gets mixed up with others’ expectations for and of us. When we forget what matters. When we forget who we are.
So many of us are suspended in unprocessed pain, working it out on our relationships, our work, our life. Pretending that isn’t what we are doing. We run until we’re numb. We tell ourselves lies to make ourselves feel better and to make it make sense.
It doesn’t make sense. I’ll save you some time.
You have every reason to spend your life heartbroken, disillusioned, and angry. Asking “what’s the point” and “why bother?”
But I hope you don’t.
I hope you answer the question, even if the answer is made up. It’s all made up anyway, so make up something BETTER. Tell yourself a better story. Choose a different ending.
We cannot control the cruelty that is the world. But we can choose to find light in spite of it. If even it’s tiny. If it’s unfair and unjust and not right and you deserve better and more – because you do.
We won’t get to better if we quit. If we succumb. If we stop believing that we are entitled to happiness and rest and fulfillment and love. Because we are.
So, please, I beg of you.
Don’t quit. Don’t quit on you. Don’t quit on us.
We need you. I need you.
Hold the vision AND live in reality. We can do both. You can do both.
It’s the only way to save the world.
Forward this to someone who needs to hear it. And share this with your friends. Help us stay the course and prevent the widespread epidemic of self-deception, abandonment, and meaninglessness.