By: Kam Willard
“…and what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb that much. I just liked to imagine the Summit.”
On the surface . . . the week has been fairly ordinary, filled with nothing but “the same ol’, same ‘ol”. However, inside my mind there’s a Ringling Brothers: Barnum and Bailey circus performance going on. An entire show consisting of mental backflips, trapeze twist and turn-like contemplation, and a ring of fire setting my thoughts ablaze. I’m almost ready to put my head in a Lion’s mouth for real!
Who’s responsible for conducting “The Greatest Show On Earth” inside my brain? A gentleman by the name of Mark Manson, author of ‘A Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’, a highly popular novel that’s migrating its way through the masses.
Mark gave me quite a bit to chew on that was a little unorthodox compared to what I had been consuming lately. One particular line in this book caused me to go down a pretty dark path, mentally:
“What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?”
Now immediately you may feel as though this is a cliché statement, especially since people tend to preach about “the struggle”. But, notice the first question one more time, “what pain do you want in your life?”. It took me a minute to fully adjust to this. I didn’t know how to respond at first. Desire more pain?! Why would I want to bring more pain into my life? Pain hurts, asshole. How is welcoming more of it going to help me? Better yet, how will I HEAL?!
When you read further into the chapter he begins to explain that the search for happiness is a problem. A problem that plagues us because we are going in the wrong direction in the attempt to solve our main one of ‘How do we live a better life?’. We believe that the answer is to pursue what gives us happiness. In reality, chasing after what makes you happy will only bring about more incidents in which you are not. Consequentially, you’ll be stuck with having to migrate through pain, failures, and moments that are problematic. The complete opposite of happiness.
My Father used to tell me, “Life is going to kick you in your ass.” Just like that, every bit of bluntness you can imagine. We must first, develop an acquaintanceship with our pain, fears and problems. We need to get completely comfortable with what we find uncomfortable about ourselves and our journey. The embracing of these issues will eventually give us the callous mentality that’s a necessity when facing the painful bullshit life hurls our way.
“Happiness requires struggle.” Manson states. “Our problems birth our happiness, along with slightly better, slightly upgraded problems.” Talk about a tough pill to swallow. My mind has been so occupied with moving past the pain that has resided in me for so long that I couldn’t imagine having to go back and dig up everything that I’ve struggled through, only to realize then that I needed more of it in order to propel me forward. Then I remembered the famous statement, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” At that moment, I got out of my bed, went to my bathroom mirror and wrote largely in black sharpie “What pain do you want in your life?”. Then, I stared at the man in the mirror in a deep gaze until I uncovered and invited the most difficult hardships I was willing to endure from that moment forward.
“If you think at any point you’re allowed to stop climbing, I’m afraid you’ve missed the point. Because the joy is in the climb itself.”