There comes a point when you realise that you have little control over your own life; not real control anyway. We always think we do, I mean, we work in jobs we enjoy most of the time, we live by the guidelines set out for us, we buy the products we need and we enjoy the free time we have outside of work. What this should really say is, we work to make someone else a profit, we buy produce and goods that are served and heavily marketed, we follow the rules set out for us by someone we assume knows best and we spend a good portion of our free time trying to recover from the working week. This is where we come unstuck. This is where we are wrong. It’s also easy to fix and a lot easier than we think too.

So how do we right this wrong? Lets start with why we are wrong …

In the past 20 years, marketing has sky rocketed, and so has conformism. When I think of marketing, I don’t think of it as happy messages that a company wishes to convey, I think of it by its Military term: Information Operations. These Information Operations are designed specifically to alter the way you think, to embed an idea and convince you of it; all without you realising it’s happening. Information Operations is also the broader term used to group activities like Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) … scary right? I should know, I’ve written an essay on it and have even taken part in it. So what does this have to do with conformism? If the mass media and global corporations are convincing everyone to believe their message, it makes it easier to swallow and be part of the crowd.

So how do we fix this? How do we live life on our own term?

In his influential essay ‘Self-Reliance’, Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

He also states:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

We are told from a young age to be different, to follow our own path; but so few of us do. Some of us, myself included, fear being wrong. We fear that someone will tell us that what we are doing and what we believe is wrong; simply because we are not conforming. That fear controls us; it stops us from reaching our potential and being truly free. So we need to break from fear. I strive to live by the following sentiment: ‘What is the worst that can happen?’. Sure, someone can tell me I’m wrong (most of the time they can’t even justify it), but I know in my heart, with my soul and in my mind that I am right, and what I believe in is true; what’s the worst that can happen – People think I’m crazy, and I get to be happy.

I wear Vibram FiveFinger shoes because I know they are better for me and they make me feel free, despite the weird looks I get.

I devour classic literature and philosophy because I believe that it develops and liberates the mind and the soul; despite stark criticism for being someone who ‘reads’.

I grow as much of my own produce as I can, I strive to be environmentally friendly, and I love the smell of burning incense; despite being criticized as a greenie or hippie.

I smile and wave at kids, because when I was working in Timor Leste for most of 2012, I learnt the power of compassion and the simple giving and sharing of enthusiasm; sometimes all happiness needs is a shared smile.

I do these things because I know them to be true, even if no one around me believes in it. I do it because it makes me happy, and it makes me feel alive. It gives me the freedom to choose.

I have a few ties to cut before I can truly live life on my own terms, but that shouldn’t stop you.

Always question preconceptions.

Always think outside the box.

Never stop dreaming.

Don’t blindly follow the rules.

Fight for what you believe in.

Don’t let anyone ever stop you from following your own path.

… Live life on your terms, and for once, have real control over it.

In the absence of the mind, the slow death of the heart, the air grows perilously thin. Your lungs begin to shrink, your eyes grow weak and you begin to only hear silence. Time grows longer and days become weary. Measures of distance are amplified, becoming relative to meaning. A loneliness embodies your existence, borrowing what life you have left; never to give it back. You feel nothing, not even the darkness that resembles the remnants of the soul. Looking in the mirror, not recognizing the reflection, you tremble on weak legs. At night you lie awake, feeling vacant, alone and cold. Sometimes you feel part of what was once there. You can’t name it; but you know it’s there, eating away at what’s left. A ghost that never wanes …

There are days that just make no sense and days that are consumed by a cloud of doubt and confusion. Sometimes all we can do is plough into the darkness, holding nothing back, with arms wide open. If we don’t enter the darkness, we don’t learn anything; all we do is tread lightly around our fears, barely living. No matter how much pain is in that darkness, always keep your hands open and your arms free; otherwise you might miss the small light shining within the abyss. The light that will pull you through …

Siting in a room of deafening silence, feeling the clock tick over, in an atmosphere that is stagnating, we ponder the realities that envelope us. While we are guilty of letting personal fault deepen, we find ourselves persistently analysing faults and cracks in the society that surrounds us. where ignorance and intolerance prevail causing a collapse of social norms and selflessness.

We dream of a life more than what is, we expect more from others than we know they can give, to have held onto ideals that at times, seem irrelevant in the mechanisms our society is building for itself. To pursue the idea of a present day nirvana, striving for a more deeper understanding than what we possess. Where elation is found in the pages of books, the warmth of her body, an endless imagination and a life of exploration and discovery; can we allow society to poison the foundation of these dreams?

If one was to sit in this silence, and weigh up the life we want and the ideals to live it by, against the normality of society, one statement holds true; we are all mad.

A darkness fills the room, and emptiness is created like no other. I sit still, drink in hand. Silence surrounds and flows through the air, it becomes so thick words fail to pass through it. The world sits still, for a time a tranquility is created in the depths of absolute emptiness. I find solitude in this darkness, it understands me as I understand it. For a moment in this detachment I can see everything, all that has passed, all that is now, everything that could be. It is in this moment that I distinguish between fact and fiction, forming realizations over the ideals of life. As time ticks over the true emotions are actualized. Everything falls into place, yet the silence remains. We are lost in this moment, falling through thought with no end in sight. Yet we know once the silence rolls out, when the light returns, when the moment fades away, something must change.

There comes a point where we rethink our lives, our dreams, our desires and the path of our fate. We accomplish the ideals we set out for ourselves so long ago, and now with a mind so open, we are free to explore again. After living in a world so closed, so out of shape, we forget the fundamentals and feeling of authentic halcyon. To be able to open our senses and our mind, to feel freedom and a relaxation long lost is to be ourselves.

In the mix of a darkness that had entwined our lives, the struggles we fought, the ideas and beliefs we held, there is always a singular event that catches our soul by surprise.
We create rules, images and falsehoods to protect ourselves, measures of survival, we are running from a fleeting idea; an idea that turns out to generated by fear.
The day we take risks against our survival instincts, ignoring fear and pursuing happiness is the day we surprise ourselves, become ourselves, and save ourselves from decadence.
It is at this brink that not only do we prevail, but we understand how true every emotion, thought and belief is.

Opinion and beliefs are all a product of perception, shaped and moulded on individual agendas, desires and ideals. This perceived insight acts as a proxy between the real world and the domain we choose to exist in. This multiplicity in comprehension causes friction and conflict between identities. Where an external party’s endeavor to influence the perception of others generates doubt and fear in one’s own ability to recognize the dimensions of existence around us. This leads to one simple question: Why am I questioning myself? When no one is more apt in understanding our own existence than ourselves. While if the supreme perception fails to coincide, than it is safe to assume one is suffering delusions of grandeur. Until that moment comes we can do nothing more than trust our intuition, and trust that our instincts and existence have not led us astray. While we travel through this life, if we ever let others alter our perceptions by inducing fear and doubt we are giving away part of ourselves that once lost, can never be truly balanced. For as long as there is an actuality there will always be an anomaly and difference between the opinions and beliefs that separate the self and the aggregation. It is in this difference that we must trust.

There are few things that scare us within this world. We acknowledge these triggers and why they instigate the need and reaction to fade away. We design methods for handling and manipulating these emotions and reactions, to minimise the effect and to control ourselves in times of chaos. However it is only at times when we least expect to find it, that fear creeps upon us. The excessive fear is drawn out of our feelings for those we care about in our lives; those that hold meaning. Our usual processes fail in every way, we almost begin to drown in it, struggling to find resolve. Hunter S. Thompson once said you should never turn your back on fear, it should always be in front of you, like something that might have to be killed. While the point is clear and regardless of the intoxicating fear, we must contain it and force it into awareness. Fear is an uncertainty in the unknown, it is a basic survival trait in all living souls and because of this, fear can be disregarded. The day we let fear channel our decisions we become lost to ourselves. In times of absolute fear, we must find a strength beyond conscious thought, otherwise we are nothing more than slaves to the uncertain. Fleeing from existence itself…

Sometimes we believe we have ourselves worked out. With a decent understanding of our thoughts and beliefs, our ideals and motives; we live our lives the way we do. Whether it could be by some distinct cosmic interference, a mystical force of nature or pure coincidence; we find ourselves facing an unexpected and intense moment. The effect it has on us we could not predict, yet fathom. It creates an inverse reaction to our usual process. It’s entangling, enthralling and intoxicating. When we pause we create a confusion within our beliefs, producing a fear and uncertainty that questions events passed. The human instinct is never wrong, it’s designed to keep us alive and we must trust it over all fears. While our instincts feed us one idea, often our head and heart fail to agree. This conflict is caused by past events and ideals present. While we face circumstances which may challenge ideals held since times existence, we must remember our instinct and trust the way we feel at hand.