We had been talking for nearly 15 minutes when I realized that he couldn’t read. I wanted to cry. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and pat his back and say “We’ll take care of this, don’t you worry.”
Instead, I asked him if he knew how to read. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” I said. The more we talked, the more he revealed about the profound shame he felt about his illiteracy. And he didn’t want to listen when I assured him that it wasn’t shameful. That it could be remedied.
He just shook his head and said, “It’s too hard.”
And my heart just about broke. But I saw something in his response that repeats itself endlessly:
We do not do enough to honor ourselves
We bend over backwards for approval and pats on the head from our bosses, spouses, siblings, parents, coaches, friends, and teachers. We strive with hideous effort to say “look at me look at me! I’m here! I exist and that’s a good thing!”
Often, we have no sense of identity beyond what we are worth to another person. That is not the mindset of a confident, healthy individual. That is the mindset of a weaker person expecting to be dominated by another. Perhaps even thinking that that is what they deserve.
Honor your body. Fill it with good things. It is your birthright to be better. It is your obligation to be more. Give yourself the gift you deserve: progress.
Honor your mind. Fill it with good things. Make it useful. Keep it sharp. The ability to formulate coherent sentences is vanishing rapidly. I see it every day. It is indicative of the inability to formulate coherent thoughts.
I have some news: if you depend on those who can still think, if you let your mind and all of its analytical capabilities dwindle…then someone else is going to be making your decisions and reasoning on behalf of those who no longer can.
Quit trying to take care of everyone but yourself. Step up and take what is yours: health and happiness and peace of mind. Don’t blame others, but don’t blame yourself to the point where you’ve received such a self-inflicted bludgeoning that you are paralyzed with shame.
You have a purpose, and just because someone doesn’t believe that doesn’t make it less true. Your purpose is to make progress, in any and all ways possible.
Honor yourself by honoring your body, biology, and mind. Be more. Do more. Live more. Stop looking around for solutions. Look in the mirror. Look at your body, look yourself in the eyes, and figure out just what you are going to accomplish today.
Then, tomorrow, repeat and improve. Endless, predictable, exquisite progress.
Why would you have it any other way?
One day you’ll be dead. That is a fact. From now until then, every day should be filled with joy, progress, and a hell of a lot of laughter.
Some of us will spend many of the precious days left to us wallowing in pits we never should have dug in the first place.
Some of us will say, “It’s too hard.”
No…no it isn’t.
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