"You are alone."
Seems depressing at first.
Perhaps it will always feel depressing for you.
For me, however, they are the three most golden words I’ve ever heard.
When I was younger my father bestowed upon me these three words when I was moving from one city to another. I packed up my car and was beginning my journey as a young man and my attempt to take a piece of this country for myself.
We were traveling from Chicago to Boston and we were somewhere in upstate New York- perhaps just outside Buffalo or Rochester.
My father and I were shooting the shit. I remember it was a fantastic ride.
We were vagabonds.
We were cowboys.
We were desperados.
We only stopped when we needed to pee. We had leftover pizza sitting on top of the dashboard. When we were hungry, we pulled a slice out and at 80 miles an hour, scarfed it down without missing a beat.
We were free.
In the 20 or so hours to get to our destination we covered many topics.
We talked about what it was like to be a man.
We talked about what it was like to set out on your own.
We talked about abstract ideas.
We talked about women.
My father told me of his failures and triumphs. He told how proud he was of me. He offered many different life lessons and pieces of advice.
One piece of advice I’ll never forget and I’ll preach the idea of it until the day I die.
“You are alone.” he said. “You are completely alone on this Earth. You are the only person that can dictate the thoughts that go on in your head. You are the only one that needs to confront your fears. You are the only one that will act on your dreams. When are just about to fall asleep, you are the only one that hears those thoughts. When you are just waking up in the early hours of the morning, again, you are the only one to hear those thoughts. You will have many people close to you in life. Your mother and I will be the closest. Next you will have your brother and sister. Perhaps you will find a life partner. You will have friends and coworkers. But again, at the end of the day, you are alone.”
At first, after hearing this, I was falling into a pit of despair.
I couldn’t believe this beacon of a man that I looked up to for all of my life was spitting this belief of nihilism.
“How could he be so hopeless?” I thought.
“How could he feel so cold?”
I tried to let what this man, this man I love so much, sink in.
After a few moments I understood what he meant.
I was alone.
Which essentially meant:
I am free.
I am free to follow my dreams. I am free to think what I wish. I am free to try. I am free to fail. I am free to love. I am free to lose.
When you strip away all of the thoughts and wants and needs of other people you give yourself a “blank canvas” in which to create. You truly give yourself the ability to paint your own picture- to create your own life.
After hearing this, the gravity of his words hit me. Again, I was free to be me.
The idea of this freedom as an individual has never left me since.
Of course there are times where I struggle with dealing with other people. I know I am going to need to negotiate and navigate through this life with the help of others- especially my closest loved ones.
I do know that this is my life. Do I want to share it with people? Absolutely! I think when you realize yourself and clean that self up, it helps you offer yourself more to other people. You become grounded in who you are and that energy is contagious to others.
You are alone thus you are free.
When you are free, what will you do with that freedom?
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