Of the many people I’ve met in my life, two types of people tend to hug the fringes of life’s spectrum.
- The person who sees life as responsibility. You get up everyday, go to work, save up for retirement, start a family, provide for them, come home, and then find happiness in small pockets. You die thinking “I did my best to take care of business while maintaining integrity and abiding by my ethical or moral code”.
- The existential who seeks happiness with a sense of carelessness. Someone who completely buys into the core principles of postmodernist thinking. Life will only cause you pain, knock you down, then curb stomp you for the hell of it. So why bother getting up? Live pleasurably and bask in the cynicism and irony that is our existence.
This isn’t necessarily a critique of how these types of people see life. It does seem though that the middle ground they want to stay clear of is tied to a sense of safety in certain identity.
Number 1 is your classic idea of a conformist. Society has been built a certain way, and we are obliged to fit into the puzzle to keep the machine functioning smoothly. We are a product of a past success. Keep the status quo.
Number 2 thinks they are the rebels, because in the traditional sense they are. Where society began to form an identity and began to conform to it, this group decided to reject the idea that the past defined them. Furthermore, they saw the pointlessness of putting in everything to conform when more than likely losers would come out the other end.
This isn’t a sociological history lesson. This is a lesson about fear of accepting anything other than what their trauma has put in place for them. Their flexibility has been hardened. Do you happen to find yourself starting to lean into one of these groups? I definitely have at times.
I dare you to challenge the belief in the following statements in the minds of these groups:
Number 1 : Life is work.
Number 2 : Life is pain.
Here’s a simple practice of language that could help someone be brave enough to wander into the middle ground and out of the shadows of the polar fringes:
Life is work, but…
Life is pain, but…
When you allow an exception to the rule, especially when it comes to life, all it takes is a simple acknowledgement that it can exist. We’re all scared of something, but life is best spent in the middle ground in sunshine, even if you do get sunburnt from time to time.
by ty miller