“We are anxiety-ridden animals. Our minds are continually active, fabricating an anxious, usually self-preoccupied, often falsifying veil which partially conceals our world.” ~ Iris Murdoch
Bypass the rubbish-heap and embrace the treasure-house. Begin by unfucking yourself. Unfucking yourself is as simple, and as difficult, as discovering what is unhealthy and what is healthy, and then proactively engaging the latter while untangling the stranglehold of the former. Yeah, not so easy is it.
First of all, what is healthy and what is unhealthy? I mean, who decides that? Well, we decide that, because Nature doesn’t really “decide.” But, and here’s the rub, Nature is the determining factor as to whether our opinion will be valid or not. You can have the opinion that gravity won’t apply to you if you step off a cliff, but Nature will prove that opinion invalid, and with a quickness. The same applies to all things, to a greater or lesser degree. If you are of the opinion that the rule-of-three doesn’t apply to you, for example – you have three minutes to oxygenate, three days to hydrate, and three weeks to eat before you’re on death’s door – then you will pay the price because Nature proves that breaking this universal law makes your opinion invalid.
This also applies to unfucking yourself. Unfuck yourself by abiding by universal laws (the golden rule, the non-aggression principle, the seventh-generation principle, and many other logical and reasonable principles) so as not to get fucked when those universal laws prove your opinions or actions invalid. Or worse, when those invalid opinions and actions lead to screwing your kids and grandkids out of a healthy future because you didn’t have the balls to stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone should have been.
2.) Reconcile with, and then initiate, your shadow:
“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” ~Tacitus
Shadow-work is soul-work. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Shadow-work is to soul initiation as the cocoon is to the butterfly. In both cases there is annihilation. In the latter case the caterpillar is being annihilated. In the former case the uninitiated ego is being annihilated. In both cases a more enlightened version emerges. Shadow-work is the necessary –yet extremely uncomfortable, insecure, uncertain, and risky– task of transforming the uninitiated ego into an initiated ego; into an individuated ego initiated by Soul, with the potential to further enlighten itself into self-actualization and self-transcendence (soul-craft).
But first things first: shadow reconciliation. There are many ways to achieve this: mindfulness meditation, deep solitude (eco-melting), self-interrogation tactics, cathartic art that transforms pain into love, and many more strategies. Don’t limit yourself. Use your imagination. Use lucid visualization. Imagine grabbing your shadow by the throat and then whispering sweet, compassionate, loving nothings into his (or her) ear. Put him in a choke-hold of tough love and give him a noogie. I mean take that fucker into the dirt, deep down into the muck and mire of your soul. Pin him down with –tender, yet ruthless; playful, yet fierce– loving kindness that breaks Fear’s hold over you both. Then bare witness as you both rise up as powerful allies rather than as mortal enemies.
Or, you could just keep your shadow as your enemy and fear as your master. Just keep going through the motions of being a scared shitless human with neither the courage nor the wherewithal for self-overcoming. But, coward beware, that will just keep your wishbone entrenched in that place where your backbone should be. A proactive backbone will always trump a prayer-giving wishbone. And when that backbone is empowered by shadow-work –watch out! A true force of nature is at hand.
3.) Take comfort, safety and security in moderation:
“Once we realize the extraordinary power we have to compose our lives, we’ll move from passive, conditioned thinking to being co-creators of our fate.” ~Jason Silva
Forget comfort; stretch your zone. Forget safety, risky endeavors are more fun. Forget security; there are adventures to be had that only dangerous freedom can allow.
Let the trailblazer be. Someone clinging to the safety, security, and comfort of the shore will be too worried about things going badly out on the dangerous seas of adventure. The person clinging to the shore is the same person wearing their wishbone where their backbone should be. If you want to continue being that person, fine. Just stay out of the way of the adventurers, the ones mad with passion and hungry for new seas and new shores. If you’re not willing to be proactive and engaged with living life to the fullest and making things better, then at least step aside and don’t impede those who are willing. Even better, cheer them on.
If, however, you want to proactively use your backbone instead of your wishbone, then take comfort, security, and safety in moderation. Don’t completely abandon them, mind you. We all need a healthy, comfortable, secure, and safe place to lick our wounds from time to time. Just don’t remain there for too long. Challenge yourself. Kick your pampered and overly domesticated inner procrastinator in the ass. Get out there and prove to the world that your backbone is robust and ready to stretch all comfort zones, and your wishbone is right where it should be: broken in good humor and gratitude over a thanksgiving dinner.
4.) Don’t give in to the Mr. Smith Effect (The Matrix):
“You have to understand. Most people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix
Ignorance can be dangerous, and willful ignorance doubly so. But the thing about ignorance is that the ignorant person doesn’t even know that he/she doesn’t know. They are stuck in a double-bind of cultural conditioning and political propaganda, high on their privilege and indoctrinated belief systems, and unable to even see a reason why they should question anything at all, let alone their own perception of things. As the Indian Proverb states, “You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.” They will just keep pretending they are sleeping (without realizing they are asleep) while the rest of the world slowly wakes up.
One way to counter the cognitive dissonance that emerges when our worldview is challenged by a controversial and challenging, yet healthier and more reasonably valid, worldview, is to tell ourselves, “Don’t give into the Mr. Smith Effect.” That is to say: break the spell that cultural-religio-political propaganda has over your logic and reasoning. Break the chain of blind obedience. Exorcise the Mr. Smith demon. Slice and dice the myopic human centipede that’s been forcing us all to eat shit for far too long. Willfully crush out. Question the answers, and then question the mold that created those answers. Come up with better questions rather than protecting entrenched answers –unless those answers are valid and justified by universal laws. As Nietzsche proclaimed, “The snake which cannot cast its skin must die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”
Or, you can continue clinging to your hand-me-down, spoon-fed, parochial “answers” grown uncouth and untenable through the passage of time. You can continue fellating the outdated man-machine that is systematically raping humankind while committing mass ecocide. You can continue your knee-jerk transformation into Mr. Smith every time someone challenges your unhealthy worldview with a healthier one. Just remember: You will just be further imbedding your wishbone where your backbone should be.
5.) Speak truth to power:
“Those in power rule by force, and the sooner we break ourselves of illusions to the contrary, the sooner we can at least begin to make reasonable decisions about whether, when, and how we are going to resist.” ~ Derrick Jensen
Un-wishbone yourself by re-backboning yourself. It begins with strategic disobedience. It ends with drawing a line in the sand and defying Goliath with David-like courage. This can be done through civil disobedience, political satire, insurgent art, non-violent resistance, defiantly scathing articles, even guerrilla gardening. Use your imagination.
Speaking truth to power is making a declaration of interdependence in the face of entrenched power. It’s counting coup on authority. It’s becoming a social leveling mechanism par excellence. Lest we give into the insanity that arises from entrenched power, we must remain self-empowered individuals seeking self-mastery through sound leadership, rather than self-inured individuals blindly following a chain of obedience that just keeps corrupt top-down power entrenched. As Albert Camus suggested, “It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” And then to go beyond and teach others (the docile and complacent wish-boners) how not to be on the side of the executioners.
All we need is courage and hope. Courage to speak for a healthier world, and hope that people will choose to be healthy. But courage must come first. Backbone first, wishbone second. Having a backbone is leading by robust and healthy example despite the weak and unhealthy crowd. Then it’s going one step further and teaching that crowd how to be strong and healthy by showing them how to stop wearing their wishbone where their backbone should be.
Gary Z. McGee