This one’s dedicated to all the lovers out there. The dreamers, with your starry-eyed hopes and ambitions and delicate, uncalloused hands. The believers, with your pastel watercolor sunsets and your inspirational quotes and your tidy endings where love conquers all.
Perhaps you’ve let the marketing teams at Coca-Cola and Apple and Netflix and Corona delude you into thinking that the meaning of life is love and happiness. That if you just dream big enough, you can find your inner beach. That if you just “find your passion,” you never need to work a day in your life. That perhaps comfort and convenience and pleasure are the pinnacle of human existence.
Please trust me on this.
Those glamour-peddling motherfuckers lied to you, stole your money, and left you with nothing of value.
Your couch is a pit of quicksand. Your smartphone is a leash. The emotional arc of your favorite TV show is falling down, falling down, falling down. And the things you consume to dull the pain are only making it worse.
Don’t get it twisted. I’m not talking about war and disease and tragedy and murder and torture. I’m talking about the good kind of suffering. The self-induced, singular-minded madness of trying. Of over-trying. Of conquering.
It’s like this.
We, as a society, have become so focused on optimization, convenience, and comfort that we, as individuals, have forgotten how to suffer. How to find the pleasure in pain. We forget that the real work – the stuff that actually matters – is not something you can skip or automate.
We, as a society, can no longer read maps or change our tires or sew buttons without an app, service, hired help, or automated robot drone. We invent weight loss pills and relish “lifehacks” and buy shit on credit because we want it now. It seems like all we want is that optimization, convenience, and comfort. But for what?
I’ll entertain the argument that some of these advancements free up our mental bandwidth so we can work on more complex challenges. For example, world-class physicists don’t need to do linear functions by hand so we can send a spacecraft to Mars. But what are YOU doing with your newfound freedom? Climbing steadily through levels of Candy Crush? Powering through Season 3 of Black Mirror? Learning, via their Facebook posts, that you actually hate your friends?
It can’t be. You must want something more. And not a fucking KitchenAid mixer. Not a fucking Vespa or puggle or new Jordans. Something bigger and better than you are today.
Maybe it’s getting out of a boring/destructive/broken/abusive/soul-sucking situation. Maybe it’s quitting your job. Maybe you need to lose 30 pounds.
You don’t just get a great life and body and career and friends. You aren’t just a recipient. You are a participant. You are the motherfucking protagonist of this story; you don’t get to just dick around on your iPhone all fucking day.
Believe this. The things handed to you? The things you just get? The things you receive because you asked politely? They will only consume you. Your privilege is your curse; it’ll haunt you and make you question what you’re actually made of.
Remember: To be anything at all, you have to suffer. And it’s going to fucking suck. But instead of hiding from that, I want you to embrace it.
What are you so fucking scared of anyway? Looking ugly? Your friends not seeing it? Shitting yourself alone on a mountain?
Find it. Go to that dark place. Press your hand against its cold, damp walls. Realize no one can save you. Realize that you are alone with your suffering. Be there. Be nowhere else. Let it take you over.
Realize that discomfort is a reward. Pain is a gift. And that the more you endure, the more you can take, the more you will grow.
Expect to lose friends and your mind and your precious comfort. Expect to feel pain and loss and failure. Expect misery. Expect suffering. But keep going.
I’ve heard it said that you have to learn to love the process, not just the outcomes. But that’s horseshit too. You do not have to love the work. You just have to do it.
Do you hear me? The long, hard road is ugly and painful and terrible, but if you take the fast path, you are going the wrong way.
Who told you to get comfortable? Who told you to sit back and watch? Who told you life was about avoiding pain and embracing pleasure? What hedonistic marketing executive brainwashed you into thinking you can buy and Snapchat your way into personal fulfillment? The house, the car, the nice TVs, the devices.
Fuck all that. I hope your fucking iPhone melts into sand. I hope you fail. I hope you hurt. I hope you suffer. It’s what you deserve.
That suffering is the most valuable fucking thing you own. There is no growth in comfort. There is no reach, no achievement, no life.
If you spend every day feeling comfortable, you are missing the entire meaning of life. You are stagnant. You are ordinary. You are nothing.
I’m trying to tell you. That misery? That’s the whole fucking point. That is the most important thing. Fuck pastels! Master the suck and you will paint the sky electric shades of blue and red and purple.
Life is not beautiful. Life is work. Now get your fucking shovel in the dirt and put your back into it.