I suppose I have been working through these thoughts for many years, probably since I first began reading fantasy novels as a young child.
These style of books are strange in that they, when well written, can encompass the complexity of life in full and thrust it into our minds in a way that few other kinds of books can due to the freedom the author has in expressing emotions and opinions through multiple facets such as the way kingdoms are ruled, political machinations, friendship, love and of course war.
Growing up reading these books gave me a skewed view of life ; I could never fit in at school, the problems of hormone-driven teenagers seemed foolish to me. Not to raise myself above them as I was just as guilty of idiocy at a younger age(and still to this day) but that in friendships and relationships I just could not come to terms with how much time was wasted on frivolities and mistrustful posturing.
Whatever seemed like the “in” thing to do at the time repelled me. Whether it was smoking, doing drugs, drinking, talking about cars and how hot a girl was(not that I didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time fantasizing about women, mind you haha).
So, as you can imagine, I grew up constantly conflicted by what everyone around me was doing and saying and what was raging through my mind. I was constantly at odds with everyone, and with myself, because I was swayed by the things people around me did and I, like everyone else was also just as eager in some ways to cater to those baser desires that constantly threatened to overwhelm me at all moments.
In regards to drugs and smoking and those things, I seemed quite easily able to overcome any pull to try them. But I succumbed to weakness in many other ways; huge amounts of time wasted in front of the computer, playing games that served no purpose, watching shows that did not develop my mind in any way positive, hells if I could get back the amount of hours spent watching porn I could probably add a few years to my life. Whenever I was stressed or had to push myself to do anything worthwhile I would easily give up, running to these simple distractions and blaming the world and its stupid systems for my problems.
At 26, I wish I could say that I have conquered all these issues but alas I cannot. I have very slowly, one fumbling step at a time, moved myself past many of these things, but I have fallen many times, had to pick myself up and start all over, trying again and again with many variations to push myself to become better, to be the kind of man that I would like to meet.
I don’t mean to imply that everyone should be perfect, but I believe that in all things we must realize two very important points; The first is that yes, not all in life can be in your control but that secondly you must take responsibility for what you do in life and what life has given you and make the best of it that you can.
Integrity. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Many would equate morality with religious jargon, but I have no interest in ancient books written by people who believed in fairy tales. I love fantasy books, but I know the difference between reality and lala-land. To me, integrity and morality are intrinsically linked.
Each and every one of us MUST develop a code, a moral framework to live our lives within, and it is the most difficult thing in life to do. To develop a set of principles to devote our lives to striving towards, and our baser desires will war with it, every single day of our lives.
That little voice in your head will whisper sweet words to you, “it is okay just lie and you will get away with it”, “just take this you deserve it”, “just lay down and relax you have done enough”. At everyone moment in your life you will have a choice and this voice will try to get you to take the easy way out.
Now this is not a condemnation to say that it is wrong to search for simpler, easier ways of doing things. Finding the difficult path is not always logical or better, but following through on what you truly believe in is not an easy thing most of the time.
People will try to pressure you to take the easy road; ‘just have this piece of cake”, “just try smoking just once”, “aren’t you curious to see what it is like?”.
Some people do this because they know their choice is wrong and need you to do it to make them feel better, some honestly think what they are doing is fine and think you need to relax, but at the end of the day YOU are the one who needs to write out what you strongly believe in, and YOU are the one who needs to stand by what you believe in.
Only then can you look back on your life and know that you lived with integrity, according to your values.
It is terribly difficult, and I am still on the path to developing my own framework and following through with it, but I am hoping that when I am on my deathbed, I will be able to look back on my life and smile and say I did my best.