Reflect! You Bastard!

Photo by A. Bauer

Only in talking about the heavy things can we work through them. I’ve observed a near total aversion in some cases to talking about the heaviest parts of our lives. By “heavy,” I of course mean emotionally weighty and significant. We’re not talking about dropping your snow cone, although I certainly did that as an adult and had a bizarre meltdown, no pun intended. No, these heavy moments and concepts are the ones that underlie our daily struggles and add lines to our faces. 

But in years past, these heavy things were so often swept under the rug. It was always easier to pretend these things didn’t happen than to address them. After all, addressing such raw human emotions really can harsh a person’s mellow. But the heavy things are what give us character, they’re what teach us the hard lessons. We must talk about personal growth, overcoming adversity, and abysmal failures. We all do things and experience periods of sadness and regret. We need to talk about them, we need to reflect.

This obsession with appearing strong has got to be put to rest once and for all. The notion that a person is deemed strong if they ignore their problems and push through is antiquated. Everyone needs to “push through” lest they die. It’s not an accomplishment to avoid reflecting upon yourself, it’s not an accomplishment to stay the way you’ve always been with no consideration of whether or not you’re wrong. This emotionally stunted way of living no longer holds any value in an evolving world such as ours. It’s time you reflected.

Am I an asshole? Am I wrong? Did I hurt that person? Am I seeing the full picture? It’s so easy to ignore these questions and feed yourself empty platitudes about how you’re doing great and how all that matters is your happiness. Yes, your happiness matters, but at what cost? Have you ever reflected to consider if your achieving happiness is hurting anyone else? It’s easy to make declarations like, “I’m happy, and that’s what matters,” or, “this isn’t really a good or bad situation.” But, statements such as these are self-serving. They aim to almost exclusively reassure you that you’re in the right, as always. Wow, you think you’re doing the right thing, what a surprise. You might be wrong, you might be an asshole. If your only metric is your own happiness, you’ve got quite a bit of work to do. 

The great reflecting that I’m talking about is essentially a massive scale admission that we’re all fucked up. Every one of us is a total fuck-up, and that’s OK as long as we don’t pretend we’re not. We’ve all had moments of great sadness that we tuck away to pretend we’re strong. But we don’t need to pretend, we don’t need to ignore these things. By our having lived through them, we’ve proved our strength. Really, there’s nothing to prove. But we need to realize that when everyone is putting on a brave face, no one is talking about the reason why we have to do so.

We need to talk about the heavy things. Despair is common, we all go there. We hope everyone has the capacity for regret. But most importantly, we hope everyone has the capacity to reflect upon their misdeeds, errors, and various failures – not everyone can see the error of their ways, and those people need more help than the rest of us. The point it this: we need to be much more open with our experiences and less ashamed. Only in talking through all of the raw stuff of human existence can we push through and have a more understanding world to live in. Maybe at your core you fear losing friends or being alone, maybe you fear losing relevance or getting older, maybe you’re just plain old insecure. But once you surrender to the fact that we’re all totally fucked up, the world becomes a little easier to deal with; but we need to talk about these things. We’ve got nothing to hide but our humanity. 

Reflect! You Bastard!

Published by Christopher Goodlof

Writer, Visual Artist, Musician

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