Because In The End, You Really Are Alone

Trying to live up to expectation is exhausting. There is an alternative, but it’s not so easy

silhouette of a man walking on the road alone for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by Jeremy Cai on Unsplash

Trying to live up to expectation is exhausting. There is an alternative, but it’s not so easy

There’s no getting away with it. It seems I’m stuck with me — at least for a while.

I could be blindsided by a fully loaded concrete truck or get caught up in a gangland shoot out. I might get depressed and throw myself off a bridge — who knows! In the apparent interim, I’m on my own. Sure, there are other people around me, people I work and live with, people that share my life, and that’s all very interesting. But, in the end, I’ve only got me.

My siblings are off living the intimacy of their own lives and one day my parents will die. My friends may give me the middle finger, my kids will leave, and my wife might run off with someone else. So if the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan and everyone leaves, all I will be left with is me.

All I ever have is me so I’d better get used to it.

Same goes for you.

However, I accept that this concept is a difficult pill to swallow, especially considering how utterly obsessed our society has become with togetherness and inclusion. The focus, it seems to me, is toward the collective and to stand outside the collective is undesirable at best. At worst, it’s downright dangerous.

Yet at the same time, there appears to be the message that to win in this life we must compete with everyone else. Capitalist ideas surround us and permeate most of modern society. Even charitable endeavour, the apparent height of humanity’s recognition of the needs of their fellow human being, has not escaped the clutches of the survival-of-the-fittest ideology.

“On the street and can’t afford a house of your own or good health care? Well fuck you — it’s you’re own fault. Clean yourself up and get a job like the rest us”.

Ok, so you might not say that out loud, and it might not be your particular individual thought, but it underlies the collective mentality.

“Because in the end, you are really alone, whatever you do” — Marina Abramovic, Performance Artist

Regardless of the apparent dichotomy, we try. It the noise and contrast of surface-level life we attempt to find ourselves. We plan and we scheme, we attempt to cajole and trick ourselves, all in a desperate effort to be happy.

Of course, plans are enjoyable to put together, especially if they come off as desired, but they rarely do. I have found that the materialisation of stuff and experience will happen despite our best efforts to the contrary. It will also surprise us in ways that we could never have imagined, so the only option we have is to get into something that we enjoy.

That something must be complex enough to command 99% of our attention; otherwise, we get distracted, and the mind wanders all over the place. When we find work that we can immerse ourselves into, we become lost. Time stands still; there’s no wondering if this is the right thing. There’s no concern for the opinions of others, and there’s no concern for how good or bad we look. There’s just the work.

It’s just you and the work. In fact, it’s reasonable to say that you and the work combine into one thing. Self-identity disappears, and there exists the activity. That’s how it feels for me, anyway.

Perhaps paradoxically, this is the goal of life. Rather than needing to find yourself, you need to lose yourself. Call it what you will; going with the flow, getting in the zone, whatever. The fact is, we can’t know who and what we are without losing the concept that society has aided us to build.

Step away from the crowd and go it alone. Go somewhere it’s quiet and do that thing you enjoy doing. Get lost in it for long periods, because without that space and freedom to get away from yourself, there is only the constant self-inflicted torture of trying to live up to external ideals.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters