They say “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all “
They say “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans “
They say “YOLO “
They say a lot of crap, which most of us tend to ignore. We don’t ignore them because we think these sentiments are untrue; we ignore them to avoid having to punch every annoying, self righteous mouth these platitudes come out of. In my experience, people who live their lives by “quotes” and “sayings” (some even going as far as to getting them tattooed) are often people who are under the impression that life is simple enough to be captured inside a single thought or idea. They use these ideas almost as a mantra to help them navigate and make sense of the chaos that surrounds them. Trust me, I should know; I am one of these, annoying, self righteous a**holes.
Well, I should clarify, I haven’t gone as far as to get a #YOLO tattoo just yet, but I’ve been deluded in my youth to think that the answers to life’s big questions may lay hidden inside a passage of some book, a scene in a movie, a verse of a song or that perfect philosophical concept I just haven’t come across yet. And even though I found a lot of inspiration during my search for the ultimate answer, none of what I found ever felt satisfactory. There was nothing wrong with the answers themselves, what I lacked was the experience to appreciate the wisdom behind the answers. The answers to our questions are hidden in plain sight but if we haven’t cleansed our doors of perceptionall we see around us is hazy at best, but once those proverbial doors are cleansed, we can indeed see the infinite and find meaning in almost anything. Yes, even in YOLO*.
A Man with a Key - Think of it like this. Let’s say one day you are walking down the street and you happen to come across a man who hands you a key. No explanation, just a key and then he simply walks on by. What are you most likely to do in that instance? Are you going to carry that key around with you and try it on every door you find and see if it fits? Unlikely. Now imagine yourself locked in a building, hundreds of doors that lead to freedom yet all of them locked; now the same man shows up and hands you a key. You no longer see him as a madman, but as your saviour. The only thing that has changed is that now you have a use for what he has to offer whereas before you didn’t. I can say with almost absolute certainty that the best piece of advice you’ll ever receive in your life has already been given to you. You just didn’t know what to do with it at the time. Just like a key is useless unless you have a need for one to unlock a door, an advice or idea is worthless unless you have a need to apply it in your life.
You’ll be offered many such “keys” by almost everyone you meet in your life. You don’t have to use them all. Chances are most will be to doors you’ve already opened and others to doors you have no interest in. Some might be to doors you’re in search for. And then there will be doors you don’t even know exist yet. An exciting and unfamiliar playground offering a whole new way of looking at things you haven’t even considered yet. And maybe, one day, when you walk through one of those doors you’ll find that answer which has been eluding all this time.
What I lacked through my years in search for the right answers was the wisdom to know what to do with the answers once I found it. And that wisdom unfortunately only came to me after a couple of years of struggle, failure and uncertainty. Looking back now I’ve learned to be appreciative and even be grateful of those turbulent times, as it was then I discovered how many “keys” I had unknowingly been collecting all my life, and in those times of need, when I was looking for a way out of maze I found myself lost in, I started opening those doors and found some of what I was looking for. The main lesson I took away during this realisation was to not judge the key. The door it opens might not be meant for me, but its exactly what someone, somewhere is looking for right now.
*“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967