Who Are You When You Take It All Away?

 

I found an intriguing quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s book Fight Club where the main protagonist Tyler Durden said a statement that is true, but frightening to think about:

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

Have you ever thought of something similar? What if we lose everything? All our cherished possessions, all the people in our lives, our job, our hobbies…

Who Are You When Everything is Taken Away?

Most people have lost everything at some point in their lives. ‘Everything’ has a different meaning to everyone. It may be health, wealth, career, relationship, material possessions, reputation, or something else for you. But do all these things define who we are in fundamental ways?

Does our career define our worth? Are you more important if you are a doctor than if you are a janitor? Or if you have a sizeable amount of material things? Does a branded shirt you wear send an accurate message about who you are to the people around you? Does your relationship define whether or not you’re supposed to be loved? If we’re rich and famous, should we be loved more than someone who is not so fortunate?

Fake Life

Sometimes we really lose everything because we pretend to be someone we are not. We’re living a life that is not our own true-life — a fake life to deceive others. But in the attempt to impress the people around us, we lose something more important than our material possessions, our job title, or our fake friends. We lose our dreams, hopes, imagination, and most importantly, we lose ourselves.

In the pursuit of fake life, we lose everything true about ourselves. This may not matter to you, but deep in our hearts, we all know that this is the harsh truth. Truth we are masking with exotic trips, nice cars, expensive clothes, fancy restaurants, etc.

A Look of Reality

Today, try one simple exercise:

Take a deep look at your entire life. But really look. Think about your job, or the school you attend if you’re a student. Why did you choose exactly that one? Look at relationships with the people around you? Are you happy with them? Do they challenge your thinking and make you grow? Are they emotionally stable for both parties?

Then look at all your stuff. All those knick-knacks lying around the house. Are they actually important or they just clutter your space, seeking attention, and depriving you of the ability to focus on more important things? Are they really for you or to impress others?

Once you have absorbed everything, take everything you are or think you are, and everything you own, away from you. You can do this by going to the beach and lying on the hot sand. Or by going to the forest and sitting on the grass. Or go somewhere else where you can be alone. 

Then look at the sky and all the creative shapes clouds are forming. Breathe. Feel the wind on your cheeks. Look at the flowers. They don’t compete with the flower next to them. They simply bloom. Look at the children, if there are any. Or animals. They are not preoccupied with who they are, what they do, or what they own. They all just exist. Day by day. Not burdening their minds with unimportant things and obligations.

Now, look at what is left when you take everything away. All the junk you’ve accumulated during the years, all the labels you’ve put on yourself, all the obligations and people who haven’t contributed to your life. Whatever is left when you get rid of all this is YOU. You are beautiful; you are intelligent; you‘re kind, magnificent human being. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When we strip everything that is not important, we’re left with only people, things, obligations, and feelings that truly add value to our lives. 

Remember:

You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

When you get back to reality, take action. Identify what is important and what is not. Then remove everything that isn’t (I know it’s not easy, but I’m sure you can do it) and start living your authentic life  a life tailored to you. Our time on Earth is limited, so stop wasting it living someone else’s life.

After the removal of all those non-important things from your life, you may realize that actually, you didn’t lose anything.

If you lose your job, your relationships, and all your stuff in a fire today, what would you do? Where would you go? How would you live your life?

Let me know in the comments below. 

 

Cheers!

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