A glimmering bead of sweat winding its way down a furrowed brow. Chris Gardener takes a decisive step into yet another shelter, his brain constantly in motion fully aware of his recent eviction. Today was to be celebrated, a breakthrough - an internship! Unpaid but an opportunity nonetheless - and a chance for Chris and his son to break free from the shackles of poverty.
With no home, no money and a son who is completely dependant upon his protection, it could be assumed that Chris’ life is beyond repair. Yet Chris still stands tall eyes shining with hope. As the problems mount Chris only focuses on the solutions, each step part of an ongoing pursuit of happiness.
The Pursuit of Happiness is an incredible story, the movie depicts our main character (Will Smith) as a broke, single father struggling to put food in his child’s belly. Yet through all the suffering he holds onto his dreams focusing always, on the greater purpose. You may not realise that the Pursuit of Happiness is based on a true story, that Chris Gardener actually exists, that he went on to build his own multi-million dollar brokerage firm.
Chris built his happiness through blood, sweat and tears yet through all that suffering Chris found no meaning to life he simply built a powerful illusion. An illusion which gave him a sense of purpose - to be happy.
For the most part life is suffering, an endless stream of problems without any definitive solution. A century ago we had God, the promise of a Utopian afterlife was meaning enough to struggle through life. Now we have science and earth is the new paradise, who the fuck needs God when you have Netflix and Uber Eats. As we traded in God for online shopping we unwittingly traded in our reason for being. We crave meaning!
If life has no meaning then why the fuck are we still here? What is the point in living a life without any promise of a Utopian afterlife? Why suffer through life at all? What have we got left in this nihilistic world?
The illusion. The illusion is left. The Illusion you choose to build around yourself, your beliefs and the ones you love.
Everything is just Fucked!
Tomorrow you are going to do something completely and utterly outrageous! Tomorrow you are going to go the entire day - all 24 hours - without a single complaint! Yep! Fucking crazy right?!
You are going to wake up and your first words will be - repeat after me - ‘Thank You!’ You may consider responding as follows:
‘Umm… OK? Who the fuck am I saying thank you to?’
Great question Jerry! You are saying thank you to yourself, to the universe, to every single atom that forms your insignificant lump of man flesh.
‘Ok.. A bit offended by the words ‘lump of man flesh’ but what’s next?’
Grab a Pen Jerry - Apologies if your name isn’t Jerry, actually who gives a fuck! Jerry is just a metaphor for you, so let’s change it up and go with Sam! Yeah… Sam works regardless of your identity. Right… back to it then…
You actually don’t need a pen, but for some of you writing down everything you are grateful for adds emphasis. So, what are you grateful for today? A bed, oxygen and undies are a good start.
We are living in the greatest era of human history yet we are more disconnected with gratitude and hope than ever before. From the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep the world bombards us with problems. Everything seems so fucked! Even our dreams are plagued by nightmares of a world destroyed by global warming.
So what is left to do but complain? How can we ever hope to fix all these problems? Why is everything just constantly so fucked!? The answer is far simpler than you might think. Everything is fucked because we will it to be so! We make the decision to spend our days listing out the problems with life, we choose to dwell on our - now meaningless - lifetime of suffering. Ever since Nietzsche strolled down the metaphorical mountain to proclaim to the world; ‘God is Dead!’ We have struggled with our new meaning in life, or lack thereof. Without God, what is the point of it all?
Our continued efforts to figure out our why only brings us closer to despair. We built a world that serves as heaven and in doing so we eliminated the hope of paradise. We discovered science - thus far our greatest achievement - but in doing so we eliminated the hope of an Omnipotent God. Everything is so fucked because we can’t seem to grasp the reason for all of this - What is all this suffering for if there is no promise of an afterlife filled with unicorns, rainbows, supermodels, Magic Mike and free Netflix!
So, if it is the question that perplexes us so much, why not answer it with the uncomfortable truth?
The Uncomfortable Truth
What if you made the conscious decision to accept the uncomfortable truth? What if I told you that you were right? That God died a long time ago. That science is the new religion. That there really is no explanation for your existence. Would you cry? Would you feel a rush of agony and despair? Probably! It’s a pretty fucking depressing reality to accept but if you want to build your own meaning, step one is to accept the uncomfortable truth.
If you choose not to accept that life has no meaning, I applaud you and harbour no dismissive feelings toward you. In-fact, I encourage you to share your opinions and I implore you to stay true to your thoughts and feelings. After all, this is your life and your illusion. I will not pretend to be right or wrong, I simply wish to present a solution to your despair.
So without God, in a world devoid of hope and smothered by fear, how do we garner the energy to fight back? How do we live purposefully? How the fuck do we find our own version of Happiness? Does the road to happiness look as difficult for you as it did for Chris Gardner? Does the constant stream of depressing media leave you wondering why you even bother to get out of bed? Maybe junkies have it right! Maybe a muted version of life is all we have to hope for!
I have another option you may wish to consider first.
Step One - Pull your head out of your privileged arse!
Step Two - Work your face off and build your own damn purpose!
It’s time to create your very own illusion boys, girls and everyone in-between!
How are you feeling friend? This blog isn’t an easy pill to swallow, is it? Exposing yourself to your deepest truths is like slapping a wet fish across your face. No I’m not referring to the goldfish in your tank, exposing your hidden truths feels more like a humpback whale landing on your face. Have you seen the video of that kayaker getting obliterated by a whale? Yep, that’s you at this very moment - No Sam! You are not the Whale!
Uncomfortable truths are seldom an easy topic to discuss. Yet, when we expose our truths we open doorways we were previously unaware of. The energy once spent hiding our beliefs, our fears and our emotions can now be used to construct a new ‘God’ - an illusion of your choosing. An illusion so powerful, so real and so meaningful it has the ability to set you on fire. A purpose that can once again give meaning to your life.
You may consider yourself nihilistic, I urge you to reconsider. What do you believe in? You might think your a smart arse now and answer, “Nothing… hence I’m nihilistic Jacques, you dumbass!” Ok. I hear you. Friend - let’s call you Sam again - do you spend your money online with privately owned companies? If your answer is yes, then you believe in the collective illusion we call capitalism.
So why not live in solitude? Surely you could be free of belief alone in your little bush home? But you still believe in something, solitude is your answer, your purpose and your God. I could waste the next five minutes of your life listing out potential modern day religions/beliefs or you could just go ahead and agree with me. Even if you consider yourself a nihilist you are still creating meaning in your life through a belief in a meaningless existence. Hence, you believe in something!
So why not create your own faith? Why not embrace that uncomfortable truth and build a life around your own beliefs? Why not create your own version of ‘God.’ Sam! If your name really is Sam…It is time to begin your own pursuit of happiness.
Just as Chris Gardner did, you will face many challenges. Setbacks will plague your life and there will be times when the suffering is almost unbearable. The one thing that will help you take that next step is the illusion - Your Purpose. It is time to pursue your own version of happiness!
It is time to play God in your own life! It is time to find your ‘Meaning to Life.’
What Helped Me
As the nuclear arms race heated up in 1981, it became clear that nuclear protocols needed to be safeguarded against negligence. Roger Fisher, an ex crew-member aboard B-17 bombers in WWII who would go on to advise NATO military officers on strategic decision-making, was no stranger to war - but he feared leaders who seemed ignorant to the true costs of war.
Fisher made an early suggestion to combat what he called ‘distancing.’ If a president was to order a nuclear strike the action itself would be relatively easy with no immediate accountability. Fisher suggested the following;
”My suggestion was quite simple: Put that needed code number in a little capsule, and then implant that capsule right next to the heart of a volunteer. The volunteer would carry with him a big, heavy butcher knife as he accompanied the President. If ever the President wanted to fire nuclear weapons, the only way he could do so would be for him first, with his own hands, to kill one human being. The President says, “George, I’m sorry but tens of millions must die.” He has to look at someone and realise what death is—what an innocent death is. Blood on the White House carpet. It’s reality brought home.”
When Fisher suggested the idea to colleagues they seemed horrified,
“My God, that’s terrible. Having to kill someone would distort the President’s judgement. He might never push the button.”
Exactly. What Fisher suggested was complete accountability. If you want to build something, create your own version of meaning or simply find happiness like Chris Gardner did. You must be completely accountable for your actions, your failures and your solutions.
Own up to all your Truths
Roughly a year ago I decided to stop fucking around with my life! I decided that I was no longer content with hiding my failings from the world - I was done giving a fuck about what others thought of me. So, I shared everything! Yeah… I did consider killing myself a year ago. I cheated on my ex-girlfriend more times than I can count. I battled with depression for years. I was (and still kind of am) broke. I had failed every major business undertaking in my twenties. I had lied. I had cheated… Need any more examples of my truths Sam?
In doing so I experienced a strange side effect I felt unburdened, by unloading my emotional baggage I was once again filled with an energy. For the first time in nearly a decade I wanted to find meaning! I wanted to find purpose! I wanted to build an illusion that worked for me!
Search Until You Find that Fire
Finding purpose is no easy feat. My best advice is to get out of that little shell of yours and try some of the shit that occupies your dreams at night. If you dream of travel buy a ticket overseas. If reading is something that gets you hard then try writing your own blog. If you have always wanted to learn a new language then book a course. If solving climate change is high on your agenda then join an organisation and pledge three months of your life to their cause.
Many of your potential purposes will fail to light a fire in your belly, but I guarantee one will and when that fire ignites you better be ready with a giant pile of fucking wood!
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