By Gary Z McGee | Self-inflicted Philosophy
Tired of living on dead patterns? Drowning in a hand-me-down value system that simply doesn’t work for these quickly changing times? Comfort zone so tiny that it’s become a bleak zone? Life passing you by with a whoosh?
Then it’s time to jumpstart the idle engine of your existence. It’s time to defibrillate the dead body of your soul. It’s time to shock the system. Here are seven inexhaustible (please make up more) ways to jumpstart a dead life…
Rattle Some Cages
“I cast my net into the poet’s sea hoping to catch a fine fish; but I always drew out an old god’s head.” – Nietzsche
First things first: you must admit that your life is dead. It’s stuck in a rut. It’s stagnant and stale. It’s lacking novelty and challenge, fierceness and courage, creativity and meaning.
It’s just sitting there like a lump on a log. Like a cog in a clock. Like a prisoner in a cage. Like a nine-to-five debt slave. It reeks to high hell of comfort, safety, and certainty, and it’s beginning to collect flies.
After you finally stop hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock that is your life, you may be ready to take the next step and rattle some cages. Admitting your life is dead isn’t enough. You need action. Scary action. Action that jostles your worldview, that knocks you off the pedestal of your contentment, that melts down the golden idol of your comfort, that tosses a monkey wrench into the machinery of your safety and security.
In short: you need some shock value. Rattling cages, especially your own, will create the shock value you need to make your dead life come alive.
Allow yourself to be creative. Mix it up. Become a Jester Guru and laugh your way out of self-seriousness and into Zen. Become a Trickster God and trick your outdated self into updating itself. Use monkey shines to play your way into a heightened state of awareness. Or keep it simple and use the power of solitude and meditation to flip the script.
Using these tactics will rattle your cages right open. And you’ll come alive when you walk free from the cage and realize that it was only ever an illusion.
Engage In An Unapologetic Assault On Boredom
“I’ve often lost myself in order to find the burn that keeps everything awake.” – Lorca
Understand: Boredom is passive aggressive bullshit. If, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living,” then the “getting ready to live” part is boredom and the actual “living” part is becoming curious about what makes you come alive.
Curiosity is the key to breaking down the walls of boredom you have passive aggressively erected around your fear. It’s the root of a charged life, a well-lived life.
Curiosity creates imagination. Imagination creates a spark. This spark creates passion, desire, an inner fire. This fire leads to action, which burns up boredom like kindling so the Phoenix of your unlived life can rise out of the ashes.
Boredom is a self-induced roadblock. It’s a mediocre distraction; a hollow withdrawal into the ordinary for fear of the extraordinary. Boredom is for the living-dead, not for the living. So, no more excuses. Challenge yourself to live a more vibrant, strategic, and engaging life. Rebirth yourself with deep curiosity.
Meditate On Impermanence
“Impermanence is more than an idea. It is a practice to help us touch reality.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The best way to meditate on impermanence is in solitude, away from the things of man. Because it’s only in solitude where you realize that you are never truly alone. Solitude teaches us how everything is connected to everything else. Impermanence teaches us how nothing remains the same. Together they teach humility by connecting us to the deep interdependent dance of the cosmos.
Impermanence doesn’t let you off the hook. Indeed. “The hook” is Reality (capital-R Reality). It drags you kicking and screaming into the profound realization that you are not merely a speck in the universe, you are the entire universe in a speck. Sure, it’s all so terribly fleeting. Nothing lasts. Nothing is permanent. You will die…
But not yet. Unless you continue choosing to live a dead life. Meditating on impermanence puts it all into proper perspective.
But it will also break your heart. And that’s okay. It probably needed to break anyway. Just chock it up to shock value art. Everything is transient. Everything is fleeting. On a long enough timeline, reality is ephemerality. Meditating on impermanence will teach you humility, which will teach you humour, which will teach you honour and how to honour the flash-in-the-pan impermanence of your life.
Discover The Hidden Wholeness of A Broken Heart
“Wholeness is the goal, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. It’s a truth that can set us free to live well, to love well, and to die well.” – Parker J. Palmer
Here’s the terrible beauty of living a full life: if you’re doing it right, your heart is never-not-broken.
Within the comfort zone of your dead life, your heart can’t be broken. Everything is in place to prevent your heart from ever breaking. In such a state, your comfort zone is so tiny that its nothing more than thin armour around your fragile, unbroken, yet ironically insecure heart. It’s faux invulnerability protecting a co-dependent, sparkles, adventure-less, dead life.
As Mark Twain said, “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
Meanwhile, outside, there is a challenging, risky, dangerous world that will shatter your heart into a million little pieces. In order to become whole, to become stronger, to become more resilient, you must gain the ability to put your heart back together again after it has been broken.
Living life to the fullest, living your best life, implies risk. It requires challenge. And challenge can be perilous. When you challenge yourself, you risk dangerous pitfalls that could shatter your tiny world. Failure is a high probability; a broken heart is even higher. Yet that’s the price of adventure, of getting out there, of going all in and letting the chips fall where they may. But it doesn’t mean you cannot be strategic about it.
When it comes down to it, not gambling on having your heart broken is riskier than gambling on your heart being broken. Indeed. Pain should not be avoided at the expense of love; love should be embraced at the risk of pain. Worst case scenario, you gain the humbling yet empowering experience of putting your heart back together again.
Break The Fourth Wall
“It’s tragic how few people ever possess their souls before they die. Nothing is more rare in any man, than an act of his own. It is quite true. Most people are other people.” – Oscar Wilde
The fourth wall is an imaginary wall that keeps stage performers from recognizing or directly addressing their audience. On the narrow stage of your half-lived, mostly dead life, your audience is the Great Mystery, the Infinite Cosmos, the Dancing Nothing, the spiritual (not religious), everything-is-connected-to-everything-else, God.
Breaking the fourth wall is a way of penetrating both illusion and delusion and touching reality.
You can do this through mindfulness meditation, fasting, or using entheogenic medicines to break down the wall. You can achieve a “breakthrough” through creative flow states.
Either way, breaking the fourth wall is a powerful way to jumpstart your dead life because it breaks routine. It burns down the picturesque scene of comfort, safety, and certainty. It forces you to face the outer-reaches of inner-space. Where you are free to question your dead life with a bird’s-eye-view wisdom, an outside-delusion-looking-in heightened perspective. Where you are able to slip the bonds of your limited and limiting beliefs and soar magnificently above the decaying body of your life.
Breaking the fourth wall is using imagination to strategically empower you to create a reality where your dead life is resuscitated; a reality where you’re able to pull magic elixir from the mighty fountainhead of the Great Mystery and use it to nurse yourself back to a more vital, dynamic, and engaging life.
Be Fierce; BeLove
“Someday, after mastering winds, waves, tides, and gravity, we shall harness the energy of love; and for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
True love is fire. It burns with a radiance that lights all beacons. Chances are, if you’re living a dead life, you have chosen to be a moth instead. Moths are attracted to fire, just as fire is attracted to fire. The difference is that the moth is controlled by its attraction and gets burned. Fire, on the other hand, has control over its attraction. It chooses to burn. Fire plus fire makes greater fire. Moth plus fire just makes ashes.
Moth is a metaphor for insecure co-dependence. Fire is a metaphor for fierce independence. Greater fire is a metaphor for interconnected interdependence.
If you want to jumpstart your dead life, stop being a goddamned moth. Be fire instead. Be love. Be fierce in your passion for life. Moths will be moths. Let the them burn. There’s life to be lived. There’s love to be had.
The Greeks have five words for the concept of love: Eros, sexual love; Storge, familial love; Phileo, friendly love; Xenia, hospitable love; and Agape, divine love. Being love is agape love. It transcends all other forms of love. When you are being love, you are in love with being alive. You’re in love with all of life—good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, tragic or comic.
Being love is unselfish, unconditional love for all things. It leaves you in a state of wonder and awe, soul-hungry for more beauty, more mystery, more life. When we are practicing agape love, we are practicing sacred presence. And it’s almost impossible to be “dead” in the ecstatic throes of sacred presence.
Learn How To Die Well
“Death twitches my ear. ‘Live,’ he says, ‘I am coming.’” – Virgil
The only thing that makes you come alive more than love is death itself.
Contemplating death pierces the veil between mortality and eternity. It teaches you to either get busy living or get busy dying. It teaches you that the impermanence of all things is a personal journey. Death is a journey we are all on. As with all journeys, the journey is the thing. Or at least it should be.
Learning how to die well is learning how to live well. It’s reciprocal. We are all dying, but we have a choice about how well we die. If you are living your life to the fullest, then you are already dying well. If you are living a dead life, then you are dying poorly. Death twitches all of our ears. The question is: are you listening?”
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.