Welcome to the YouTopian Journey. Each week I will be sharing unique wisdom as well as a more in-depth overview of the artwork that is featured on the Instagram @youtopianjourney. This week we discuss that Hell is other people.
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“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”-William Shakespeare, The Tempest
What are you working on?
Yes, you are attempting to have an endless summer to make up for lost time. Yes, you are able to travel more freely. Yes, you may be at the beach or the lake or even just on the couch, relaxing.
But what are you working on?
Each and every one of us has some work to do, some inner tasks that must be strived for.
I don’t mean some time sensitive project that is due at the office or some school assignment that needs to be turned in by a certain deadline. But something meaningful. Something that elevates you, that challenges you, that stirs you to action. Something truly important to you.
What is it?
This could be the novel you always dreamed of writing.
The song you always fantasized about playing.
The company you have always desired to launch.
The career pivot that you have been waiting to attempt.
Whatever it is that we may desire, a prerequisite must be fulfilled, one that the majority often miss.
It isn’t supplies.
It isn’t funding.
It isn’t a catchy name or a cool logo.
It is the shoring up of your inner defenses, the air castle that you must build with your own hands. The digging of mental trenches. The future proofing of your mind. You must be prepared for the assault that lies ahead.
Because there is only you.
And if you think your idea, your magnum opus, your dream, is going to be universally accepted upon launch, you will be very surprised.
The masses do not thirst for new ideas. Society thirsts for the next hit of dopamine. They want memes and tweets and distractions. They want hope wrapped in the cloak of clickbait. They want infinite vacation, endless summer, and unlimited refills. They will not accept you or your new order of things that may change them for the better.
Their attention is already consumed by something far more important and insidious.
The drama of strangers, the mindless menagerie of meaningless content, the pull of the device. Your battle is against these colossal and epic forces.
And you must fight it.
You must fight against a culture that is massively mechanized, whose attention span is short and held captive by the screen.
You must fight against a culture of the narcissistic and materialistic who does not care for anything other than themselves.
You must fight against the destruction of attention that our world calls social media, the winnowing away of the imagination that our world calls binging, and the annihilation of free time that our world calls hustling.
Because it is getting worse.
“Something has crept into our mechanized system of communication that has made our modes of thinking deteriorate. People too casually acquire ideas and concepts. They no longer struggle for a clear understanding. The popularized picture replaces the battle of the pros and cons of concepts. Instead of aiming at true understanding, people listen to thoughtless repetition, which gives them the delusion of understanding.”-Dr. Joost A. M Meerloo, The Rape of the Mind
People do not care for you or your idea, even if it could offer them the greatest benefit of their lives. Instead, they prefer the offerings of the virtual world. They cling to their devices as if it were their salvation. They talk in hashtags with others, as if the hashtag gives them some sort of superpower. They belittle what takes genuine effort in a fraction of a second, scrolling down for that next hit of dopamine. And they ignore what is right in front of their face, preferring the safety of the screen.
And YOU are in front of their face.
Your grand idea.
Your inner dream.
You are at the mercy of others, who will not be accepting or receptive. This alone is a hard burden to bear.
But you must bear it.
Despite what you know and what you can offer. Despite what is in your power to truly change and perhaps even benefit others. Despite having so much talent and promise. You must bear the inevitable responses of the masses, who care nothing for you or your dreams.
“Of all men’s miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing.”-Herodotus
I have written this before and it is worth repeating again. No one wants to be the first subscriber, follower, investor, customer, or supporter of something new. There is a myriad of other concepts, companies, newsletters, APPs, etc. that are established. People will not come to your aid. Instead, they will belittle, criticize, doubt, and ignore whatever you are offering.
“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."- Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
After all, their attention is somewhere else. Their hearts are not with you. Their minds are drawn to the evaluation of others and comparison of themselves to these other people who they will never meet and who have no stake in their lives.
What can we do?
Know that our unique road is one that is flanked by difficulties. Our path is besieged by the threats of conformity and submission. Our journey is one that is not simple nor fast. This alone stops the multitude from walking it.
But not you.
You have places to go.
You have dreams to make a reality.
You have goals to achieve.
No matter who stands in your way. No matter how difficult people may be.
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly." -Albert Einstein
IT IS NOT CIRCUMSTANCES BUT PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFICULT
"The more stupid and mediocre the masses, the more mercilessly do they persecute those who are simple enough to strive to mitigate their mediocrity and stupidity"-Charles Richet, The Follies of Mankind
Circumstances can be overcome.
Circumstances can be outmaneuvered.
Circumstances can be altered.
Circumstances can be malleable, especially if one is dream driven.
People are far more difficult to deal with.
And it is only becoming worse.
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm [that they cause] does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”-TS Eliot
One of the greatest dangers of a mindset shift is how our newfound outlook, new venture, new creative endeavor, will be received by others. While there may be some initial supporters, the vast majority won’t welcome you with opened arms and celebrations. People seek routine and flee from the unknown, the unexpected, and the unintelligible. This is perilous for the one who desires to change their thinking and their life for the better.
You must realize that people will always be the true obstacle. They will be there along every step of your journey. They will ignore you. They will criticize you. They will scorn you. And when you hit some measure of success, some level of happiness that you have worked so hard for, they will envy you. They will hide daggers behind smiles and hatred beneath compliments.
There is no escape from them.
Even during the height of the pandemic isolation, people flooded social media to spread conspiracy theories and falsehoods. Drama continued, energy was sapped, and attention lost. And yet we depend on people. That is how our societies are built and civilizations function.
But with the further mechanization of the mind, the pursuit of pleasures instead of passion, and a world that is growing both smaller but more distracted, the YouTopian Journey is becoming more and more difficult.
Yet that should not stop you from making it.
Understand that you do have a role in this world something that is distinctly meant for you. It is a role that you were born to play, a role that only you can fill. You are cultivating this role with every action that you take. Do not exchange it for a minor part in someone else’s play. Do not conform to their directions and desires. Do not submit to criticism. This is your play, in your life. Do not close the curtains simply because it is convenient, because you have been offered a lesser role by a lesser individual.
You must never conform and give in, thereby giving up the unique path you are creating for yourself. A self-chosen path is lonely but rewarding. Schopenhauer was correct when he wrote that: “We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.” That three-fourths are what make up the best parts of ourselves, something that should be defended with all your energy and might, not simply given up to please others. We are miserly with our possessions and our money, but when it comes to our self, we gladly give. We don’t even bother to put up a defense, instead we dull our light in order to be safely welcomed, and with open arms. Do not make this trade. It is never worth it and the price is always too high to pay.
“Hell Is Other People”-Jean Paul Sartre, No Exit.
THE ANSWER? WORK IN SOLITUDE
“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.”-Rollo May
No one wants to be alone.
The pandemic was all the proof we needed that people cannot exist in a state of loneliness, that man is a social creature. People need to be among one another to function. Yet paradoxically, it is among people where dreams die and conformity reigns supreme.
What must we do? What is the answer to the Hell that is other people?
No, not alone. But by existing in a state of solitude where our work can be completed and are dreams can be given wings to take flight.
But, aren’t loneliness and solitude the same thing?
Not at all.
“Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.”-Paul Tillich
Solitude, the glory of being alone! Solitude from the automaton masses who stifle your creativity, who make you doubt yourself. Solitude from the office drudgery that has been dulling your purpose into a dark crevice of your mind. Solitude from the constant drama that brings nothing to your life. Solitude from the television shows that scream at you to binge them. Solitude from the people that belittle your every move. Solitude from a society that stifles the best parts of yourself.
“On the black road of life think not to find
Either a friend or lover to your mind;
If you must love, oh then, love solitude,
For solitude alone is true and kind”
-Zummurud & Ali-Shar, One Thousand and One Nights
Solitude is a rare treat for the individual who understands the power and advantages it conveys. However, one must be able to handle it. It is not for the faint of heart or the vain. It is not for one who isn’t true to themselves. Solitude is reality, and many people flee from this reality, preferring to be cogs in the machine of illusion. It is a retreat into the self, where magic can happen. But one must truly seek that wonder. They must truly want it. Through solitude, you can harness this inner magic and bring wondrous things to life! One does not need to be among the masses for success to come about, one needs to be among their true self. And it begins right now!
This is your time.
This very moment.
Set to work on your task. There is no need to feel any shame taking baby steps. In solitude, there is room for mistakes. In solitude there is room for experimentation. In solitude, there is no comparing yourself with others. In solitude there is anonymity, and in anonymity, great things can happen.
But you must be open to it. You must not fear solitude or isolation. You must be able to accept the environment of solitude and retreat into it from time to time. It will be difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.
“Freedom is the possibility of isolation. You are free if you can withdraw from people, not having to seek them out for the sake of money, company, love, glory or curiosity, none of which can thrive in silence and solitude. If you can't live alone, you were born a slave. You may have all the splendours of the mind and the soul, in which case you're a noble slave, or an intelligent servant, but you're not free. And you can't hold this up as your own tragedy, for your birth is a tragedy of Fate alone. Hapless you are, however, if life itself so oppresses you that you're forced to become a slave. Hapless you are if, having been born free, with the capacity to be isolated and self-sufficient, poverty should force you to live with others.”-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Once you are able to understand the benefits of solitude, once you can see the positive effects that it can have on not only your work, but your life, you will no longer feel the pull of the herd. You will be able to exist above the pettiness and drama of the crowd and make your own heaven in the Hell that is other people.
“Travel and tell no one, live a true love story and tell no one, live happily and tell no one, people ruin beautiful things.”-Kahlil Gibran
“Luctor et Emergo”-I struggle and overcome.
SERIES ZED: The Dark Side of Funding
In the next episode of Founder Fortitude, Sandra Golbreich, myself, and special guest Erik Bhullar delve into the dark side of raising funding for your startup. With millions of founders around the world desperate for investors, this episode shows the difference between good money and bad money, as well as the mental consequences that few founders want to discuss.
It is free and I encourage everyone to attend and participate, regardless if you are an entrepreneur or not. I will be taking questions throughout the talk and look forward to interacting with all of you. Space is limited so please register here.
CRAMP YOUR CRANIUM
I truly believe that the best advantage one can have in this world is to be armed with knowledge. The SneakyArt Post is a newsletter about art of everyday life, on ordinary days, in ordinary places. Nishant Jain walks the streets of his city marking his observations with a fountain pen inside a little sketchbook.
Every week, he shares his art and reflections from his journey of self-education to be an artist. You can subscribe here.
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I’m Shaun Gold and if you are reading this, you are already on your journey. Catch you next week.