Honesty, they say, is the best policy.
I’ve been running a lot. There’s something about it that has me mercilessly addicted. It’s insanely difficult. It only gets harder. There’s no point at which running becomes easy. I love that.
With running comes a lot of mental anguish. The sport is all mental. A creative group of dudes recently produced a mini-documentary called “The Runners” in which they caught people in the middle of their jogs and asked them life’s biggest questions. Because of the nature of the interviews, people tended to be much more open, and real, and brutal with the filmmakers. Their answers are desperately raw. On the surface, the short is about running.
More than that, it’s shown me just how obsessed I’ve become with the idea of honesty.
Break everything down.
I look back on the past eight months of my life; from the moment I left my summer camp job last August to the first day of orientation for that same job in May. That gap has been traditionally filled with school. This year was different. I graduated, and had to face the “real world”.
I’ll tell you now: the real world will destroy you.
It destroyed me. It took everything I thought I knew about myself and perverted it. Everything you’ve ever heard about money and work and putting on a tie before sitting in traffic is true. It exists. It’s unbelievable how accurate the movies are. I never thought I’d see the day that I was wishing the hours of my life away.
“Just two more hours until lunch. And then a coffee. And then a few more hours and we’re done.”
The muttering of Death.
This existence is perpetual. It’s psychotic. It’s the antithesis of creativity and self-respect and the epitome of becoming a soulless drone. There are people who live this life every day for 30 years. There’s something insane about it all. It’s like watching the slaughtering of humanity right before your eyes. Except you’re the butcher.
The real world is a series of humans overtaking other humans.
Gather the pieces.
I couldn’t take anymore. My soul was withering. Everything was a dead end.
A life of a young man scattered amongst the floor.
The scary thing about this entire experience was that I wasn’t sad. I know what sadness is. I know what it means to be depressed. I wasn’t sad or depressed. It was something much more alien. A parasite. It’s the feeling of cheating on yourself. It’s the feeling of being exactly between awake and asleep. Like the middle seat of an airplane during ascension. It’s when the other watercolors start to seep into the yellow basin.
I had a series of conversations with myself. When you’re torn down, it’s a bit easier to look in the mirror. There’s a time that comes in which you ask yourself, “what did I do to get here?” “where am I going?” “what is the result of this?”.
Nothing will change until you have this talk with you.
But my favorite question of all of my talks: “Where have I been?”
That changed everything.
I sat down and took it all in. I remembered everything, like a flash of the obvious, about my life. About my core, and who I thought myself to be, and my morality, and my beliefs, and my convictions. I thought about living in Texas. I thought about living in Italy. I thought about being in love in high school. I thought about the ride in the back of the van, when all of us were together.
I then realized just how viciously dishonest I was with myself. I put myself into this conundrum because I compromised everything I’ve ever done with my life. I was taking so much shit. I didn’t deserve it. I thought I did.
And that’s because I wasn’t running. Metaphorically speaking.
The Laws of Motion.
Think about Newton’s Law. Apply it to this life.
Everything in motion must stay in motion unless acted on by another force.
This is everything.
You are going somewhere. You are either actively pursuing a better life or passively existing as time stretches onward. For a while, I was letting go of my life. Of my dreams and my ambitions and my path. I was passive.
I then spoke the magic word.
Say it aloud. Follow that word. Make it count. It carries so much weight. It’s so powerful. It is the force that changes the motion of planets and stars.
You can move mountains.
“Honestly” is the beginning of it all.
I’m kidding me.
When you’re dishonest with yourself, you will fail. Everything becomes an effort. You’re fighting imaginary enemies. Nobody is on your side. They can smell how disgusting you are. You can smell it, too. You cannot fool yourself. That’s the funniest thing about it all: we’re endlessly committed to telling ourselves a bunch of fucking lies. We know better every single time. Every single time.
You can’t keep telling yourself that you like your job. That she’s the one. That you’re happy with your body. That you don’t get sad.
You can’t fucking convince yourself to believe your own bullshit.
I was kidding myself about all of these things. Six months of pretending to be invincible and correct. Six months of childish lies. Even more than that, really. It’s a lifetime of lies. Eventually they all surface, and you have to jump into the boxing ring with the juggernauts of your past. And they’re not happy. They’re vehement because you cravenly turned away.
It’s kinda funny. I actually started to laugh. It’s just so silly. What a circus!
“We can’t even be honest with ourselves.”
But then I realized that that, too, was a lie.
It all changed. I can’t explain it totally. I knew there was something pulling at me, like the brilliant hand of a young woman at a midnight state fair. It started pulling me away from this ugly place of hopelessness.
You kind of snap out of it one day. You’re done with it. You’re ready to stop putting all the effort into fabricating happiness and simply crave the real thing.
Pinocchio eventually becomes top-heavy. He can’t fit through doors.
I started running.
I started running hard and fast.
I started really thinking about it. I set everything into actual motion. Everything became very, very loud. Everything was yelling at me. My ex girlfriend was yelling at me. My body, and the way I thought I looked, started screaming at me. My successes in school kept yelling at me. Just yelling. That’s what it’s like. Every step is the rise of something that you’ve pushed down.
It is undeniable.
By the third run, I was starting every sentence in my head with “where am I going?”.
“Where am I going to run?”
“Honestly, I don’t know.”
“Where am I going to go?”
“Honestly, it’s hard to say.”
“Where am I going to live?”
“Honestly, that’s a good question too.”
“Where am I going to be?”
I like to think that every thought begins as an abstract shape. It’s cluttered and colorful and sharp and exists in three dimensions in your consciousness. And every thought that you begin to conjure passes through the factory of language, and then comes out as a two-dimensional mechanical ensemble of organized idea. But there’s a lot lost in that moving through those gears.
When I run, I don’t have the effort necessary to produce language. It’s all thoughts. A clutter of geometric shapes smashing into one another, spiraling in a chaos of color and light. It happens like lightning. The speed of thought eclipses the wavelength of the universe.
When I run, there’s only word that rises from the revelry of my mind.
That word is the loudest and the brightest of them all.
It is the light that will never go out.
Am I a good runner? No. It doesn’t matter at all, though. I keep getting better, if that’s what you want to know. But it’s not about getting better. It’s not even about running.
I run because I need to. I write because I need to. I create because I can’t sit still. And I share with you because I want to change your mind. Honestly.
I want you to run. Seriously. There’s nothing like it. Everything will occur to you that living is necessary and fighting is empowering. I want you to fight yourself. I want you to be so fucking honest with yourself that when someone asks you about your life, you have no restraint. I want you to stop embarrassing yourself and start owning it. Just own it. Own your stupid flabby stomach and your shitty relationships. And when they ask you, tell them the truth. Just tell them the fucking truth.
I want you to never censor yourself. It’s the sickness of the human condition.
I want these things for you because I want them for me, too. I want you to know that it’s all about asking yourself all the hard questions. I want you to be better, and that’s why I wrote this to you.
I want you to run.