There are a few quotes that, over the years, have helped me to crawl out of a pit of depression that I’d wallowed in for nearly a decade. A pit so deep that everytime I’d begun to believe I’d made it out, I’d realize, looking up, that I still had forever remaining, it seemed.
“But what about you? Who do you say that I am?” ~ Yeshua (Jesus Christ) To Simon Peter the Disciple
Simon Peter was often ruled by how others perceived him. Despite being reactionary, loyal, and fierce, part of his Achilles’ Heel was in that he simply wanted to be accepted. It’s fairly obvious, if one believes the story at all, that Yeshua knew this about Peter.
The moment was one of importance. Standing at landmarks of a mythical god, Yeshua was not merely teaching Simon Peter a lesson, He was making an extremely symbolic and important point as to His sovereignty. But even as He was making a point about His own power, Yeshua took a moment to stop Simon from worrying about what anyone else thought and form his own opinion.
“RESPECT YOURSELF. RESPECT YOUR EFFORTS. SELF-RESPECT LEADS TO SELF-DISCIPLINE.” ~ Clint Eastwood
I kept this one on a desktop background for nearly a year, trying to internalize it. The key word in the quote is discipline. The sentiment above is not advising that we just accept all of our ugliness as-is, and ‘love’ ourselves in some vain, backward way. The admonishment is toward bettering ourselves, which we only do when we grow up enough to realize that we are full of ugliness that needs correcting, work on correcting ourselves, and respect each victory we claim, moving past lost battles quickly.
“Don’t rationalize with me.” ~ Ridley Scott
When Scott sets out to make a film, there’s no holding him back. There’s no convincing him otherwise if he knows he’s correct, because Scott, like Eastwood’s above quote, respects himself, his work, and his efforts.
Scott doesn’t simply know his own work, he knows his core audience. Some of his films work as intended, some do not. But his fans, those who know his work, tolerate many flaws because it’s obvious with every film Scott does that he’s a story teller, and the imperfections and flaws are part of the work. It’s a sentiment similar to not allowing perfection to be the enemy of completion. Sometimes, you just keep moving, no matter what.
I’ve always tended to overthink. Thus, I most often use this quote against my own mind. Sometimes, it’s best I don’t try to think at all, and just move with what my gut tells me.
“Absolve you to yourself and and you shall have the suffrage of the world.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you have not read Emerson’s essay, “On Self-Reliance,” I recommend it. Culture has lost the meaning of shame and its importance entirely. On one side, we have the Shamers, those who are addicted to making certain that others adhere to their ridiculous ideals by heaping groupthink guilt onto anyone that begs to differ. On the other side, we’ve the No-Shame At All group, who are fine to put their lardasses and all subsequent ugliness they’ve worked to attain in front of everyone without hesitation.
Both miss the point entirely.
One should feel shame when having done something awful. But all-too often those who are healthy get lost in guilt. Which can tear a soul apart. As important as it is to remain able to feel shame for shameful deeds, it is also important to remember to forgive ourselves. Do our best to walk away from the deeds we were doing, and move on. Wallowing in shame misses the point as entirely as the two groups mentioned above.
“Nod. Smile. Agree. Then go do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.” ~ Robert Downey, Jr.
We live in a culture of comfortable misery. Half of us don’t know how the bills will get paid tomorrow, yet all of us have to tolerate bosses who are both incompetent and as miserable as we are. It’s an agreed-upon lie that we are all supposed to simply smile and be chipper in the midst of daily death by a million papercuts. We’re all pretending that we don’t hate it all, lying to ourselves and each other.
And yet there is something to be said for pushing through with a smile. Especially if one is the sort to not be predisposed to the sociopathic requirements of moving up company ladders. And it all depends on how much peace of mind someone wants.
The Hivemind, which has completely absorbed the modern office, thanks to HR Departments, has no use for those who think differently. Like any half-mad herd of animals, the Hivemind sees people who think for themselves as downright dangerous. Anyone not part of the Hivemind in modern culture must be aware here: his free-ranging thoughts will come out in many ways, such as his work, diligence, and commitment. Thus, anyone not part of the Hivemind needn’t worry about broadcasting anything. He or she is doing so by their presence.
Sometimes it works out better to hide in plain sight. To just allow the Hivemind to talk, to lecture, to report, grade, dumb-down, and move the employees it sees as pawns around. If one isn’t part of the Hivemind, then the quality of the work speaks for itself, and that’s something a person can latch onto as a well of energy. No amount of lecturing can take that. And the Hivemind has nothing but itself, while the person who bypasses it has the advantage of being able to draw from many wells—that person is not fooled by a mesh fence like the herd, so he or she simply ducks and moves on toward freedom.
This is what I draw from Downey’s quote: Hide in plain sight. Smile when you sometimes would rather punch someone, just to confuse everyone. Then go do what you were going to do anyway.
Hide in plain sight.