By Gary Z McGee
“Stop drifting—sprint to the finish. Write off your hopes, and if your well-being matters to you, be your own savior while you can.” ~Marcus Aurelius
In a world on fire, it’s on you to be water. It’s on you to put out the flames. It’s on you to become the savior you’ve been waiting for. Idleness makes you mere kindling; boldness makes you a force of nature to contend with.
If, as Steve Jobs advised, “remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” then it stands to reason that you use death as a guide for redeeming your life.
Because you are going to die. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But someday you will be pushing up daisies along with every other human being who has ever existed.
The question is: will it be death by boredom and banality pining for a savior, or death by passion and curiosity becoming your own savior?
You have from this day until the day you die to live the life you want to live. You might as well make it a healthy life. You might as well make it a heroic life.
You had an eternity before you existed to do nothing. You’ll have an eternity after you exist to do nothing. Now is your time to actually do something, to find something you love to do and then use it to save your life.
Place the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others:
“Once you fall in love with yourself, their game is over.” ~Alamir Guard
Focus on you until the focus is on you, then focus on the world.
The best way to do this is to imagine your life as a crashing plane. In the crashing plane that is your life, you must be capable of putting the oxygen mask (health) on yourself before assisting others. Once you have your mask set right, you can begin attempting to set the world right.
If you attempt to set the world right without your oxygen mask on, you risk not being able to help because you can’t function. You risk ill-health and incompetence. You risk death before your time.
With your oxygen mask secure, however, you will have the health and confidence needed to engage the world with strength and vitality. You will be a force to be reckoned with. Such a force can bring balance to an otherwise imbalanced world. Such a force can even prevent the plane from crashing before its time.
Seen in this light, you can see how there is a virtue in selfishness. For it is selfishness with good intent. The selfishness of putting the oxygen mask on yourself leads to the selflessness of helping others do the same.
Pride up; ego down. Confidence up; conceit down. Chin up; foot down. Self-esteem leads to prestige when you use it toward the wellbeing of others and to ground the world in health.
Be counteractive with answers and proactive with questions:
“Be a free thinker and don’t accept everything you hear as truth. Be critical and evaluate what you believe in.” ~Aristotle
Sometimes saving yourself means freeing yourself from what has been preventing you from flourishing. Often what prevents you from flourishing is not so obvious. It can be as simple as an outdated law or as complex as a limited worldview. Paradoxically, the only way to know for sure of what’s preventing you from flourishing is to not be sure.
Ironically, when you’re not sure of anything, you free yourself to be sure of what’s possible and what’s not. This is because when you sacrifice certainty, you resurrect curiosity. You get out in front of what you think you know so that what you don’t know can at least potentially become knowable.
This requires a questioning disposition. It requires the ability to face an “answer” with credulity and circumspection; to, as Aristotle suggested, “entertain a thought without accepting it.” It requires the fortitude to cut through orthodoxy with an unorthodox sword.
In the spirit of becoming your own savior, there is perhaps nothing more powerful than questioning the answers that came before you. Nothing is more powerful than an unorthodox question mark planted over an orthodox period.
The questioner is the redeemer. For what must be redeemed is the Truth Quest itself, and it is redeemed from the trap of the so-called “truth.”
In a world full of toxic positivity be authentic chaos:
“In each one of you there is a call, a will, an impulse of nature, an impulse toward the future, the new, the higher. Let it mature, let it resound, nurture it! Your future, your hard dangerous path is this: to mature and to find God in yourselves.” ~Hermann Hesse
What does it mean to be authentic chaos in a world full of toxic positivity? It means recognizing when comfort has become a prison and acting in such a way that you break free and stretch your comfort zone. It means recognizing when a lifejacket has become a limitation to swimming. It means casting security aside so that courage can be self-actualized. It means realizing that there’s more happiness in a spoonful of hard-earned self-improvement than in an ocean-full of easy self-affirmation.
Authentic chaos is introducing a little strategic disorder into the current order to alchemize a higher order. It’s controlled anarchy like the native American concept of counting coup. It’s the personification of a social leveling mechanism that levels the playing field of all finite games while introducing the higher perspective of the Infinite Game of life.
More importantly, authentic chaos is a deep reconnecting to our primal nature. It’s a vital hard reset into sacred alignment. It’s becoming a force of nature first and a person second. Written laws shrivel into nothingness beneath the primacy of the unwritten law of the interconnected cosmos. Self-as-world and world-as-self becomes the supreme perspective. Egocentrism is trumped by eco-centrism. One-dimensional independence is subsumed by multidimensional interdependence.
The world opens, the fountainhead overflows, the Philosopher’s Stone reveals itself, as the authentic chaos of the individuated cuts through toxic positivity like a hot blade through cold butter.
Practice Fait Sur Mesure:
“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.” ~Ram Dass
One powerful way to listen to your own truth is to practice fait sur mesure. Which is French for ‘made to your measure.’ A huge part of becoming your own savior is realizing when what your culture has given you is not to your measure and then having the courage to create a way of living that is to your measure.
This means accepting that you are the only benchmark for your life. You are the measure. Nobody else can determine what is or is not to your measure. Only you have the power to either remain a culturally conditioned cog or to become a courageously reconditioned catalyst.
Don’t fall into the trap of following someone else’s plan. Deconstruct, analyze, and scrutinize their plan, then improvise it. Stand on the shoulders of giants. Customize your life to your own fitting. Take this piece from this ideology and that piece from that ideology, but then connect it all to your own unique imagination. Be creative. Think outside the box. Push your culturally-prescribed comfort zone as far as it will go. It’s all yours for the making.
Understand: In the Matrix of the world, you are “the one.” Just don’t get a big head about it. Because everyone is “the one.” It’s just that not everyone has the capacity to act on it. It is your responsibility alone to gain the capacity to act on it. It is your responsibility alone to create your own destiny.
So, existentially crush out. No holds barred. Go full frontal boss mode on living life to the fullest. Dive into the cosmic ocean with Death for a lifejacket. Become your own savior before it’s too late.
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.
This article (Be Your Own Savior While You Still Can) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.