There are, of course, those basic life choices, often narrowing down to the following continuum:
Living from inside_____________________________________Living by/in exteriors
The exterior life is largely connected with the world of work and nonstop socialization. In it, we often wear social masks to hide our true selves because we are often dealing with people who don’t know us or have no real interest in us (except as a means to an end). Although the exterior life is connected with making a living, being ‘connected’, and achievement and ambition, it often involves selling out, compromises, and dealing with crazy people, absurd situations beyond one’s control, and power-trippers and users of various kinds. Frequently, one lives, exteriorly, as a pawn in someone’s else’s game, as Dylan once put it. At some point, though, one has to remember that there is more to life than seeking money, power, and controlling others.
Which is why so many people flip out in the social world because they are not their own authentic selves, and are many times at loggerheads with others, the system, and the extrovert or external lifestyle. At some point, I feel, people have to be themselves, make best choices for themselves (which often don’t include others), and live a more honest, conscious lifestyle. This often leads to ‘dropping out’, retreat to solitude or a quieter life. One simply doesn’t need to endure situations one doesn’t choose with minimal power or control over one’s external life. One simply doesn’t need ‘crap’ of or the hassles of dealing with irrational or crazy others, who make their own choices in any case. One can simply choose to live a life on one’s own terms.
I can remember past moments such as: leaving McNally once I learned I was being declared surplus after all I had done for that school, deciding to travel to New England early one school year despite everyone else telling me ‘I couldn’t do that’, turning down renewal of a leadership position did not want which was being offered to me with full expectation of my acceptance and thereby external control, retiring from teaching early completely on my own terms, and picking the educational book projects I wanted from beginning to end.
And did I find enough to distract me and fulfill me in my ‘solitude’ the past 12 years? Easily. The inner life is the main one I have happily known, experienced, and expressed. It simply cut out a lot of noise, conflict, and hassle–none of which I miss. And I can socialize with whom I please, notably with my few chosen friends and family, none of whom are weak or crazy. They are all interesting, pleasant people to go with my many interesting interests. (With Nature always close-at-hand/on standby.)
All in all, it is and has been a very full life. And what I want to do I still do whether it be a trip, an activity, or venturing out into the madding crowd for self-chosen diversions and connections whenever I need them. (As always, money/cost/price is the last consideration.) So is What will others think? Freedom, as I’ve mentioned before, as well as power and control over one’s life, are three of the best values. One can never have too much of freedom, in particular. Or living vertically, in depths, which I habitually do. Whitman’s “I am large, I contain multitudes” has stood me in good stead, the enrichment personally generated and experienced within, on the left side of the continuum, left of centre where I long have been and continue to happily be.
The first and last person one always has to answer to is one’s self.
There is much more to life than performing for others or, as Hamlet noted, being played by others.