There are two types of people with “problems” in the world. The first is the ones with no escape, with no choice. The people living under oppressive regimes, or under oppressive illnesses, or worse. Someone in North Korea would have such a problem.
Then there’s the other type. The type that have a choice. That’s the rest of us. The rest of us with the difficulties in our lives that we have, for whatever reason, chosen to accept.
These are the people who often think they’re in the first category. They think they have no choice, no escape.
They say things (either to themselves or others) like, “What would other people think?” or “It’s not guaranteed to work” or (if they’re religious) “The community would shun me”.
I know some people who don’t go to therapy. They have crushing, scary problems. Emotional issues that could be so easily alleviated with a trained, thoughtful person to help them get on their feet.
“No, no… if I went, it would mean that there’s something wrong with me.” (Of course, they never actually say these words, but it is always what they mean).
As if normal people don’t get help when they need it. As if to reach out, to speak to someone, to get guidance, is a sign of weakness.
I recently realized that this is normal. That this is the way so many people think, act, live.
Some people go their whole lives like this. In their self-imposed prison. In their own North Korea. Locked away, hidden, their souls screaming for freedom.
Many people. Many. Around us. In front of us. Us.
We hide that key away, we pretend it doesn’t exist. Something about taking that first step away from our problems scares us. We prefer to be comfortable over being free. We prefer to be in a cage rather than face the unknown beyond.
If only we all realized that the cage is never worth it. The pain of not living our true lives, living as our true selves, may be hidden beneath, but it is the most true pain.
Imagine… a man in North Korea is given a one-way ticket. He can leave! There’s a private plane waiting for him. A pilot standing in front tells him, “Where do you want to go, sir? I’ve been instructed to fly you anywhere you want to go. Anywhere at all.”
The man in North Korea looks down at his ticket. Anywhere? Leave behind his family, his friends?
This is us, when we choose to not take the one step into a better life, a truer life, for ourselves. When we decide not to take the risk of doing the things that would truly free us. When we decide not to take the steps that will make us happier, healthier, stronger… more us.
Perhaps it’s our lack of awareness of how short life is. That even if we live full, healthy, long, lives… it will still end sooner than we care to realize. The feeling that “tomorrow” we’ll get to all those changes.
Today. Today is the time. The time to take that step.
To go to a therapist. To start an art project. To say or do something that others will judge you for. To dress differently. To get married. To get divorced. To embrace. To push away. To leave that job. To start your venture. To write that thing you’ve been afraid to write. To become an activist for that cause you care about. To start questioning your leaders. To revitalize your commitment to your God. To take that lesson. To learn that thing. To ask your husband to help with the chores for once.
To grow. To evolve. To change.
Today is the day. Now is the time. Just one step.