A Letter to myself –
October 30th, 2019 – A Tuesday
To me, my unconscious, my soul, and my future…
What would my life look like if I did everything I knew I ought to do every day? Where is the call to adventure sending me? What is next? Why do I capitulate to the multitude of unnecessary luxuries that feign convenience but form a prison? Possessions and luxury are prisons the same as any other. They are chains binding us where we are, not wings that free us to rise to the heights of our potential. I’m of half a mind to retreat from the pandemonium about me because though there is a multitude of happy moments, I don’t think that I am truly happy.
I’ve looked at becoming a ship captain, or a mountain guide, or maybe becoming a sailboat skipper. The stiff sea-breeze of Camden’s harbor blew the dust off my yearning. The cobwebs no longer guard me against discontent; routines. The cold rock under my feet and the sight of a glacier six days a year is not enough to sustain me.
I find that I am most profoundly content after midnight, typically at my typewriter with a cigar or two in me and several glasses of wine. The silence of my own soul lifts in the tumult of my surroundings, and my true thoughts come bubbling up from the mire the discontent of being a barbarian caged in society.
Why do I struggle so with this? It would be so simple to be happy in my non-demanding but high-paying job, to be content with my mediocre friends, and pleased with the delicious food I cook, the good wine I drink a little too much of, and to be at peace with the ‘excellent’ lot life has dealt me. And yet I ache – I ache for a LIFE, not a pleasant existence that’s forgotten two generations hence.
I write letters like Theodore Roosevelt, I read Hemingway, I listen to Jordan Peterson, and it seems only to be a proxy for the life I wish to live instead. All of those men LIVED; they did not merely eat, drink, and die like so many others. They all struggled, raged even, and mightily so. I have no struggle in my life, and that, I think, is the rub. All discomfort I experience is self-imposed, there’s no hunger inside me, pressed upon me by the outside world. Everything primal has been stripped away or dressed in the itchy veneer of acculturation.
I spend so much time learning, listening, reading, consuming, etc. and no time doing. No time taking ACTION. My escapes to the survival school in North Georgia are truly escapes, definitionally necessitating that what I do here inside my home in the perimeter is a fallacy, a cage, and a farce unwillingly forced on me. And while they afford me brief moments of barbarism, felling 100-foot oaks, starting fires with bow drills, and grilling great slabs of beef over a live fire with a circle of bearded men, I cannot help but wonder to myself why this isn’t just my norm?
My soul needs some fear. Some opposing contexts. A chance to sit in the fire and be content there. If I’m not afraid, then I’m not on the edge, testing my boundaries. My existence is necessarily tame, smothered by modern convenience.
Do I believe in the serendipity of life? Am I willing to step out of my cushy existence to truly live, feal, fear, and suffer? Can I create that here without a firesale of my conventions and connections? Or do I genuinely need to go and be alone? To retreat into the woods for a week, to fast and feel the hunger, the sharpening of my eyes, the clearing of my night vision as the only true necessity behind air and water takes over.
To feel the vacant cavern behind my ribs ignite that primal force that makes us more than the plants? I think I’d come out on the other side, a completely different person. A right of passage in a world wiped clean of ritual and symbolic significance. Sooner rather than later…
I need a change of pace. I need a change of place. I need a change of headspace. I need to create a mountaintop experience. Why is it in the modern world that an awakened man must take it upon himself to initiate himself? I’ve never had a tribe, but I already miss it. My existence is comfortable and easy, but it’s not a life. It is a quiet cry for help smothered under good food, convenient sex, and a short commute. I need to starve a bit…
A man adrift, tethered to his belongings and comfort –
Scott Callicott Ortlip
Scott Ortlip is the man behind @searthesteer and searthesteer.com. He was going through a rough patch when he wrote this and is still going through a rough patch (called life, but through taking massive action, he’s found new ways to thrive in this fabulous shitshow we call life. Drink your wine, and eat your beef, but make sure you’re staying hungry…
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