We’re all fighting many battles in our lives, some with ourselves, some with others and some with the world around us. That’s why it’s so hard to judge people, because you don’t know what battles are they fighting right now. Your grumpy neighbor whom you think is just a pain in the ***; he may be fighting a battle to lose weight, another battle to save his marriage, another to grief a loved one, another one to pay the bills and another one to suppress his repressed sexual frustrations which he has been carrying since highschool. So he may look grumpy to you but he’s actually very stressed about many things happening in his life and his mind at the same time, and that has nothing to do with you, they are his battles, and he has to fight them himself.
If you’re an avid reader, you may be familiar with narrative conflicts such as man vs god, man vs nature, etc.
In my life, I’m fighting 4 main battles myself and this post will detail them from the least important one to the mayor or main one. But before we start, feel free to play this song to listen to while reading because its title inspired this post:
The battle for financial independence
This battle began when I moved to South America because I was expecting to earn a living the same was I had done it in Asia, but after coming here I realized the salaries for foreign teachers are about 6 times lower here but the cost of living is the same one, so it wasn’t possible to work here and that’s how my personal road to entrepreneurship started.
A year later, and after teaching languages online via Skype for 6 to 8 hours every day, I realized it was taking a huge toll on my eyesight and I was becoming blind because of retinitis pigmentosa much quicker than I had predicted I would, so suddenly I found my eyes were tired and burning most of the time I was staring at the computer screen. I had headaches, I had to take more breaks with my eyes closed just to calm the burning and I all the free time I had without classes, I had to spend it with my eyes closed so that my eyes would recover from and for my classes and that’s when I realized it wasn’t sustainable for me to be an online teacher anymore because I can’t stare at a screen for one hour straight, so that’s how my personal road to passive income started.
And that journey is still ongoing. I quit most of my online classes and now have only 2 classes which require me to stare at t the screen and another one where I just need to talk, so I can do it with my eyes closed.
To take care of all the online tasks required for internet marketing, I manage somehow like this:
I would verify an Instagram account, that takes 5 minutes of eye strain, then I would sweep the floor which is 5 minutes without eye strain, then 5 minutes to answer an email, then a 5 minutes break to wash the dishes, then 5 minutes to post something on Reddit followed by 5 minutes to eat a snack, and so on. So if I work 8 hours, only 4 of them are spent in total in front of the screen and the 5-minute intervals give my eyes time to recover.
The battle for physical independence
My eyesight just crashed during the last year, I lost most of the little cones we use to process the light and send the images to our brain for processing, to a point where light just burns my eyes now, but I still want to keep being independent. I want to cook my own meals, wash my own clothes, earn my own money and look after myself without having to depend on others because dealing with others usually involves some kind of drama I’m not well equipped to deal with.
So what did I do to achieve physical independence? First I left the big city because the most painful moments of the day are when I need to walk on the street because every car light burns my eyes. I can still process natural light well, so I moved from the big city of Manta to a small town called Santa Marianita which has almost no cars and I can walk by the beach uninterrupted for hours without artificial light hurting my eyes.
The next thing I did was trying to cut down on computer and phone time as much as possible without affecting my ability to earn a living, and I did that by implementing the intervals method I explained in the previous point.
I also became more mindful, more aware of the present moment. I know I have about 3 to 4 more years to be able to use the computer still and about 10 years before all I can see are shapes and shadows so I’ll make the most of them, and that to me means writing as much as I can while I can and enjoying life on the beach as much as possible for as long as possible. I already got my Ecuatorian citizenship so there’s not much else stopping me from retiring here just like in that black mirror episode “San Junipero”. Ecuador is probably the place for me to live and die because relocating and dealing with governments, borders and visas are things I just don’t have the strength to keep doing anymore.
Learning echolocation is one of the main reasons I practice mindfulness. I’m aware of how sound bounces on the objects around me and that helps me identify where am I in relationship to the objects. Some people use canes or guide dogs, I’ve got a clicker and mental map. I know I’m not going to astral project or do some crazy stuff, echolocation is my only option and I need to master it whether I want it or not.
The battle to understand I will die
Why do I have to die? I don’t want to lose all the memories I’ve built and the things I’ve learned. It was difficult to reach this level and I struggled so hard and push through to overcome so many obstacles, and if I die everything will have been in vain.
How to live knowing life is so fragile and the human body so weak?
The more mindful and aware you become, the scarier it gets. Yes, now you know and understand more things. More things that will be lost when you die
How to live a peaceful life while knowing you will die? How to avoid the stress of knowing every day is precious because our lives are very short?
The battle to understand my dog will die
Why does Bong Gu have to die? What about all the good memories we have together? After she dies, do I really want to live in a world where she doesn’t exist?
I know there’s no life after death, so even if I were to also die, I know I won’t be able to continue my adventures with her as ghosts, angels or souls. So what good would it do? None, just maybe relieve me of my misery so I don’t need to put in the effort required to overcome grief and move forward.
That’s a battle I don’t know if I could win, even if I were to fight it, and I don’t even know where to find the will or the motivation to fight it in the first place. And to a lesser degree, I feel the same way about the other 3 fights as well. Let’s say I fight them and win them all, that I become financially independent, I overcome my dissability, accept my fate and learn to deal with grief, then what?
You see where I’m going? I got the answer to the riddle already. I know the solution to all my problems is called contentment. And I know no matter how many battles I fight, win or lose, there will always be new battles and it’s a vicious circle that never ends.
I am able to see and understand some things others can’t and no, that doesn’t make me better, different or special in any way, that is just a fact and I have no ego to feed. I can think a bit more deeply about things and that gives me sort of an edge in most situations but it’s a double-edged sword just like hate, when you hate something or someone that hurts both parties equally and when you try to understand things you were not supposed to try to understand, that does more harm than good.
We were not supposed to question why we die, we were just supposed to die.
Our world is a mess, chaos rules the universe, our society is falling apart, I am doomed, my thoughts are cursed and my own mind is full of riddles and contradictions.
It’s like there’s an island called acceptance and contentment and I’m at the other side of the shore watching the strong currents.
I know I’m not strong enough to swim through.
I know there are many boats saying they go to the island but they actually go somewhere else.
I also know there are some gurus who own some big boats and tell you they will take you there but they also take you somewhere else, and I know there are two boats you have to take alone and they take you somewhere near the island, one is called meditation and the other one is called psychedelics but they don’t really take you all the way into the island, they only take you about halfway there and then you need to swim the rest of the way by yourself and if you’re not fast and strong enough, the current will drag you back to your starting point or even farther away from where you started your trip and that’s where I am right now. I know where the island is, I know how it is and what’s there. I know how not to get there and how to get half the way there, I’m just not strong enough to swim all the way there yet.
Maybe I’ll make it and maybe I won’t. Who knows, the important thing is that I tried, oh no, actually it isn’t because the harder you try to reach the island the more you distance yourself from it. Or at least that’s what the gurus say.
So you can’t try too hard to reach it because that will cause stress, you also can’t swim there because the current is too strong. You have no helicopter or vehicle and you can’t teleport, levitate or use your superpowers, which by the way you don’t have and will never have.
And yet, the fact of being aware and understanding you’re not able to make it yet and the reasons why, somehow brings you a little closer to the island itself.