[This post is part of a series introducing kirism, a contemporary philosophy of life. You can learn more about kirism in Lighting the Way: How Kirism Answers Life’s Toughest Questions.]
You get to write your story. That isn’t easy—but it’s vital!
Self-authorship requires that you accept how authorship really works. Authorship means a radical acceptance of messy process. You go into the unknown and you learn as you go. Your first draft may need the ashcan. So be it!
Your story is bound to shift. Yesterday it may have been your truth that you did not want children. Today it may be your truth that you do want children. Your story has a new plot line. Kirists grow easy with the shifting storylines of life.
Your story may shift in the following way. Twenty years ago, the idea of being a psychiatrist seemed exactly right. You went to medical school and built your practice. Today, you despise pushing pills as a cure for life’s challenges. Your story has a new plot line!
Your story may shift in the following way. You were a brooding teenager and a reckless twenty-something. At thirty, despair took over. You look back, shake your head, and smile. Now you’re a kirist. Your story has shifted from author-less to authored.
The creative process comes with mistakes, messes, changes of heart, changes of direction, occasional inspiration, and a lot of not knowing. The same for the process of life! You author your life like a creator wrestling an alligator.
What might stand in the way of self-authorship? Maybe never having the idea pop into your head. Maybe you were already indoctrinated by age nine or felt defeated by age twelve and never heard yourself say, “My life is entirely mine to direct.”
What might stand in the way? Your clan. Your clan will certainly reject your efforts at self-authorship. They have been subtly or overtly telling you who you’re supposed to be and how you’re supposed to act since birth and they are no doubt telling you still.
Your peers will certainly reject your efforts at self-authorship. Each of them enters a system that makes demands, including the demand of strict loyalty. If you say, as a matter of self-authorship, “Your system is flawed,” they will despise you.
The world’s tyrants and bullies will certainly reject your efforts at self-authorship. They love freedom for themselves and hate freedom for you. Their goals are to control you, diminish you, and ridicule you, not applaud your thoughtful, singular journey.
Your religion or philosophy will almost certainly reject your efforts at self-authorship, unless it is unusually benign and enlightened. As a rule, you will be instructed to follow, not lead, and to accept their dogma as the gospel truth.
Your employer will almost certainly reject your efforts at self-authorship. He will demand loyalty, secrecy, subservience, obedience, and lots of company cheerleading. You are to toe the line at all times, not venture out and write your own script.
All these forces and many others stand opposed to your efforts at self-authorship. And you yourself may be opposed to the idea. You may hate carrying the weight of freedom on your shoulders and happily drop it for the sake of a certain ease.
You may find it less stressful, more convenient, altogether safer and maybe even more responsible to wear blinders, nod in agreement, bow to every pressure, and never stand up or speak up. Of course, this won’t make you feel very proud.
In our philosophy, the philosophy of kirism, you are obliged to thoughtfully author your own life, aiming to do as much good as possible, because your ethical sense demands that. Have you had a recent chat with yourself in which you lay out those obligations?
It’s time to take charge of your story!
Eric Maisel is the author of 50+ books. Read Lighting the Way and join the meaning revolution!