Have you ever thought about how difficult it is to actually hurt yourself?
I don’t mean a paper cut. I mean something that’s disgusting to look at, where you’re at risk for death. What would it take?
In this society, it’s very difficult. We are safe. And even if we are hurt, plastic surgery, free medical care (sorry, Americans), and medicine means we’ll recover instead of dying of an infection.
The only injuries we’re accustomed to in today’s society are not acute injuries, but chronic injuries caused by things like food, stress, etc.
Any world where cancer is a serious risk is extremely safe, because it means many people are living for as long as it takes to get cancer.
We’re in an eternal cradle. It’s very difficult to die, or to be seriously injured.
Think of the way we treat children, versus how they were treated 20 years ago. We have all been eternally infantilized.
I thought about this the other week as I spent time in Thailand with Julie Angel, one of the top parkour documentarians in the world. Watch her videos and ask yourself whether anyone would do them in a world where they were in serious danger of dying from an injury. Stunt men are willing to do their jobs because being on fire is now reasonably safe.
Think about that.
Instead, our cultural environment creates other risks. Being broke, dying alone, not fulfilling your potential– these exist because we are no longer concerned with being devoured by predators or afraid of starving. But these are risks that are significantly less severe, and much easy to recover from.
It’s possible to seriously hurt yourself, but only if you’re alone– when people can’t come to your rescue, or won’t, because you fulfill a social role that doesn’t get help. (Drunk Japanese businessmen and the homeless, for example.)
This culture creates media like Fight Club, which is revered because people are looking for authenticity and real risk which they can’t get inside of the system. So, they go looking outside of it.
What happens in a world where you cannot die?
You risk more, because consequences are diminished.
Peaks stay high, but valleys are reduced… for those who use the valleys to their advantage.
If you think this isn’t relevant to you, because physical culture isn’t a part of your life, you’re wrong.
In this world, you cannot die in any environment.
You cannot die socially because the social fabric smoothes over most mistakes with time.
You cannot die on the web because failure is cheap and the worst that happens is obscurity.
We are in a world where the chance of permanent, uncorrectable failure has dropped to zero.
It’s time you started living accordingly.
We think failure is forever. Wrong.
We think embarrassment can’t be recovered from.
We think losing is the end of the world.
You can cover up a bad tattoo. You can heal a broken bone. You can get into another relationship. You can move to a new city.
You can recover from anything. No mistake is forever and most are easier to recover from than you think they are.
Do this now.
Below, write down the first act you will take as your new self– the one that cannot die and for which failure is insignificant.
Have it be something you are seriously afraid of. Something that makes your heart beat fast.
Then, after you’ve written it down, do it.