This blogpost is part two of a three part series that will explain the reasons that I am making this skate across America. More than anything, this is a way for me to get my thought pattern strait, but I hope that you will gain something from it as well. These are the reasons that belong to me.
Reason #2: You are Me
I would consider myself an agnostic person. I believe there are questions about life and the hereafter that I cannot answer and do not need to answer. When I first came to my agnostic beliefs, I was coming from a very strong religious background. That’s a story for another time and another venue, but the important thing to note is that I came to a place where all of my old values and my entire ethical system needed to be reevaluated. I experimented with various mindsets, and I discovered some interesting things about why we behave in various ways as humans. For a period, I will say that I was almost entirely selfish and cared almost exclusively for my own personal gain. I thought that mindset made the most sense. It wasn’t just about getting what I wanted: You see, I still wanted to save the world as much then as I do now! 😉 I just came to a point where I thought that the best thing to teach others was that they should also be selfish, for their own sake. In that sense, there was an unselfish quality to my selfishness.
It makes sense: When I behave selfishly and concern myself primarily with my own gain, I typically get what I want. Thus, an entirely logical approach to life would dictate that we should connive, scheme, and manipulate to get what we want. With this mindset, all values flip upside down, and it seems good to teach others to be selfish as well. I understand that being selfish is not always the same as being dishonest or manipulative; however, I believe pure selfishness ultimately requires it. What I’ve found is that something is missing when I take on that mindset, namely, depth.
Life takes on very shell-like quality, when we live only for our personal interests. Every word spoken, even when spoken in goodwill and friendship, becomes somehow twisted and insincere as it roles off the tongue. Without too much analysis, here’s the truth on the matter: We are indeed social beings who can scheme and manipulate to achieve personal gain, but such behavior does not give us the one thing we crave the most. We crave authentic connection with other living beings. So, the schemer ultimately schemes himself more than anyone else, because for all of his manipulation, he cannot achieve true friendship and will always be empty.
That brings me to my main point: To be a complete human being, full in every way, your ethic must be greater than just yourself. You must learn to recognize that what is good for another can also be good for you. I’m not just talking about mutually beneficial occurrences; I’m talking about experiencing personal gain through the gain of another. Parents do it when they take pride and joy in their children’s achievements.
Back to this skate: My pure logic would tell me that going on a cross-country skate to inspire others can only be beneficial to me if I become rich and famous because of it, but that’s not enough for me. It’s empty. For this skate to be fully enriching for me, it must cause me to grow more connected to my fellow human beings. The only way for me to do that is to actually care about someone other then myself. So when I say that I go because I want to help other’s find the courage they need to create freedom in their own lives, I mean it. If I don’t mean it, I disconnect myself in some way from the people I went to inspire. If I disconnect myself, I lose the most important value that I was seeking in all of this: connection. I go to do this, in part, because I’m not just me, and you are not just you. To some extent, you are me, and I am you.