Life advice from a 30-year-old by Brendan Uhl

Posted May 15, 2018 at 3:32 pm

*Brendan Uhl.tif

Q: ““I’m not afraid, at least not to die. I’m afraid to live and not remember why.” That’s a line from my favorite song. Right now, I don’t remember why I’m living. I see things happening around the world: Events in Syria, hate and hypocrisy in religion, and the constant fight with North Korea to name a few. I’ve become apathetic, and this apathy is an ocean; I’m consumed by it. I’ve given up pursuing a contribution to society. At the core of my heart, though, is really this: How do I start to care again? Where do I start in finding that passion again? It’s so bothersome to not care, but I can’t bring myself to find a way to start again.”

A: Thank you for your question. You have tapped into some feelings that many of us carry. It is truly overwhelming to think about the amount of tragedy in the world; past, present, and future. The internet, with its many benefits, has undoubtedly given us access to more of the world’s suffering than we are hard-wired to handle. It’s no wonder that many of us shut down in the face of it all. I’ve been there myself. For me, the root of that apathy is a feeling of powerlessness. If I can’t fix it all, why bother?

So often we focus our energy where we have very little control, and while it can be valuable to know the current state of the world, if all that it brings us is apathy, then it has no value. It may seem irresponsible at first glance, but sometimes the best thing to do is unplug from it all for a while. Try a week. Literally stop watching the news. Stop going on social media. Don’t read tabloids. It’s too easy to become consumed by media. It is, after all, designed to grab and keep our attention. Shut it all out for awhile and notice what happens. I suspect that you’re going to have a lot more energy (and time!).

With the distractions and noise of the world gone for a bit, you’ll be able to focus your attention where all significant social change begins: at home. There are many quotes that encapsulate this principle, and I think Gandhi said it best: “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world—that is the myth of the atomic age—as in being able to remake ourselves.”

So, how do you remake yourself? How do you begin to care again? Let me first say that this is not professional advice. I’m just a young man who has been through a lot and found my way through with some degree of sanity and a bit of wisdom. With that said, I think you need to remember just how valuable you can be to your community. To come into contact with your power, rather than your powerlessness.

It was once suggested to me that I do something nice for someone every day, and don’t tell anyone about it. I’ve done it, and it works. We all have neighbors, children, co-workers, and family. They all need love. Leave cards for them. Pick up litter from their yard. My personal favorite is to silently wish people well as I walk by them. It’s rather fun, too. Little do they know that you are wishing them all good things. Wish for them everything that you want for yourself. Journal about it and notice what happens. By taking positive action at home, we change ourselves, and the world changes with us. As we touch our own effectiveness, we begin to see the world through different eyes, and we can once again begin to expand our attention to broader problems when the time is right.

The last thing is simply to remember that this too shall pass. Just like the seasons, we go through changes and phases of our own. Like everything else, your apathy is only temporary, and with some action you’ll be out of the winter sooner than you think.

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