You are willing to die, you coward, but not to live. – Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf
Let me begin with one of my favorite books of all time: Steppenwolf. It is symbolic after all, for the book deals with a man who lives in seclusion, and yet in plain sight. Completely immersed into his own world, in his books and art, his love for classical music, he is arguably one of the strangest creatures around. Feeling as if he’s half man, half wolf, he cannot comprehend the ways of man and yet .. he can also not live without them. Wandering through life alone, sad and a bit lost, he meets this girl – and she says to him one of the most beautiful things anyone could say by asking how he could possibly be “done with life” if he didn’t even try everything life has to offer? How then, she wants to know, could he possibly be certain that life was not for him?
Truthfully, I have also not tried everything life has to offer and I’m sure neither have you. We are so easily defeated, we are so willing to believe that we’re “not good enough” or unable to reach certain goals – but until we try, how can we know? Until we die, how can we stop living? For the most essential thing about being alive is to keep on trying new things, to continuously reshape our ideas – in short, to be alive is to be in eternal transformation. Take this blog for instance. I was pretty convinced I was unable to have a themed blog – or to put in any real effort for an extended period of time. Well, I’m a coward. Because I never tried. Similarly, in your own ways you are a coward.
We have the right not to give up and to try out as many new things as we want to. No one can tell us what we must or mustn’t do with our lives. If you know where you’d like to go, go there! Don’t tell yourself you’re not “good enough” or “unable to achieve something”. Never believe that where you are is where you have to be – unless you like being there. Ask yourself whenever these thoughts come up: are you really done with life? Did you accomplish all of your goals – or are they still waiting for you to dare trying? In the end, the question Hesse is asking us is simple: are you willing to die while you’re alive, or do you want to live until you’re dead?