LEAVING THE DEBATE BEHIND |

Just before sunset, before the lightning dazzles the earth, everything seems to stop. My heart sinks, the universe beckons me closer, and my hands are steady. At this moment my mind is consciously still, my thoughts unknown to me, and I stand alone and at peace. This is my moment of clarity. At this time I know nothing, I do nothing nor do I say a thing. I am still, and my body beats and moves the way bodies do – and at this moment my mind relinquish all power, all control, and all design. I give in.

This is the calm I feel when I have fully surrendered my will and my life to something other than myself. I understand that my life cannot be run by self-propulsion. I have tried this way of life, and I have failed at this way of life. I have tried it backward, sideways, inside-out, and upside-down. I have tried it in different shades of color, different tempers, sharper lines, wild obscurity. None of it works when I am the one in control – and the reason is simple: I lack the power to run my life, and I certainly have no authority to run anyone else’s life.


This idea, the lack of authority, takes on greater meaning then I will discuss at the moment. Within this lack of power is an admittance that I know very little if anything at all. It leads me to this idea that for me the debate is over. The stage where I once argued politics, religion and ideologies is now empty. I am not withholding judgment; I am not biting my tongue believing this a more proper, tactful way to present myself; I simply do not have an argument for you. About my past self, my ego is shattered, and humility has risen exponentially. Consider also that my ego reached to the heavens and my humility, on some numeric scale, would have measured a .01, so I am not saying I have these qualities in surplus.

What I can say is that I no longer believe I have the answer for you. I do not have the answer for myself! I have had to seek out a power which could grant me direction and lend my feet a path which directs me straight instead of in circles. To debate my beliefs with another means I believe my answer is superior, and I have no way of knowing this. Common sense tells me that I do not have the answer for a country of 400 million people – humility tells me instead of arguing I ought to listen.

I have opinions! I am not claiming that I don’t feel strongly about certain things. In fact, I feel incredibly passionate about the ideology which my life has taken hold of – but I am humble enough to understand that this is my path, my ideals, my structure, and it works for me. I have no idea what works for you. There are things I do each day that I believe would make others more efficient, perhaps lessen the anxiety of others, allow others to lead a day with more clarity – but I only know that these things work for me. I will not tell you that following my morning routine will make you more connected and transparent – my opinion is that it is a fine method, but I know nothing of how you operate best because I do not know what you need.

This is not to say I keep my mouth shut. Many have come to me and asked me what I do, how I do things, how I arrived at certain points, and I am more than willing to sit down and share what I practice. I suggest my way of life may work for you as it works for me, but I do not proselytize. Often I hear others say “if only people would listen to me! If only things were done my way this world would be a better place” – Or the nonstop political debates roaring incessantly, opinions thrown to the wind and leaving me curious if the thought given to these opinions is genuine.


For me, the debating committee has resigned. And where it leaves me is often apart from many discussions and outside of certain social gatherings. But this is my method of recognizing my role in this world – that when I give up the notion that I have control over the day, over my life, and over the lives of others I find a new freedom where my choices become easy, my mind able to focus on things I consider important, and my heart able to be tolerant and compassionate instead of vicious and cynical. My life run on my accord leads me to darkness; it prompts me to make decisions based on selfishness and greed. My position in life becomes your fault, the government’s fault, the world’s fault – never mine.

I am limited – I cannot make this world whatever I wish it to be for myself by myself. I need help, and I have found help. Original thought is not something I am against, but it is not something I seek out. I find what works and what has worked for those who have come before me. I look to those who live a life of self-confidence, stillness, and ease. I look to those who do not admonish others for their beliefs but rather pay no mind to their opinions and instead seek to understand rather than be understood. The ones who listen with intent, who do not give answers but instead share their experience.

Others may question me, others may find my way of life peculiar and still others may find my stance weak. My stance, however, has the strongest backbone I know of, and it is not my back which carries the weight. I do not have answers for you; I cannot fix anything or anybody. I have suggestions, I have experience, I have scars if you need proof. All I need is to turn and ask for guidance, for direction, to be shown the next right action – I need to be taught how to be useful in the stream of life and how to be best of service. This life leaves me asking questions alone, sitting in reflection and searching through spiritual channels for the right action, the most useful action to be shown to me. I have lived a life where I chose my path, where I opted to believe I knew what was best for the 7 billion inhabitants on this earth and I ended up lost over and over again. Today I ask how I can be of service and how I can be useful and it leads me to others who need someone to listen to them. It brings me to individuals, not countries. And in turn whatever loneliness I encounter on this path is turned back into fulfillment when I need someone to listen to me.

I do not wish to debate with you anything at all; I simply do not have any answers. It is a shame if you feel I have let you down, and I would be more than willing to listen to you and share my experience.

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Rhett Burch is a writer & mental health advocate/board member with the North American Mental Illness organization in NYC. Through personal essays he shares his story of recovery and the different processes that have relieved him from many years of self-destructive behavior, depression, anxiety, and at times outright misery. His insight into the human struggle comes from personal experience and the subsequent relationship he has developed with those who still suffer. Rhett believes that by connecting with others through love and compassion, he can continually develop a clearer understanding of himself. Rhett approaches those that ask for help and does not force his views upon anyone. He practices a non-judgmental stance in all of his affairs and hopes that his experience, courage, and compassion will resonate with those that read it. ​

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