As I look for new ideas and inspiration to write from, I get invited to a new prompt challenge by May More, and co-hosted by FlossDoesLife. Food For Thought Friday is basically how it sounds, writing about topics that really make you think. And today is “Words to live by”.
When it comes down to what life lessons I should live by, it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. I didn’t exactly get a lot of great advice growing up as I didn’t have the best role models in my life. Both of my parents had their own careers along with six siblings to keep an eye on. Not a lot of time was given for things like life lessons and parental bonding. Most outings involved activities to be done as a group, and almost always had someone who didn’t care for it to bring the rest of us down.
My early adult life was spent in the Navy, and while many see it as a forging of brotherhoods in defense of God and country, the truth is it wasn’t. It was three-hundred people on one ship engaging in daily penis-measuring contests. Many of whom, both higher ranked and in the same rank, believed they were passing on wisdom to me: the new guy. For the life of me, I can’t remember anything that was said that ended up being useful to me anywhere outside of penis-measuring. It wouldn’t be until later that I realized that that time of my life was spent in a large pool of frail and toxic masculinity.
At one point, I was dating a woman who worked at a strip club, and someone tried to convince me that, “if you go down on her, you’re sucking the dick of every guy she’s been with.”
That was about the quality of ‘words to live by’ that I was receiving at that time of my life.
For a few years after my enlistment ended, I felt like I had some understanding of life and what it was supposed to be, but much of it was still a great mystery to me, and no matter where I looked, or who I talked to, there was always something missing or a there would be a huge hole in their logic, or my logic. I studied Carl Jung, dabbled in metaphysics, even went so far as to learn about Hermes Trismegistis. None of it seemed up to the task of giving concise, strait-forward, useful information. There was only ever part of an answer and someone else who contradicted it. Who was I supposed to believe? Whose example was I supposed to follow?
It wouldn’t be until 2010 that things changed. I was a big gamer, of course, and found that the greatest words to live by came from a fictional character created by Ubisoft. Of all the places to look, my inspiration finally came to me in the form of a historical-themed video game, spoken by an assassin named Ezio Auditore da Firenze. I had finally finished the game and decided to purchase the Bonfire of the Vanities DLC. By the end of it, Ezio gave a speech that changed me. I must have listened to it about a hundred times since then.
You may want to go fullscreen if you have problems understanding the Italian accent.
“Words to live by” often evokes the idea of wisdom. Especially wisdom that transcends time and individuals. But wisdom is an understanding of the world, and of your life. No one can tell you what that is for you. It’s something you learn from yourself.
Create change in your own life.
Look past your instincts.
Don’t allow others to decide your purpose.
No one deserves absolute loyalty.
No one can give you the answers. Find them for yourself.