“Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I used to be really afraid of death. For as long as I can remember I have been petrified by the knowledge that life is finite, and that each passing year brings me closer to the inevitable moment when I pass away, drifting into a state of eternal nothingness as my body turns to dust. Throughout my teenage years and early twenties, I would lay awake at night crippled by fear as I contemplated my own morality and questioned what kind of legacy I would leave behind when I died. I suffered panic attacks, cried a lot, and often felt isolated and alone.
At times my anxiety was so great that I was afraid of my own birthday. The annual event marked another step towards my death, and as I grew from a boy, into a teen, and finally into a man, the fear that I felt towards aging grew with me. I became afraid of the world, and petrified of leaving it. I was so fearful of being forgotten that I turned to writing as a means of creating a legacy that would allow me to be remembered long after I was gone.
Writing became an act of solace, and a means to combat my anxieties and fears…
…At least initially anyway. But as the years progressed and my creative skillset improved, I allowed myself to be driven by my fears and wrote with a maniacal obsession that became all consuming. Before too long I wasn’t just writing to fight fear; I was actively seeking to create anarchy inside of my own head because I believed that in doing so I could push myself to become a greater writer, and a stronger man. In my desire to outlive myself through my works I sacrificed friendships, destroyed careers, lost the love of my life, and became so closed off to the world that my own family questioned whether or not I loved them.
Eventually I became so caught up in this cyclic state of fear and anxiety that I pushed myself too far. In an effort to overcome the demons I was actively creating and allowing to live inside of my head, I lost sight of who I really am. I became angry and bitter, and while I wasted years believing that I was becoming a man; the truth is that I have spent my life hiding behind masks of wolves and world eaters while trying to convince those around me that I am strong. But I have been weak; and the only person that I ever fooled was myself.
Since The Renegade Press began four years ago I have received an endless stream of correspondence from readers who have been genuinely concerned for my health and wellbeing. I have always written from a place of pain because I thought that to be a great writer I needed to accentuate and exacerbate the fractures within me. But my loved ones and my audience saw that I was capable of being so much more than a bitterly angry little boy with a quick wit and a tendency to lash out at anyone and anything that he feared, or didn’t understand. When they looked at me they never saw the strength of a wolf that I envisioned they did. They saw a man who was hiding from his own insecurities and lying to himself.
They were right. And I was wrong.
Anyone who has been following this site for a little while will know that a few months ago the woman that I want to grow old with walked out of my life. She left because the man that she fell in love with had become so caught up in a frenzied desire to become a wolf and a world eater, and to fight away his fears that he let her down. Despite loving Sofie with an endless depth, I was so driven by fear and fuelled by a horrid desire to become more that I made her feel alone and question just how much I actually cared.
I cared more than she ever really knew. The proudest moment of my life was when I published my debut novel in February 2015 and she gave me a hand written letter telling me how proud she was, and how much she loved me. It wasn’t until she left that I realised I had spent almost two years pushing myself relentlessly to produce another manuscript just so that we could experience that moment together again. In doing so I destroyed everything that we had, and everything that she had expressed within that letter. I thought that in order to make her love me I needed to continue to allow my fears to drive me to become better. But I didn’t. I had my entire world in front of me, and she already loved me. I was just too stupid to realise it. I still have that letter; and I still read it from time to time.
Since she left I have walked through my own version of hell; taking time away from writing to rediscover myself and put to rest the horrible traits that I had allowed to fester within my heart for far too long. In doing so I have discovered an inner strength that I never knew I was capable of possessing. It hasn’t been easy, and I still think about her every day, but I have had to let go of the person that I’m going to love until the day that I die. At the same time, I have learned that despite best efforts from both parties, my sophomore novel War will no longer be released by Meizius Publishing.
At first I crumbled, and I cried. I have spent years wanting nothing more than to marry the girl who stole my heart from the very first moment that I saw her, and fought desperately to recapture that moment we shared together by producing another book. But losing her and learning that I will be parting ways with my publisher has made me stop for the first time in almost twenty-eight years and actually question just what the fuck I am actually doing with my life. In doing so I have come to realise that I’m no longer afraid of death; I’m afraid of experiencing an un-lived life.
As I walked through the hell inside of me and experienced the cacophony of disharmony that had consumed my mind, I realised that I was allowing myself to be driven by fear, rather than being led by my dreams.
I know that sounds like a bunch of bullshit written by a man trying to open up himself and be vulnerable with the world he lives in. But what I am trying to say is that I have finally figured out the answers to those harrowing questions we all ask ourselves, and which until just recently have eluded me: What is the purpose of my life? And what is my endgame?
The first question was actually surprisingly easy to answer. The purpose of my life, and yours, and everyone else’s is this: to be happy; no matter what happiness looks or feels like to you. The objective of the entire human existence is to be happy; and to be led by your dreams, rather than pushed by your fears. Since realising this and letting go of my fear of death I have learned how to smile again, and the importance of slowing down to enjoy life for what it is. I have come to the realisation that I don’t need to pen a best seller in order to consider myself a successful writer; by having just one person read this blog, or pick up my book, I have already exceeded my own wildest dreams.
The desire to drive myself to the dark places I once longed for is gone. Because of this I’m not the man I was a few years, or even a few months ago. I’m not a wolf or an eater of worlds, nor am I ever angry anymore. I’m happy; and for the first time in my life I can say that I am genuinely proud of the man that I have become, and will continue to become from here on out.
As far as my endgame is concerned… She first appeared on this website as the inspiration behind a post titled Landscape, and is the only woman that I will ever write about. She will continue to be the most exquisitely beautiful person in my life until the day that I die, and although I don’t know if I’ll ever see Sofie again, I still consider myself the luckiest man in the world. Because of her I know how it feels to fall madly in love with another human being, and to want to spend every day of the rest of your life making their world just a little bit brighter.
I would throw away everything for that girl. I would give up writing, pass up all my earthly possessions and walk through hell every single day from now until eternity, just to see her smile.
The eater of worlds is dead; killed off by his own fears and insecurities. But in his place stands the real Chris Nicholas; the one who became lost inside of his own head for a period of time and forgot what matters most in his life. That man is a writer, a lover, a brother, a son, and a friend. And most importantly, he is happy.
I don’t fear death anymore; I fear looking back on my time here on this earth and realising that I missed out on so many wonderful opportunities because of such a naïve notion of allowing apprehension of the inevitable to destroy the wonderful gift of life that I have been presented. I don’t want to grow old having squandered my time, or having lived an un-lived life. No matter what happens from this moment onwards; whether I ever publish another book, or have the opportunity to grow old with the woman with the little blue hearts; I can say that I am happy, I am proud of the man that I am becoming, and that I know just how wonderful it feels to experience true love.
After my time walking through the hell in me I have learned not to be driven by fear, and that my dreams are as simple as they are powerful. At just twenty eight years of age I have my happiness and I know my endgame. What else could a man ever want?