Dear Lana,

I was thinking about the fine line between inspiration and insecurity. If the self is derived through understanding others, then it certainly makes a lot of sense that we understand what we lack through observing what we are envious of in others.

I wonder when I felt like I truly gained control over my own life. It feels recent. A sense of incongruence defined other parts of my life, but now that incongruence has aligned itself. I wonder how my own willpower fits into that. Do we have control over our own willpower, or is that something determined at birth? What constitutes greatness? People who were great in history — did they know they destined to be great, or is it something they picked up on the way? Similarly, were we meant to be something, or is that something we pick up along the way?

Power defined by Locke is the ability to influence your external reality. That is something I feel I have lacked a lot of my life — the power to influence. Does power separate between internal and external power? Is control over your internal world considered to be power? Either way, I think I am reminded a lot of how little I feel like I have the ability to influence things around me. There’s definitely some unfounded concepts of masculinity that are working in the background as well. What does it mean to influence my external reality? My internal reality is already a mess, and external reality seems more foreign than commonplace for me. Why should I bother to touch it?

Something I realize is that I generally am not as bold as I want to be in life. As much as I want to give off the aesthetic that I am beyond a state of craving validation, I realize that I still want to shape the world around me. Doing so, however, requires power, which is something that is amassed and cultivated. The opposite of power is weakness. When you are weak, you are unable to shape the world around you, unable to control your life. When you are weak, life happens around you, and your choices dwindle slowly in determining how you can shape your life.

When I think of my past, I generally characterize it by a feeling of powerlessness. The world happens around me, and I follow suit. There isn’t some radical claim to freedom to live the life I want; it’s happenstance, living the easy life, unquestioning. I did not have the power to influence my external reality in the way that I wanted it to, and my inability to do so shaped a desire to be better able to control my external reality.

I wonder when in your life you become content with how little power you have. By the time I reach middle age, I hope I’m not lamenting over my inability to have shaped my life perfectly to how I imagined it to be. I was thinking back to Nietzsche’s three metamorphoses in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. I thought I had moved on from the camel stage to the lion stage when I graduated high school, but there were a couple more years of camel-ness yet to come. I wonder if I have finally reached the lion stage now and if I’ll ever reach the child stage.

Nietzsche has quite a weird way of thinking about power — one of which separate from external reality but as internal fortitude. I’m not sure I would agree with his assessment because I think internal reality is inseparable from external reality. No matter how much we try to live separate from the world around us, it is still inevitable we our inner world exists as result of our participation our outer world.