Breaking Free from “How Things Have Been”

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There’s this band I really like. They’re called Ivan & Alyosha, a name which pays tribute to Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov”. In Dostoyevsky’s final work, 20-year-old Alyosha is the name of the hero: immensely likable, well loved by all who meet him, and a novice in the Russian Orthodox monastery. His deep faith is in contrast to his brother, Ivan: a 24-year-old young man wrestling with himself in between a deep philosophical sense of realism on one hand and the concept of religious faith. At one point in book five, Ivan says to Alyosha, “It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket.”

The literary context of the band’s name is quite revealing about the kinds of topics and themes found in their repertoire songbook: the individual quest for philosophical and theological understanding, the experience of coming of age in the context of a specifically different generation, etc.

This song, “I Don’t Want to Die Anymore” just struck me as a really important kind of “Aha!” moment that many come to experience in their 20s. I certainly did. It’s the realization that there’s a new, better, healthier way of living. For me, it came hand-in-hand with the understanding that I didn’t need to feel stuck any more: what I was doing today doesn’t dictate what I have to do tomorrow, or in a year, or until I die. Tomorrow is not determined by “how things have been”.

And what an incredible, freeing moment that was! I was able to leave my completely unsatisfactory job in HR in Target’s Headquarters, explore a new career opportunity (one that revealed an incredible passion and sense of vocational call), and allowed me to start living with a deeper sense of meaning, awareness, and joy.

That being said, here are a couple lines from “I Don’t Want to Die Anymore” that stuck out to me a few moments ago. As you listen to this song, I’d like to invite you to think about the things in your life that have been hurting you physically, spiritually, or otherwise: things that are killing you, or making you feel like you’re merely “getting by”. You’re more free than you may realize right now. There’s good news in self awareness, if you’re willing to take a peek inward!

Don’t want to get by anymore
So many things I can’t accept
It’s you and it’s me
Just what are we here for?
So many things I can’t ignore
So, I don’t want to get by anymore

Best of luck, and be good to other humans.

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