“The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” ~Charles Du Bos
Beyond all comfort zones lies the unknown, the unexplainable, the otherworldly, the mysterious. It’s a scary wasteland of shadowy unfamiliarity. It outflanks you with the oppression of its unpredictability. It threatens your faux somethingness with its fierce nothingness.
But therein lies your life’s ultimate task. Out there—in the great unknown—there are adventures to be had. There are labyrinths to conquer. There are whetstones upon which to sharpen the blade of yourself. There are demons to be pressurized into diamonds. There are Hero’s Journeys waiting to be self-actualized.
All you need is the courage to face it. The courage to forsake the comfort zone. The courage to transform boundaries into horizons. The courage to take a leap out of belief (closed to what you wish the truth would be) and into faith (openness to what the truth could be).
Such courage can be found in the archetype of the existential outlaw: the psychosocial symbol for courage in the face of fear, mortality, impermanence, and nihilism.
When you don the cloak of the existential outlaw, passion becomes providence. The kind of passion that is primal and primordial. The kind of passion that makes you come alive. It’s a force of nature within—quintessential, sacred, and hungry for interdependence.
It resurrects the primitive truth seeker within. It reignites the primal spark. It reawakens the wayward inclination to take on that rugged journey toward the sublime. It’s a vital sacrifice of what you are for what you could become. It’s a surrender to the Great Mystery.
When you’re in the throes of existential banditry, you’re a reborn reveler reveling in the immortal awareness that lies beyond space and time. You’re a transcendental drifter, a wayward warrior, an aesthetic arrester. You’re the Overman’s Oversoul, numinous and magnanimous, and filled to bursting with agape love and amor fati.
Unruly and untamed, existential outlaws defy all authorities, all laws, all gods. They stretch comfort zones until they snap back. They challenge abyss’s to staring contests. They kneecap all high horses. They shine their nefarious black light into the blinding light of the Ivory Tower. They existentially crush out.
They do so in order to discover the universal laws that bind all things. To tap the lodestone of the cosmic fountainhead that makes all things possible. To discover what keeps everything connected to everything else.
Thus, the great importance of donning the cloak of the existential outlaw for yourself. It’s vital that you do so. Because nobody else can do it for you. Because most will never do it for themselves, let alone for each other. So it’s on you.
It’s your responsibility alone to spearhead the evolution of the species. It’s on you to be the forerunner of the forgotten secret that everything is connected. It’s on you to pioneer the Truth Quest despite the “truth.” It’s on you to have the metaphysical grit to take on nihilism in all its deceptive forms. It’s on you to finally say YES to the neglected whispers of the blood.
The blood of the species yearns for the radical elevation of our collective consciousness. It longs for the courage to cut the puppet strings that keep it connected to outdated reasoning, to move into the unknown, to live dangerously.
The existential outlaw is the essential outcast, the necessary outlier, the vital exile. Searching the nooks and crannies of the forbidden reaches. Roaming the wilds for magic elixir to bring back to the “tribe.” Wandering through the depths of solitude with the broken compass of his heart. Listening intently to the wisdom of a “language older than words.”
The existential outlaw is a lone wolf, a periphery keeper tasked with maintaining the crossroads that bridge the gaps between worlds. A mighty howl in an otherwise dwarfing cosmos, the lone wolf joins forces with the void with pluck and aplomb, with tenacity and candor, with fierceness and grace. Transforming boundaries into horizons, inverting shadows, and reinventing God.
The lone wolf brings this medicine back to his people in the form of deep philosophy and even deeper mystery, helping the people to see the ordinary as extraordinary and the mundane as sacred.
As Tolstoy said, “For man to be able to live he must either not see the infinite or connect the finite with the infinite.”
Existential outlaws are busy connecting the finite with the infinite lest they lose sight of the infinite. They dance between worlds with dangerous flair and soul-shocking art, bridging gaps with mystic recalibrations and relearned myth. They are pathfinders in a world hung-up on well-trodden paths. They are trailblazers wherever the trail has been lost. They are torchbearers whenever the path has gone dark.
It is of the first order of importance to don the cloak of the existential outlaw for yourself. Grab ahold of it and let it grab ahold of you. Use it to empower you. Use it as a beacon of light in the dark. Use it as a beacon of darkness in the blinding light. Use it to sharpen your mettle and fulfill your greatest potential.
Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable. Cut the strings. Stretch your soul.
Take the lasso of your comfort zone and toss it around the horizon of your fear. Pull it toward you. Get your fear behind you where it can push you further rather than ahead of you where it will only hold you back. Nobody else can do this for you. This is your responsibility alone. Don’t wait.
Don the cloak of the existential outlaw and defy fear. Defy death. Defy culture. Defy even God.
Defiance is the heart of human brilliance. Without it we are finished as a species. Without it we will atrophy and wither into scapegoat slaves, mediocre moppets, petulant puppets, and laughable lapdogs wallowing at the feet of someone else’s decree.
But if we defy—if we challenge the gods, if we steal fire, if we question all answers, if we turn all the tables, flip all the scripts, push all the envelopes, and meltdown all the golden idols—then we escape the trap of comfort and certainty. We escape the tyranny of nihilism. We unleash the soul.
The world vitally needs more unleashed souls. All too many souls are moored by egoic forces. Whether those forces are personal or cultural, they must be overcome. And they can only be overcome by individuals who have defied, rather than deified, the nihilism that surrounds them.
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (Why You Should Become an Existential Outlaw) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.