Lessons from Aldus Huxley's Brave New World on the importance of getting uncomfortable
What truly connects us all in this human experience? It isn’t our success. Success varies from person to person and means something different to each of us. We’re connected by the times of struggle. It’s the dark times that in the end, change who we are at our core.
Nobody gets through life without hardship, whether they show it on the outside or not. But what would we be without pain?
Discomfort gives life depth, it feeds our spirit. Everyday victories are something to treasure when we know what it feels like to hurt. Pain makes life a beautiful journey worth enduring.
Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1932, giving readers a dark dystopian world stripped of the hardships that make life, life.
I recently read Brave New World for the first time.
I believe what we truly want in this world — meaning, place, the longing for beauty in its simplest form — have remained unchanged since the book was written. In the book, citizens are given place and purpose along with their creation. There’s no reason to search for it themselves.
In the real world when we’re beaten down and uncomfortable with no other choice but to fight, our true character has the ability to shine. We think deeply about who we are and what we’re capable of overcoming. There’s nothing else left to lose.
Finding life’s brightest light through darkness is a powerful juxtaposition. This idea is a constant reminder that whatever it is we’re going through, that very well may be where we’re supposed to be at that moment, experiencing the world as it is, our reason to live.
In Brave New World, John comes from a savage reservation left untouched by the modern dystopian world. On the reservation, life is similar to how it is in our world today. There are families, pain, suffering, and an authenticity that can’t be found in the dystopian world.
Towards the end of the book, Mustapha Mond, the controller of the futuristic nightmare explains to John, “we prefer to do things comfortably.”
“But I don’t want comfort,” John says. “I want God, I want goodness, I want sin.”
“You’re claiming the right to be unhappy. Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent, the right to have syphilis and cancer, the right to have too little to eat, the right to be lousy, the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow, the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.”
“I claim them all.”
This, as John realizes, gives life its essence. it’s through hardship as people that we can come together and actually feel something greater than ourselves. In a way it’s quite motivating.
Much of the world’s most influential works of art and literature have come from moments of vulnerability and pain, where there was nothing else left to hide.
In the book, the character Helmholtz was created as an Alpha in society. Helmholtz feels the muse within himself for the first time towards the end. He’s a writer, but until the norm was challenged by John, he had only created fluff work. This was what society required of him. He so badly wants to create real, fulfilling work and show the world his spirit, yet he doesn’t understand how. His life thus far had been comfortable and fake.
In that world of endless pleasure and bliss, there is nothing to push one to their breaking point and give a reason to fight.
“I feel as though I were just beginning to have something to write about,” Helmholtz says.
“As though I were beginning to be able to use that power I feel I’ve got inside of me — that extra latent power. In spite of all his troubles, he seemed, profoundly happy.”
Every moment in life has a purpose, no matter how hopeless things seem at the time. Often it’s in our most vulnerable moments where the muse presents itself.
Being comfortable is nice, but what’s really the point in it? To have something to live and fight for, to be scared, to question — it’s why we’re here. These human experiences are what connect us all. Rise to the occasion, feel something, get uncomfortable.