Collective human recovery is central to sustainable and productive revolution. By recovery, I am referring to a process of reclamation and renewal. The bloom on frostbitten stalk, the long walk home with the dog on a leash, a boxer shaking off the stumbles and sweat, standing to fight. I am not talking about compliance, I am talking about the will to live.
It seems to me, as a participant in the human community, that the ill effects of corporatocratic culture and economy have diminished our quality of life to the extent that said quality has itself been renegotiated, inflated with false value and yet with a core integrity that is substantially insulted.
It does not require any sort of genius to determine that people are struggling. If they are not actively grappling with some wretched constellation of facts and fictions and circumstances that has come to characterize their present life, if they are quiet and subdued, smiling blandly at screens and becoming dully excited by the prospect of food and games, if they choose to happily uphold the status quo reality, which is increasingly becoming a little scattered, as the real realities push their way through the gaps in truth and photograph, scandal and evidence…well, regardless of the details, people are struggling, because facades fall hard when times get tough and the troubles of the world are tremendous.
It’s going to be a very cold winter. Or maybe it won’t. Again, either way, the heat’s going to be on.
The really wonderful thing about the coming concept-apocalypse of consensus reality – at every conceivable strata – is that when people’s worlds fall apart they will have a chance to re-evaluate what is really important and what is most lasting and inspiring to their hearts. Many people will not realize this opportunity and will destroy themselves bemoaning their real and imagined losses.
Does it seem that people have come to think about genuine joy and happiness as something that only occurs a few times during one’s life? Is true happiness a pleasure reserved for the idealist childhood, babies, and birthday surprises?
Pointless Community College Philosophy Question: Is it then true happiness?
It seems that, once you’re an adult, you are afforded the luxury of happiness only in regimented and defined doses. The birth of a child, coming home after many years, a wedding or a graduation, a…new car? A big screen television…?
Those things do not make us lastingly happy. Research shows that the happiness generated by buying large technology is, though real, misguided and relatively fleeting. It has been shown that people achieve happiness when they are engaged in a meaningful activity that is in service to something bigger than they are, that makes use of their unique human strengths and offers them ample challenge to promote growth and refinement.
Relatedly, research shows that core value conflicts are a primary source of human distress (causing all manner of unpleasant and hindering effects). It seems reasonable to think that in order for functional human happiness to be achieved, one would have to engage in meaningful benevolent work of personal relevance and integrity that was in alignment with their identified values.
(Keep in mind, most people do not know what their values are. Sometimes, what people think their values are actually conflicts with their actual values. An example of this is valuing human rights and simultaneously supporting war, or believing in equality, but contributing to the world in a way that perpetuates inequality, either by direct action or attitude. Most people have at least a few of these value inconsistencies. It’s completely normal. Of course it’s normal in modern America to be willing to live in a way that you see is empty, harmful, and insulting, a way that sneers and laughs at your best, most true self.
“How’d you get into this mess?”
These are questions people ask themselves. Usually they just blame themselves, or some other person they know, sometimes a bank or an industry. Other times, people blame an entire political party. Occassionally, people realize that it is the government that they need to blame…or is it the media…or maybe it’s WalMart and the Navy…?
Maybe it’s all of it.)
It’s so overwhelming. It’s just too much.
“I just wish I just didn’t have to think.”
This is something people say to themselves.
Shouldn’t we live in a world in which thinking is a pleasant and enjoyable activity? It seems unfortunate that the world is in such a state as to render thinking an act so grievous.
This is yet another way the illification of the modern world works. For those of us who pay attention, and who genuinely care for the world and would like very much for things to be better around here, well…it can be a bit much. It is hard to love a place and yet to be a member of the species which is wholly responsible for the epochal destruction we’ve seen in the past 100 years. It is hard to love a place and to participate in its destruction, or to honor humanity in your heart, but to be forced to demean humanity through violence and denial of rights.
In the roles we’ve been assigned in recent years, as consumers, fighters, criminals, victims, token heroes, and compliant sustainers of the profiteering machine, to be human can itself can be traumatic.
Add this generalized trauma, of living amidst the omnipresent threat of death and famine, the ever-looming evidence of mortality and human depravation, to the actual trauma of actions and conditions in real life – either through abuse, poverty, genocide, or disease…and, well, you’ve got a lot a lot of people who have been systematically and systemically denied their full humanity or have had said humanity manipulated and/or brutalized to the point of near non-recognition.
However, as many people have learned, there is opportunity in such bleak circumstances. If one’s life becomes unmanageable and unlivable – not only in the sense of suicidality, but also in the sense of simply not being able to feel actually and affirmedly alive in the context of one’s supposed life, or in finding oneself in a set of circumstances that literally deny you access to the resources and opportunities that may afford you a dignified and respected life as a member of the human species, there is the infinite and exciting possibility of rebuilding a better way for oneself, one which is more clear, more simple, more functionally true.
While humans have become adept at living lies, it is an undeniable human fact that we seek resolution, we seek truth. Of course, we are often misled by those we turn to for guidance. That is apparent. Nonetheless, many people continue to yearn for a solution, even if they are confused about what the problem is, or their hope is repressed in self-protection, because it can be painful to be hopeful in a world that can seem so very hopeless.
Most people are healing, from one thing or another. In this process, the world often becomes clear. We must consider what it is that we are healing from and why it may be that we were hurt in the first place. In recovering our self, we face the forces that have denied us legitimacy or sought to demean the value of our goodwill, intent, our time, and resources. We come to see clearly what has caused us to question the validity of our instincts and inclinations, the worth of our experience as living, breathing, thinking, feeling human beings.
In knowing the truth and understanding it in our own ways, we are liberated. For many people, when we fail to acknowledge the truth as we understand it (whether or not it is actually true, but especially if it might well be), we become ill…overwrought and underwhelmed by our own inefficacy in mustering the will to stand up for ourselves.
The modern western population has been discouraged from becoming acquainted with a key element of our shared humanity: the revolutionary heart.
I thoroughly believe that most everybody possesses the capacity to want to change the world for the better. This human impetus has been manipulated and diminished. It has, in many cases, been used against our collective human best interest. Our human instinct to defend what is right (not to mention our human right to have adequate and accurate information to make those determinations) has been affected by manifest fear and threat both real and conjured.
We have, in many cases been told that something very wrong is right, and in other cases, that things which are very right are wrong. We’ve gotten terribly confused.
This contributes to the malady of the human condition. More and more, it seems that our humanity is defined on the basis of criteria established by those with a distinct profit interest in maintaining a malleable consumer population, characterized by oppressed anger and pathologized grief. Any mental health professional will tell you that such things do not bode well for the psyche or the emotional reality. In fact, there is well-established evidence that core conflicts between self and role, between value and action, are at the root of many disordered or blighted human experiences. The deleterious effects of such conflicts are exacerbated when the conflict is forced, when we have no choice but to live in conflict with our hearts’ best interests.
When people recover, they often experience a sense of rebirth, a renewed faith in the worth and joy of simply living, a benevolence and generosity toward peers in the human community and aspirations to effect positive change in the world, often by the use of one’s own story to inspire or empower other people. Therefore, it seems to me that, in a world in which everyone is recovering from something, that there is potential for a vast human awakening, equality in equanimity regarding the simple tragic possibility that perhaps the way it was doesn’t have to be the way it always is. It hasn’t always been this way. There are many people who remember when living in the world didn’t feel like watching a trainwreck, when we really did believe that maybe things might be okay.
It seems like people have started to give up on things being okay. Rightfully so, as the trajectory is not promising.
Yet, in times such as these, when things do appear to be fractious and fragility becomes apparent, I think it is best to think about what the most favorable outcomes may be. It is possible that, as awareness increases, along with increased pressure and new opportunities for the source of the problem to become apparent, people will remember what it was that they wanted to live for and they will, in the grace found with new insight, realize the extent to which we have, in many cases, missed the point entirely.
Or…they stay home and watch television, just try to “do the best they can” every day and “be happy that things aren’t worse.”
Part 2 (yes, really, Part 2)
If the pages could be uncrumpled then they could be read.
They can’t though, they’re bound too tightly, under the pressure of hands and buried times.
You didn’t crumple your pages. You threw them into the ocean instead. When I think about how many pages of poetry and truth have been tossed into the waves, I want to cry.
Did she burn her words? Is that how she did it?
What happens, I wonder, when we destroy the words that we wrote with our whole hearts?
For better or for worse, I try to save all my words. They are breadcrumb and battle scar, home and away. I can’t imagine who I would be without them.
Who would I be without these words, without the tethers of a million letters, the shhh-shhh of syllable, the comforting weight of pages?
Would I be free or would I disappear? Is there a difference?
Most things that I’ve loved and lost, I’ve loved and lost through words.
Though that’s not really true. Most of the things that I’ve really loved, I didn’t have to have words for what I felt or why. I’ve loved without words. I’ve even had talks about this, the failure of the word love to remotely encompass the totality of unbridled appreciation that something exists, and the ways it is beautiful and uncomplicated in its existence.
When I think about love like that, I think about rivers, and I think about leaves, and the hollow bones of birds, the lightness that enables flight, the color of bachelors buttons. I think about my children’s feet…and their eyes…and the sound of their voices…and the smell of home.
Lightning bugs. Clouds.
How does all this fit together?
I’m not quite sure yet, but I’m sure it does. It has to. It’s everything I love.
There are things that I don’t love. They are vast and many. Usually these things are anti-love or counter-love, or they undermine love in some way. Usually they involve corporations, fascism, and fascist corporations or the hate-culture they’ve spawned.
(Sometimes, I get the idea that I’m not supposed to be thinking of such things. I’ve addressed this problem before, the conflict between mad logic and an age-old revolutionary heart and the expectations of modern motherhood in the lower-left strata of income and politics.
Note: The modern military scientific complex is the most rule-breaking and dangerous entity on the face of the earth. Ahem, splitting atoms and making bombs?
Yes, I’m talking about you, the ubiquitous you.
(That just an instance of the type of pseudo-surreal warp in communication that I employ as a pseudo-literary mechanism. Although it makes me sound somewhat paranoid, “Who the hell is she talking to?” – it does add an interesting element, in my opinion, anyway.
I’ve been very forthright about the fact that not really watching much media has led me to come up with other ways to keep myself entertained. Since I don’t really believe in “entertainment” – because it usually comes with a cost and isn’t that entertaining anyway – I just live my life in a way that is interesting to me.)
This does create some conflicts, because what I am interested in is a bit atypical as far as consensus reality is concerned. However, isn’t that to be expected? I mean, I am atypical. Thank God.
I’m also, given my atypicalities completely normal, even bland, considering the circumstances. I mean, really, I’m a vivacious-mild-mannered, moody, cunningly clever and yet earnestly clumsy mother of two that is trying to put my life back together after it fell apart…after I lost a lot and started to write and lost some more and ended up experiencing something that is documented to be rare and quite special. I told my mother, “Do you realize that people spend thousands of dollars and years and years to try to be in the state that I was in?”
I knew at the time that something quite grand and wreckingly illuminating had occurred in my heart and in my mind, reckoning with a cavalcade of belief and disbelief at war, smashing the mirrors and throwing rocks through the windows.
(Figuratively speaking, of course.)
There are relatively few people in the world that appreciate the sheer tenacity that it takes to be totally honest with oneself. I don’t have a choice. I can’t lie. If I do, I get anxious and sick-feeling.
This is not to say I’ve never lied, or that I never go back on something I said I’d do. I lied on my last psychological evaluation and ironically scored higher than average on measures of veracity. I left out two hospitalizations. Writing about the eval, I also lied about the reason I was getting the psychological eval. I made it sound like some fun thing I had the opportunity to do.
The real reason was that my child-custody was being threatened as a result of my mental health. This is not really a big secret. Part of the whole shenanigan was that it became something of a community affair. These things happen, when things get out of context, not out of control, but out of context. Anyway, as a precautionary measure, I decided to get evaluated.
The results were very interesting. Apparently, I was still smart. There was also information about how emotional processing in people with the particular measured* attributes I have can be very intense or irregular. That made sense to me. I think the way I think because I’m smart and I feel the way I feel because of the way that I am smart.
*(Measures which are of questionable construct validity, but that do measure something, though not in a way that is reliable or which indicates much about the nuanced subjective nature of our humanity.)
For the first time in a few years, I thought really hard about my mental health history. It had been distant. Then it came back and I began to realize what had happened.
In my grief, spurned by heavy losses of heart friends, I began to find solace in small things. Insects and shadows. Patterns. It was like a show unfolding, the world catching my eye with a praying mantis and a jumping spider, a rainbow, a storm, a sunset, a sunrise.
When I was younger, when I was sad, I’d go to the woods to grieve, or to the banks of the river. As I got older, I went for drives out into the county, across the river, to some other landscape.
In 2010, I could not go to the woods – for the knowing I would be called back, that I would not be able to walk as far as I needed without the children calling me and crashing through the sticks. I could not go for a drive, as I didn’t really have much place I could go that would be far enough. I wanted to go to the desert. I wanted to go to Madras.
I ended up grieving on my porch. It was not ideal, but it did prolong the grief process and keep me in one place. That was when I started noticing the magic of the world, largely because it is the hearts instinct to seek something beautiful to believe in when faced with a sudden emptiness in life.
My life actually was becoming quite full, and I was aware that as some things were falling away, like rocks from a cliff, that other things were rising up, the waves.
I knew all about waves. I grew up with a father who loved to surf.
“Everything here is connected.”
…sent from my handheld device…