I guess you could say we are living in a strange time. I mean - that's the buzz anyway. Everywhere you turn around there seems to be someone or some platform shouting from the rooftops that things are, well, fucked.
But I call bullshit on that.
Not that things aren't pretty weird right now, but honestly, when have they ever been "normal?" I try to imagine what people must have been thinking and feeling 100 years ago in the aftermath of World War One. Or in the 60s when our grandparents felt like society was going off the rails. I'm sure people must have felt helpless, confusion, and despair at times. So really, I don't think things are all that different than they have ever been, at the core of things. Sure, technology has completely changed how we see and experience the world, but I'm not all that convinced that humans have changed so dramatically. But here are some things that have caught my attention.
I have noticed a pathological tendency to do the easier thing. Sure, there's the old adage "work smarter not harder" - but I don't think that should ever apply to critical thinking. There is a lot of divisiveness right now - which I personally think is a not coincidence. There is also a lot of fear. Again - not a coincidence. How do you get people to do what you want? Make them scared and then make them pick a side. It's been done since the beginning of civilization. Just rewind and take a peek at who makes the rules and for what end. Religion was (and is) a big one. Implant the fear of the Almighty into the masses and you can bend them to your will. And that's just the first one that comes to mind. Fear = control. Tell people what to think and what to fear and then they will line up like sheep in order to stay safe. If someone tells you what to believe, then you don't have to figure it out for yourself.
Look at the topics that currently reign the airwaves and interwebs: climate, gun control, the healthcare system, the economy, politics, gas prices, actual war....and I could keep going. People are naturally going to fall on different sides of the coin regarding all of these topics. What I've noticed is fewer people thinking for themselves, and more parroting of bylines. A reluctance to venture out of your thought comfort zone for fear (<--- there it is again) of potentially having to actually examine why you believe what you believe.
***** Well I just did the rookiest of rookie moves. Didn't save my changes, navigated off this page, and lost a ton of writing. I am choosing to interpret this to save those topics to delve into another time and to get to what I really wanted to share.*********
How could your outlook not be bleak if that is what you focus on day in and day out? These doomsday scenarios that are forced into our homes through our televisions and our phones, they cause emotional and physical responses. Think about that stuff all day long, watch whatever 24-hour-news tragedy feed, and you will start to think - what is the point? Why are we even here? I know I'm not alone in thinking this.
So I was sitting outside drinking coffee the other day, working on one of my projects, and I realized I hadn't thought about ANY of that shit for hours. None of it. I realized that during that time I was fully present. In the moment. Not thinking about the past, or the future, just existing with purpose in that second. And things felt good. They were good. They ARE good.
Eckhart Tolle talks about this in his book The Power of Now, but I never really experienced it before. Or, more accurately, I never was conscious of experiencing it. But I have been there, hundreds of times, when I'm engrossed in creating something. Or reading a great book. Or enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee. It doesn't have to be a momentous thing. It could be vacuuming the dog hair off your couch while you listen to music and shake your booty a little. Find something. Something little or something big. Pour your heart into it and your mind will follow.
Mary Oliver is often quoted for her words "tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Well, what is it? Are you going to sit around scrolling through feeds of other folks' lives? Are you going to stay holed up in your home for "safety?" Are you going to believe all this stuff is out there to get you, or are you going to actually LIVE your life. Because spoiler alert: everyone's dying y'all. We are all heading toward the same destination. It just matters how you get there.
If you zoom out to the situation of your town, city, state, country, the entire planet, you are going to get overwhelmed. It's going to feel bleak. Pointless maybe. Because how can you possibly change any of that big stuff out there? So don't do it. Focus your energy and care on your own tiny little sphere. Zoom in. This might seem like putting your head in the sand and pretending the bad things aren't happening. But it's not. Acknowledge their existence, but don't make that the forefront of your thoughts. Why do that? To what end? If you spend all your time thinking about what's fucked up about the world, what - really what - is the point of being alive? So zoom in. Make your own moment better. I really believe that will change the world. At least it will change your world. And that's all you have.
"Everything is more beautiful because we are doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again."
~ Homer (The Iliad)