Thursday, June 23, 2016

About That Person Who Said, "Life is Easy"

It is said about the course of history that there always comes a time when an event, however seemingly insignificant at the time, determines the eventual direction of an outcome. And in the course of enervating election campaigns, critical national referendums, hugely consequential law suits, portentous parliamentary debates et al, it can be said that there always is a public expectation that such an 'earth-shattering', 'game-changing' event is nigh.

It is almost a comment on the evolution of modern society; the much maligned study of instant gratification and its causes, for instance, or the seasonally popular debate on the FoMo (Fear of Missing Out) crisis spreading in an increasingly social media-reliant world. It goes without saying that sometimes these events are actively scripted by the parties involved - a couple of hours spent on that seminal Barry Levinson movie, 'Wag the Dog' (1997) should suffice to illustrate, accompanied by a bewitchingly becalming soundtrack, how these kinds of things could come about.

But are we now seeing the Dawn of an Age of the perpetual anti-climax in relation to our sense about the expected timing of these revelations in the natural order of our lives?
No one expected the events of 9/11 to transpire when they did, surely. They came at a time when public apathy to calamities in the Third World and the environment, to a sense of community participation, to the inequalities and suffering of peoples far removed from our social and economic spheres of influence was at an all-time high, and when music evoking a spirit of nihilism influenced a generation of all-too-eager escapists. But the social upheavals we are seeing right now have only a marginal relation to the events, and the repercussions to the events, of 9/11, even though they seem to occupy a before-and-after kind of epoch-like social significance in the understanding of the modern world. Pandemics have occurred, and were tackled at the time by governments and researchers, long before we discovered their propensity to traverse time-zones and affect the fates of millions of people not immediately responsible for their advent. Innumerable refugee crises followed history-altering changes in the societies of people whose names we still cannot pronounce. Drought, floods, dictator-driven pogroms, and genocide have been happening ever since the dawn of time and continue to happen today.

Why do we only see the significance of these events in relation to our unique place in the history of the world today? Are we becoming a more democratic, less spiritually-distant, more community-oriented, and - dare I say it - less apathetic species with our unparalleled inter-connectivity, our multi-faceted grassroots activism, our ecologically-inspired convictions about leading relatively less-wasteful lives today? Are we finally seeing that every little thing that happens to the least of us, somewhere far away from our immediate orbit, in a distant land, among those with only the most rudimentary of symbolic connections to our own lives, is something that happens to all of us 'here and now' too? Is it possible to ignore the cynicism of daily political discourse, the 'reality' of things as politicians of a certain persuasion are fond of saying, the very real and frightening prospect of large-scale temporary unemployment, and persevere in the search for a new and authentic leadership that courageously faces the naysayers of the world with an absolute conviction about the validity of our tryst with the global community, our pact with the natural world, and our belief in the common good?

Is it possible that all the tools we need to spark the event we have all been waiting for are already at hand, and that all it will take to change our world is to believe that we actually can?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Shape of It

There are warning signs. There always are.

A pattern is slowly established from innocuous occurrences that build up frustration at things that you would otherwise regard as the natural wages of living - inadequacies on a professional or familial or personal level, disappointments at the pace and progress of life, the expressed troubles of members of the family unit that have nothing to do with you but that you tend to view subjectively, as if it is a personal failure of some kind that's being superimposed on the other.
This is most often followed by an unconscious preparation - chores that are left undone until the last possible minute, inane things that distract the mind from what's coming.

And then it inexorably hits; first as an explosion that is often directed at the original source of the frustration that was its first herald, and then the revelatory aftermath that redirects at yourself the realisation that it has, indeed, struck again and is determining the course of your life independent of the will.
It is always a submission then; at the self-pity, the rage at historical slights, and always, always, at the razor-sharp focus on the inadequacy of others - how they are perceived to have let you down, how they could have prevented that letting down from happening, that they could have so easily been better: parents, siblings, relatives, friends, managers, colleagues, other human beings that you had actually met too briefly to impose such a world of responsibility for your current fate on. (So yes, it does take on the qualities of a grand fiction for a time.)

The submission is total; it clouds everything. A television show that's on only to shame you into remembering that that writer, director, producer, actor could have indeed been you and that you have failed to take advantage of the opportunities that came your way. A book whose every sentence is reminding you that you did not write that still-born tome of yours and that you would have, if only you had expended the effort at the chance when it arose. The customer service attendant at the service station, newsagent, liquor store, or supermarket reminding you of how hard she's working when you're totally slacking off and mired in self-pity at the fact that you're so totally slacking off.

Communication with loved ones becomes a tiring exercise in camouflage - feigning interest in what they're talking about, their trials and successes, their failures and hopes, when all you can think about is how whatever they're telling you reflects on you.

It is a monster of perception excess. It is monumental scrutiny of the subjective. It is a microphone and a stethoscope and a camera and a mirror focused wholly on you, picking up all the minutiae of the parts of you that you that are the most vulnerable and showing it straight back to you without the benefit of a space-time analytic distance. It is a relentless cycle. The body feels weak, the mind shackled, the day long, the air thin... Until all you can do is wish and will and pray and plead for it to be gone, to go back from whence it came, to disappear just as organically as it diabolically appeared, to rise and leave you and not look back at your quivering, sniveling, pathetic self when it does.

And then you wake up, sometimes days, weeks, months, years since you began to think of your life in this way, and it is not there.