Warning: This is a long post that gets a little deeper into my head than some may wish to go. The tl;dr is I read something on another blog that got me thinking and kind of tied a bow around everything I’m doing. And I decided to write about it. Feel free to skip the rest.
Still here? Good. Let’s follow the white rabbit down that hole.
“Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you will die tomorrow.”
I saw those words on Mike Rogers blog and was deeply moved by them, especially given the context under which they were written. I suggest giving it a read. As the father of an (almost) seven year old son myself (as well as two beautiful daughters), I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to explain that little boy’s death to his son, even while the event was bringing up so many memories from his own past.
But the quote above sort of reaffirmed for me everything I already knew, but for the past few years have been too afraid to act on. To wit:
Life is short, even when it’s not.
Even if you plan on living forever, you never know when the end will come. If I was to die today in some freak accident would I be satisfied with the current state of my life?
The answer to that question is the whole reason for what I am doing.
“Know your conscience and live according to it. Know your passion and focus on achieving it.”
I wrote that about a month ago as a statement of goals. That is not how I have lived my life for the past 5 or 6 years. For about that long I have existed in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance. Some who believe as I do are able to live in that state indefinitely. I am not.
Suspension of Disbelief
There is a term used by fiction writers (especially science fiction and fantasy writers) to describe the state of mind their readers must adopt to really get into their stories. It involves discarding ones own view of reality in favor of the “reality” the author describes in his stories. We all know that Ogres and Dragons and Time Travel and so on don’t exist in the real world. But when we read a book or watch a movie, we suspend our disbelief, and are then able to fully enjoy the story.
But what if you couldn’t just put down the book, or stop the movie? What if you woke up every day and had to suspend your disbelief all day long, forever. Imagine you discover that your lifestyle actually helps the author maintain this fiction?
What would you do if you discovered that your lifestyle, and that of nearly all of your fellow citizens, is the foundation on which rests the biggest lie of all time? And every advertisement, every stirring political speech, every news story, every debate is built, molded and framed to support this big lie.
That was the problem I faced and the lie essentially boiled down to “You need us.”
The reality is exactly the opposite: They need us.
They need us to pay for their Wars and conquests, They need us to bail out their banks, They need us to subsidize their favored industries, they need us to consume consume consume, and they need us to remain dependant on them for everything from the education of our children to the care of our grandparents. And above all they NEED us to sanction their existence with our participation in their fiction. Get out the Vote!
I will not participate any longer.
I will find another way to live, a better way. That is why I am doing this. (TLG has her own reasons of course…)
There is no spoon
In one of my favorite scenes from the Matrix (a movie rife with anti-establishment metaphor) Neo visits “The Oracle” to find out if he is “The One.” There he meets a boy who appears to be bending a spoon with his thoughts. The boy hands the spoon over to Neo:
“Do not try to bend the spoon,” he says. “That’s impossible. Only try to realize the truth.”
“What truth?” asks Neo.
“There is no spoon.”
Neo looks doubtfully at the spoon, which he is clearly holding. “There is no spoon?”
The boy continues: “Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends; it is only yourself.”
The epiphany I had was when I realized that the objects of my frustration did not actually exist. There is no state, there are no corporations. There are only individuals, and individual action. Those fictional entities exist only because people believe that they do.
When you say you want to change the system from within you are trying to bend the spoon by force of will. But you can’t. Because the truth remains; there is no spoon.
Instead the change must come from within. You have to change yourself. Stop participating. Ignore them. Live your life in such a way as to minimize their impact. By doing so you set an example for others to follow, and there-by weaken the illusion.
That is my ultimate aim. If I can achieve that, if I can set such an example, then I can face the Grim Reaper with a smile, because I will be proud of the way I have lived.