One of the greatest motivations behind our behaviour, yet also one of the least spoken of, is our fear of the future. Despite being something so rarely discussed, this fear informs so much of what we think and do, and the fundamental ways in which we choose to live our lives. If we want to be free we cannot neglect to consider how this fear affects us, and how it can be alleviated.
There are many fears connected to a fear of the future: a fear of physical and mental degeneration, a fear of not having the financial resources to live a comfortable life after we stop working, and a fear of being lonely to name a few.
What’s interesting and slightly strange about this fear is that collectively we choose everyday to live by and exacerbate it. Woven in to the fabric of our society the myth that we can and should be financially independent fuels our insecurities about the future. We live and work from the premise that we are and always will be alone.
While striving for security we place both literal and metaphorical walls around ourselves. They do not serve to protect but to separate, further cementing the sense that we’re on our own. No man is an island, yet through our collective choices we are adrift in seas of separation.
Community can cure our fear of the future. Being in community reminds us that we really are and should be in this together. Living in community lessens or even sometimes negates the need for money, making accesssible what once was free but has since been monetised; things like childcare, care in older age or entertainment.
Sharing and exchange lessen the financial burden on us, as people with a range of skills and gifts can mutually provide all the things a community needs, from food to furniture. Expensive items that we all use from time to time only need to be purchased once. Need something? Borrow mine. In the future the favour shall be returned.
Community is an extension of family. In a world where we know we can depend on community now and in the future the less we are locked in to leading lives that do not fulfill. The more we live for the future the less we live for now, and there is after all, only now.
Assuming that happiness, freedom and a spirit of adventure lies ahead in the twilight of our lives is the great gamble, not living freely right now. People ask if it is crazy to give up what you are accustomed to in order to follow your dreams. I suggest it is crazy not to. As Joseph Campbell insisted, we all must ‘follow our bliss’, and a world in which we can depend on the community of our brothers and sisters provides the surroundings that allow us to do this.
This is not a fantasy, as much as the structure of mainstream culture by comparison may lead it to appear. People are already reaping such benefits, right now, all over the world, through their embrace of community and what we can do for each other, and consequently ourselves. What it takes to enact this is a simple choice, and conviction.
Do not fall for the pension paradox. Do not believe the illusion of scarcity that has been conjured before our eyes. A world in which we live for each other, not for ourselves, yet paradoxically can lead the lives we always wanted to, is possible.
You and I live on a giant rock hurtling through space. We used to be apes, and before that we were fish. Before that, we were tiny little gooey things that you can’t even see. And before that, we were stars. Isn’t all of this just a little bit strange? Aren’t I, and you, and all of us, and the fact that we are here at all, just the weirdest thing ever?
Contemplating this mystery does funny things to me. I don’t know whether to despair at the apparent meaningless of it all, or to marvel at the evolutionary thrust towards ever more complex and ingenious ways the universe has found to realise and understand itself.
It’s the same with my personal journey through this life; simultaneously a painful, existentially agonising, pointless, lonely existence to be endured until that sweet final breath, and yet somehow profound with meaning, connection, purpose, teleology, laughter, love, friendship, kindred spirits and divinity.
It seems this paradoxical nature of existence is woven in to the fabric of everything we know. It makes me question if we can ever know anything with certainty at all, or indeed if all so called ‘knowledge’ is merely the play of the mind, which through meditation is found out to be illusory in nature; an ever-changing and endlessly morphing cacophony of thoughts that are born into existence, fleetingly occupying our attention before dissolving into the nothingness from which they arrived.
Life is a mystery. Awakening to this mystery is at once deeply profound yet simultaneously disturbing. Take this hurtling through space lark. I mean what the hell is that about? Cause for a party or a reason to despair about what any of this is for? Is meaning inherent in all of this or is it completely devoid from the nature of existence, freeing us to create our own meaning in a maelstrom of competing and destructive perspectives that eschews the notion of anything absolute that could anchor us in stability or guide us through this maze.
Our predominating societal narrative attempts to create meaning for us, imposing a patronising, insulting and superficial set of values on us which surprisingly we tend to swallow whole in a gross act of violation we somehow gain extreme pleasure from. When I feel lost, I prefer, if it’s possible at the time, to remind myself that this crazy world is the play of mind, a projection on a massive scale of our personal and collective dreams, fears and unconscious motivations and desires. It is not however, what is truly real.
When we meditate, contemplate, are moved by music or art, ingest entheogens or somehow connect with something larger and deeper than ourselves we recognise and become free of that illusory play of mind. We realise that meaning was indeed inherent in everything all along after all, and—to quote Charles Eisenstein—that ‘more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible’ is here for us now and in the future if only we begin to enact it in our lives, and to live from that premise.
So this giant rock that we’re on, as ludicrous as it is, indicates that even the most unimaginable things do happen. So always have faith in the highest values you hold, and never settle for the mediocre unless it’s what you truly deeply desire. Because if the universe was interested in being mediocre we never would have had dinosaurs, infinite time and space, black holes, amoebas that one day turned in to Nobel prize winning scientists, and mushrooms that allow you to commune with God.
Contemplating the absurdity of existence invites us to attempt the impossible. Think about it, and do something amazing.