We cried in bitter anguish, we cried in utter bliss. We felt the devils anger, and the sweetness of a kiss. We meditated for so many years. Had therapists and many tears. We got drunk on beer and wine and whiskey and vodka and life. We got high, and we got low. We felt the heat and the ice.
We got sober. We ran away. We found the fields and the jungle and mountains and the cave. We drank the wicked brew and saw our lives break open. We travelled the world across land and ocean. We learned to be mindful, we learned to be still. We learned to forgive, just a little.
We did so much. And how we tried. And how we cried. We cut. We loved. We fucked. We sunk in to the ocean. We danced among the stars. We lied and we cheated, we collected many scars.
We tried to make things right. We tried to be good. We tried to live up to the expectations of others the best we could. We tried not to care. We tried to conform. We tried to be free. We tried to just be.
We tried to find the answers but we didn’t know the questions. We tried to find our way but we didn’t have directions. We sought protection from the world but we had no protection from ourselves. We were our worst enemies, not anybody else.
We tried to find god or spirit or love or nature or ecstasy or something. Anything, bigger and greater than ourselves and our parents and our education and our politicians and our culture and our society. Something to hold on to. Just something we could cherish and belong to. Something worth living for.
We never stopped searching. We kept on believing tomorrow might just be worth living an extra day for. But tomorrow never came. It’s still always today. And I’m still me and you’re still you. And we still want to change but we don’t know what to do. We still wish we were someone else. We’re still waiting to be saved.
When will this stop? When will this end? When will we get there? Does ’there’ even exist?
After all these years we’re still broken. Perhaps it’s unspoken, perhaps it’s not quite so much as before, but we’re still, frustratingly, achingly sore.
We still hate ourselves. We still feel weak. We still lack power when we speak. We still dream big, but our doubt is bigger. Too scared to try to actualise dreams, still scarred by painful memories of previous failures. Too self aware. Too hurt to care. Too clever but not quite clever enough. Too intimate with our minds and our flaws. Still unable to open doors.
Still unable to love. Still jealous. Still children, still seeking approval. We try and fail to be grown up. Trying and failing to be a success. Confused as ever about what we want from life, and still no clearer what any of this is for.
But there is no ‘off’ button, and we will go on. Learning, sharing, hoping, daring. Giving up, trying again, holding on, letting go. Finding ourselves, while getting lost.
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.