to infinite suffering, and beyond!
Well, my friends, we are almost at the end of an iconic year. So much has taken place that I don’t know where to begin summarizing it. So much was been lost, and much has also been won. But let’s not pretend it feels anything other than arduous, exhausting, and devastating.
There’s been so much change and upheaval in our personal, professional, and political situations it can be hard to know which direction we’re moving in. When the world places so much emphasis on progress, how do we know if we’re progressing?
I’ve been thinking recently about the notion of falling into place vs falling out of place. Implicit in these phrases is the idea of “a place” where things belong or should be, the right place. I’m curious about what knowledge we call on to know if something is in its right place or not, specifically when it comes to our lives and our mental/emotional/spiritual wellbeing. A lot of people have bucket lists, goals, and things we want to do or achieve or experience in our lives. Some of us even have time frames attached to them (oh, how long I’ve envied you, S.M.A.R.T. people).
What if, when things fall apart, apart is where they’re meant to be? And if we’re not buying the “meant to be” phrasing, then at least let’s consider the fact that we are creatures of infinite resilience – and stubbornness – living in a world of beauty and terror, in highly-evolved sociocultural-political-economic systems. Yet, within all the complex systems swirling around us, we still purport to maintain a sense of order? It is deeply resource-draining to be fighting for a stable state in the midst of so much chaos.
Sometimes, we need a break from our hard-headed pursuit of stability and perfection, in order to retrieve what really matters to us from the scattered remains of our curated stalemate. And we don’t even know it until it happens.
These feelings of helplessness, of loneliness, of creativity, of community, of longing, of fear; all of the feelings that have surfaced as 2020 has elapsed, collapsed, and relapsed, none of them are new. These feelings already existed in our world, in our carefully-ordered states of work and leisure. We just spent a long time pushing them to the edges, buoyed by conspicuous consumption and dopamine highs.
So now we can see the ruins of the world we’ve built together in full colour. What we see is finally what we get: immense loneliness all across our over-populated planet, delicate economies strung together by fragile flows of supply and demand, the rich getting richer while everyone else finds ourselves in the same melting pot of have-a-bits-and-have-nothings (but ironically unable to get a firm hold on anyone else, so ending up still feeling alone among the masses). And so. much. exhaustion.
As a species we have been running ourselves into the ground for centuries, extracting whatever meaningful labour we could from ourselves in order to maximize profit through the production of goods and services. While we have drained ourselves dry of joy and creativity through meaningless work, we have sought to rehydrate with a cocktail of consumption: shopping, movies, sporting events, gyms, bars, restaurants, theme parks, yoga studios, all of them our attempts to regain what we left on the production line or at our computer screens. Now those things have been taken from us, we’re forced to confront what our lives look like when all we have are production lines and computer screens. It should surprise none of us that we don’t like it at all…
And so while it really, truly sucks that so many of us are feeling cast-out and abandoned during the 2020 holidays, let’s not pretend that there hasn’t always been a swathe of society feeling this way. Loneliness, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and other psychosocial malaises had long been growing pre-COVID-19, and didn’t show signs of abating over December 2019 (during what we now know was the dawn of the pandemic).
Many more of us feeling this way this year might be what we’ve been needing to change the ways we live, work, connect, and show appreciation for each other and the world we share.
Yes, it has been a truly awful year and so many people are still in its throes. Let nothing you’ve read here minimize the suffering, despair, and grief that we have experienced collectively and individually.
It has been 70 years since the world experienced all-out war across its continents, our weaponry now too volatile to risk such high-stakes disputes. We have grown drunk on success, spin, and Silicon Valley. The pandemic has wreathed our planet in pain and disruption, and given us more reasons for compassion and contemplation than we have experienced in over a generation.
As we step boldly forth into a new era defined by the Great Conjunction of the solstice, as Jupiter and Saturn slip into Aquarius and we leave behind 200 years of Capricorn’s rigid hierarchies, outdated systems, and torrid selfishness, may we never forget how it felt to be here.