On Monday I came across this blog post written by Josh Ellis. I usually don’t read beyond the first paragraph of most of what is shared on my social media feeds these days. Online content is either too boring and bland that it quietly fades into the background hum of internet white noise or it’s so obviously brash and abrasive that I give up on trying to find the human intent behind the loud-mouthed and mostly biased opinions often exaggerated by unprocessed emotional eruptions.
Ellis’ piece was neither. I read it, right through to the end. And it felt like I was sitting listening to a friend. A friend who in every way feels, who is in every way human and who is grappling with the very things that “we” all know so well.
And there were emotions. I felt them as he poured them out. And it felt like such a relief to finally read something real like that. But I worried, as I read it for the second time, whether this kind of thing can cause someone to really lose their will to live. I mean, there are very depressed people out there and reading something like this could send them over the edge. It made me think of that MGMT song, the lyrics go something like “if you’re conscious you must be depressed or at least cynical”. I’ve always liked that line. Perhaps depression or at least cynicism is a healthy symptom of a conscious mind?
I am searching for the meaning. I am trying to find the reason, the reason this level of awareness should be sought and then a reason to go on living. I think for many, the reason for life is life. And that’s enough. But there is always more. I want to share with you the thoughts I have and why I am still grateful to be part of this fucked up human race.
So yes, there are the wars and the politics, there is Kim K and there is consumerism, there is no good music and no original movies. It is so easy to find multiple copies of meaningless everything wherever you go:
“What matters now is that you’re endlessly capable of the hustle, of bringing in that long green, of being entertaining to enough people that somebody will want to give you money or fuck you or fund your startup. We’re all sharks now; if we stop swimming for just a little too long, we die. We lose followers. We’re lame. We’re not worth funding, or fucking. Because all that matters is the endless churn, the endless parade, the endless cycle of buying and trying to sell and being bought and sold by people who tell you that they’re your friends, man, not like those others.”
But I don’t believe that “Education doesn’t matter, not even on paper. Being ethical doesn’t matter. Being a good person doesn’t matter”. Because you see, Mr Ellis, I come from Africa. I do not want to speak out of turn and so I will not force any USA vs South Africa comparisons here, but I know that I have seen the power of human connection, human triumph, human courage, and human suffering. And I know that when you step away from the screen and look into the face of a person, a true person who is able to connect with their humanity still (perhaps only found in Africa I don’t know), then you will know that education matters, that integrity matters and that all we have left in this corrupt, soul-destroying world is our hope as you put it and our own sense of ourselves as good and connected to each other and to all things.
So if you want to know what the antidote is to this technologically corrupted, robotic, consumerist world we inhabit – it’s the moments. It’s a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s the look on your dog’s face when you return home in the evening. It’s the sound of your baby’s first giggle. It’s the creases in your lover’s eyes when he/she smiles. It’s that first step, that last day of school, that kiss hello, and that wave goodbye. It’s all of the moments that we share with the others, that no visa card can pay for. And yes they’ve made adverts that suck up all this pure, innocent goodness but that’s okay too because it doesn’t take away from those moments when they happen in real time.
I think that Christopher McCandless said it best in Krakauer’s ‘Into the Wild’:
“Happiness [is] only real when shared.”
So as you can tell I am not exactly jumping up in righteous indignation and joining you in plotting against the super evil powers that control the world and make all this shit go around in our heads until we feel like jumping off the nearest high rise. I guess I am just not that much of an anarchist. But that is not because I don’t believe in fighting for one’s rights. If there was ever a time to fight for our freedom it is now, it is always now. But I guess I am still grateful that they can’t take away my moments. Perhaps this is because I am too privileged to really feel the effects of this unjust world. Be that as it may, this is Gratitude Wednesday after all…