In the framework of hopepunk, it’s neither. “Hopepunk is a radical call to arms for us to imagine better,” Slack said. “To embrace the fact that fantasy is not simply an escape from the world but an invitation to go deeper into it. That we must fall in love with the world that we so deeply wish to change.” Instead, he argues that love may be beautiful, but it’s also messy and painful, and far from being naive, it’s a conscious, hard-won and fully self-aware choice.
I think this not only sounds good, but is in and of itsself a good indication as to why #hope and #empathy aren’t just insipid concepts of naive “treehugger”-types. But a bold statement AND a political action against the all emcompassing sinistry of the powers that be, that never tire to shove hopelessness down our throats. Well, not on my watch!
A longish, very deep, but all the more worthwhile read by Zat Rana over at Medium.com discussing the questions of – personal, but not necessarily limited to the first – purpose and meaning. In my own quest to reposition myself/my self in this world after having experienced approximately two thirds of (statistical) a male’s life span in the Western world, I can strongly sympathize with his thought process and suggestions, albeit at the price of – ever increasing – existential angst, the latter of which has a gruesome grip on me for just about an entire decade now. So, read at your own discretion and best judgement in terms of its effects on your own state of (well) being.
I think, Umair just nailed it there! This is me to a T – and for the past ten, going on 11+ years now! Next to the world being in utter, possibly historically unprecedented turmoil, the personal battles, letdowns, strikedowns and countless times of needing to pull myself up by the bootstraps as they say wore me out so thoroughly that I indeed do little more than sleep, eat, evacuate, shower, all that interspersed with minor distractions of the likes of this blog, the social media profiles I’m – reluctantly! – still active on, then do the same thing the next day, all day, every day – for 10 years in a row now, making this an unworthy existence of 3,650 days of agony. It’s not so much that I couldn’t think of something more worthwhile. But whenever I do, I can’t helpl but wonder to what end I’d rise above my own set of some-not-so-minor challenges, if in the end it all comes out the same as in: Making no difference?
People reading this blog may come under the impression that I was the natural born whiner. I can reassure – I’m not for the mere fact of still being here. And I can confidently attest to having grown beyond whatever burdens I had been lugging around since almost birth – or most likely exactly since then – and having met life’s challenges head on, often with an almost stubborn approach of sinking my teeth into whatever situation I was met with. Again, I can reassure you that I can go for the long haul – and have. But just like Umair details in his beautiful, yet also devastating write-up, at some point our human resources and resourcefulness might just get exhausted and all burnt from needing to employ them on a regular basis. I don’t think this is a free pass to giving up or any such thing. If anything – to me and IMHO – this piece of writing proves one thing: How this gentleman and anyone, whom this piece resonates with, have preserved their humanity in the face of blatant disregard for any of the – basic and advanced – needs that are simply a natural given in our species! In other words, whoever manages to stay carefree at times, when the collapse of our very foundation hits you in the face 24/7, certainly shows indications of a serious disorder of some kind – as can be seen in the powers that be at this time in history (and unfortunately leading up to today just as much, with one critical difference: Whatever hegemon ruled in pre-modern times, when they went down, they didn’t take the rest of the world down with them!)
This may not exactly be your cheerful, “positive” – which is often code for “mindless” in my book – way of greeting the New Year. But it’s an honest one. All I got left was being honest, at whatever expense it may come, though. Here’s to finding ways of contributing to the wellbeing of yourself, your partner, neighbor, your community – and ultimately the world at large.
Unfortunately, above article is written in German as it appeared in a publication where I live and come from. In a nutshell, it describes the dynamics in (emotionally) dysfunctional families – like mine. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they publish this on Christmas Day – of all possible other days in the year. Christmas, after all, is a holiday that sees families come together as one, most often at their parents’ home. However, there are those like me who need to put as much distance between themselves and their bio family for reasons of self protection and – ultimately – for reasons of getting a chance to heal.
It is a bit of a lengthy article for me to translate myself, so I can only hope that Google Translation service can make sense of it as it nails the unhealthy interactions in emotionally dysfunctional and repressive families to a T as far as I’m concerned and telling from half a century of personal experience with that (not to mention countless ill-conceived and unproductive therapy scenarios that ranged from “waste of time” to personal “ground zero” and getting retraumatized in the process). I do remember a moment – I believe it was some time in 2008 – that I let my sister know that I would see to a restraining order should home folks dare to contact me against my express wish not to. Events leading up to this position included shenanigans like e.g. claiming they had placed a missing person report with police in my area and claiming to have overheard me on my mobile phone that had somewhat miraculously switched itsself on while safely resting in my vest’s chest pocket with no pressure whatsoever on the keys and additionally secured by a mechanism that would require two non-adjacent keys to be pressed at the same time to unlock the keyboard. While I admit that it isn’t entirely impossible for this to happen, after careful consideration and trying to assess the likelihood of such a thing to happen, I must conclude that they had lied to me about that missing person’s report. To be safe, I called local police and inquired as to whether or not they such a report and whether anyone was looking for me. Very unsurprising it turned out that no such report had been placed, not with the local nor any of the nearby police stations. I believe it was then that I decided “enough is enough” and told my sister, whom they always involved in such trickery, that she had better gotten the message across to them that I no longer wished them to contact or monitor me in such ways. Revisiting that moment, it is blatantly embarrassing to see the degree of dysfunction becoming apparent in those actions…
In any case… reading that above linked article, sadly I have to conclude I’m one of those children who need to have as much distance between themselves and their bio folks for no other reason than to protect those bits and pieces of one’s personality that went somewhat unharmed or less tampered with. I guess, I had known this about 10 going on 12 years ago, but it apparently took another decade to fully sink in. If only I knew where to go from here. It often feels as if I had exhausted all my options.
Wow, wow and then some! This article details the effects that certain mediating processes found in the new school of epigenetics has on no less than 14 (!) subsequent generations of biological offsprings! It is not an easy read, admitted, as it sports many technical terms that aren’t exactly part of the mainstream vocabulary, even not for the inclined reader. However, as far as I was able to follow and make sense from this, the bottomline seems to be that latest research proved that a) genetic inheritance is not the be all and end all in any individual human’s life as previously and notoriously reported and reasserted through repeated academic papers and research, but quite the opposite, that b) biographical experiences and/or personal lifestyle mandates as to whether certain “gene configurations fire or not” (my own paraphrase, their words are “Genes Load the Gun, Environment Pulls the Trigger “).
I had been previously familiar with an also fairly new finding a few years ago that found markers in the genetic material of trauma survivors being passed down to offsprings and basically meaning that said offsprings were more likely in expressing PTSD due to their genetic make. So nothing new on that front regarding above linked article. However, the new aspect layed out here is such that current choices in lifestyle and experiences do have a high impact on the fact whether or not said DNA markers are actually being expressed or not. And in addition to that, another new aspect is that general genetic information is not exclusively encoded in sperm and egg cells present at gestation, but can and is being passed down via somatic (“body”) cells as well!
The implications from these new findings couldn’t be any more staggering as well as far reaching as they actually say that each of our choices in our individual lives, like the kind of diet we prefer (healthy or not), physically working out or not, getting enough and good sleep etc. etc., will have an effect on our offsprings should we choose to reproduce!
But see for yourself and draw your own conclusions of so inclined – and if I haven’t mentioned too many spoilers, that is….
Here’s a bit of an update on the legality of MDMA in the UK and its potential benefits in the context of treating psychiatric disorders. Currently Maps.org are conducting a larger round of phase 3 clinical trials determining the benefits of MDMA-assisted therapy in patients suffering from (C-) PTSD. Their numbers so far have been very impressive and seem to encourage the hopes introducing MDMA-assisted therapy as a standard treatment modality some time in 2021. (update: Here’s a similar article highlighthing MDMA’s therapeutic potential and also sporting a short video with Rick Doblin, one of the founders of and head researches with MAPS.org: urle.me/5Hk)
Here’s another one of those continually great reads over at Medium.com, this time by Harry J. Stead and on finding your bliss and the latter I presume as a vehicle to giving your life meaning (or rather find it).
As delicious as this reads, as of late I’ve been wondering ever more often where my place in life might be. For it doesn’t feel as if I had found it in more than half a century of being on this planet. Some of what the article recounts resonates with me as I have experienced those moments of peaceful introspection and reflection, usually when seeking out a quiet place somewhere next to a lake or another beautiful, solitary place somewhere outside. Especially solitude has become a more or less constant and questionably dependable companion of mine, however at the price of occasional loneliness. And the loneliness is not so much from a lack of opportunities to socialize – although it has become hard for me to socialize given my current precarious material situation -, but rather from almost never resonating with anyone any more. When I say resonate, I’m talking about this moment when you share something personal with a confidant and you and them are in accord over some personal experience and the feelings that resulted from it. In retrospect, I wonder whether I have ever really experienced this moment with anyone at all or whether the first was a fabrication of my mind to begin with, something I made myself believe in, because I had heard about it so many times. From where I’m standing now my life looks and feels like a path that was and is inevitably associated with even abject loneliness and the latter for the observation of my own positions on just about anything being so far removed from what you’d call the mainstream that I can’t help but repeatedly wonder, wether I have ever “landed” in life at all. Most often I get the feeling that pretty much everything turned left from the get-go – and the harder I try to close ranks with said mainstream the farther away I get repelled from the it. Or so it feels.
I’ve done my fair share of introspection and analysis again over the course of the past ten, going on eleven, twelve years and that coming from a series of major disruptions to that part of my life you might call adulthood, the productive years, my career, whatever name you’re most comfortable with. As a matter of fact, those disruptions have accumulated to the point of turning out to be a complete show stopper where they concern those parameters that Western societies seem to base their identity on as far as the individual is concerned: A solid education leading up to a stable, ideally well paid job, a career path, your package of insurances, a home, transportation, clothes, your annual vacation, maybe a partner or family, some savings in the bank etc. etc. I’ve done all of it except starting a family or buying or building my own home and I’ve gotten quite a bit of ways with some of those aspects – or so I thought. I followed the paradigm that most people still follow or believe in, i.e. if you work hard and diligently you’ll eventually reap the harvest of the seeds you sowed, be it through enjoying a comfortable lifestyle and/or getting to maintain your standard of living in your later years. I was oblivious to the fragility of those cornerstones and how little it actually takes to have it all taken from you no matter how hard you try hanging on to any of it.
Now that this catharsis has taken place, I’ve been in limbo for far too long, desperately looking for even the tiniest glimpse of a new path I’d find worthwhile embarking on or a new passion to rekindle and fuel the flame of faith in me and derive some new courage from. It – just – never – happened. Most days I feel as if everything I was ever meant to experience has already taken place in my younger years and that all meaningful encounters and experiences are already behind me with no sight of anything of that nature ever to occur again. That is one scary place to be in, let me tell you! Is this what they call the Dark Night Of The Soul? In digesting the linked article I surely find Joseph Campbell’s statement to resonate the strongest, thus coming full circle with Harry J. Stead’s article: “Suddenly you’re ripped into being alive. And life is pain, and life is suffering, and life is horror, but my god you’re alive and it’s spectacular.” ~ Joseph Campbell. Yup, I’m certainly feeling the pain, the suffering and more importantly and prominently the horror and in particular the mere horror of being provided with a reflecting consciousness (not sure about any of it being or feeling “spectacular”, but rather like an ongoing, neverending drag…). As a matter of fact, the latter part of Campbell’s aphorism pretty much captures the basic feel to life I’ve been feeling all along. Don’t get me wrong: While I can’t say that I was impartial to some solitude, reflection, introspection and the sense of calm and sometimes consolation and comfort it may bring, I’m also quite fond of communicating and sharing the harvest of those journeys into the self with someone who is willing to learn about them. Or hearing theirs. I’m talking about meaningful connection and … well… resonance. As of late, I seem to go without the latter, finding myself removed from the quests of others more often than not.
And while in earlier years that spiritual solitude was often attenuated by way of books or music and most importantly a sense of curiosity about the unknown lands I forayed into, it now often feels as if there wasn’t anything new to discover any more or as if I had completed my soul searching for myself. Again… a very scary place to be in for it feels like a cul-de-sac, a dead end. And as the wording implies, some sense of death is associated with this place for if the spirit is no longer attuned to the light within all life …., all searching, all aspirations come to a complete halt. At least that is what it feels like to me as of late.
I’m fearing that this is what a death of the soul or of spirit may be like: A complete loss of any direction, any orientation, any goal or even faintly perceived yearning, a kind of non-being, at least spiritually speaking. And the scariest part of this is that I have not the slightest clue as to whether this is a transitory state or the final conclusion of all I have been in, around and through.
I don’t remember having ever employed a routine of praying or more or less rigorous meditation. But lately I find myself praying for something, someone to reinstill some life in me and with that hopefully a sense of connection again.
To be in Big Sur is to be touched by water, to deeply feel our liquid body and the community of this larger water-body that we live in each moment. Here, we participate in a fluid and animate world while knowing our ancient belonging. This watery foundation is a fertile bed for the many seeds, the tending, weeding, blossoming, and fruition of all that Esalen has brought forth and will bring forth into each individual and our collective, ever-changing world.
– Steven Harper, 2016 Photos by Emma Barry
I don’t think I’ll ever understand the brutality of it: Life. I don’t – no longer – think, I’ll ever be – or can be, actually – comfortable nor living with a sense of innocence. Not even get half-fixed, to be brutally (!) honest. Ayee! My luck.