Being Humble

When I was in the midst of post-concussion syndrome,  in a state of constant anxiety when everything was fresh and horrible, I heard a man in Uxbridge library repeatedly saying in conversation: You must be humble before the Lord! You must be humble, you must be humble before the Lord!  In his voice, a mature African voice, it sounded much less preachy and much more powerfully elegant then the above may seem.

He was right. It is important to be humble. ‘The Lord’ I take to be the cosmos, Nature, the all-things I keep going on about, the Mystery, the indescribable and the greater-than-us. It has immense power to shatter our hubristic illusions. It can tear a person to pieces, however much they think they are powerful.

I was doing well – days were packed out with community garden volunteering, visiting friends and comrades, I had taken a pause in my therapy with no repercussions, vibrant social lyfe, you name it.

A single poorly cooked ingredient threw me completely off course; something so banal and simple. A night of food poisoning followed and I retched my guts out til they were completely empty. The days that followed threw me back into anxiety and no small amount of depression.

We are so frail. ‘We must be humble before the Lord…’

This isn’t a medical tale. It is about how a trigger can drop you back into the Pit, and it can be exceptionally bad because you have forgotten how shit it is.

Things like panic disorder can come back, even when it feels like you are completely fine.

This is also completely fine. The hard-to-deal-with thing will go away, and faster because you know how to deal with it. But it requires patience aplenty. And humbleness.

‘You must be humble before the Lord.’

Our society does contain the plea to humility. But it is also soaked with the following message: You need to appear on top of things, independent, successful and lively, at all times. You must not be humble before the Lord!

It is unhealthy, stupid and impossible. I have internalized this so much that even with conscious awareness of it, a few days out of action can throw me into the ‘secondary suffering’ which follows feelings of failure and uselessness.

I do feel a need to have some kind of lyfe and success, but this must be balanced with the brute realities of physical human capability and our deep frailty (particularly for those of us born with no silver spoon in our mouths, already disenfranchised and alienated from the system, without access to securities others in more privileged social categories might take for granted).

I also want to be kind to my pride. I recognise that I have had a hard life, and a show of strength has been necessary. Being vulnerable means not being able to protect myself against abuse. Pride is the thing that allows you to have some volition over our lives, to defy dictators and abusers. Without it, why would we resist and struggle those who try to shit on us?

It is a balancing act, and a tough one. I cannot turn pride off, I cannot always lay at the feet of the universe and melt back into its womb. Its hard, life is tricky, perspective is often earned after catastrophe. I don’t blame people for being too prideful.

Fortunately there is a happy tale and I am on the recovery yet again from another ‘medical catastrophe’! I am lucky to have such a strong support network of friends and comrades, but also clever enough to have sought them.

How is that for prideful humility 😉

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Ragnarok

Ragnarok needs to happen.

It is me or them.

Destiny has shown me this much. It has also shown it can be hidden from and delayed, but it is inevitable.

There is no such thing as a safe and steady course onwards.

Something is gnawing inside of me, slowly killing me.

I have been crippled for most of my life.

I am being sacrificed to it, and I know it.

The isles of safety are drowning – every year I watch the sea devour miles of shore.

Soon only the mountains will remain, everything I worked for beneath the uncaring waves.

By then it may be too late.

Ragnarok must be initiated.

Insults require avenging and humiliation must be converted into triumph.

Nothing else in this world can fill the void inside of me.

No achievement or good deeds to another, no high learning or artistry.

Before the rotting tyrants wither and die, losing forever the chance to call them what they are and unbind myself from their power, they must be told the magickal words. Words handed down from generation to generation by those wizardly folk who hated to see mean things done to children.

They must told – fuck off you utter child abusing cunts.

This is to initiate Ragnarok

To lift the veil of shame and secrecy

To rock the temples of authority which protect tyrants

An unleashing of force

Which may destroy the world yet in its fury

But it is a dying world, so what is there to lose?

 

The consumerist spray of chemical roses

An entire sense is being denied. An entire sphere of experience, something so utterly primal and fundamental, is being drowned out. It is another thing being killed by consumer society. and this thing is scent.

Consumerism has reached into the lives and habits of the ordinary people, and sold to them ‘freshness’ in a pressurized spray can full of toxic chemicals, or a colourful bottle of fabric conditioner.

It has even colonized the shitter, because now you can buy a spray to protect that small lake of water from the occasion of human effluence.

I remember as far back as Secondary School people being publicly put on trial by inquisition and humiliated for not having a bath every single day. One of the worst insults going was that someone had the scent of a human being. It took till adulthood to realize how these conforming kids were being influenced by the sick, anxious society around them.

Consumerist hygiene is not about basic cleanliness – it is about feeding on anxiety and promoting what is artificial to people who are trained to be insecure and overly self-analytical. It is about the creation of artificial needs through its control of custom.

If you are trying to run away from the realities of your own body, you are not going to get very far.

It is not only a shame that something artificial is seen as good, but that what is truly good is seldom experienced. Scent is an entire language, one that is being denied and underdeveloped by homogeneity.

It is not a trivial matter, we are being made less sensate. People will never know what it means to have developed scent-senses. They will never know that even their own comfort is at stake, as they are constantly surrounded by artificial chemicals, rather than what is natural. Worse they will impose their anxieties on others by social law.

Chemical roses and chemical blooms, clothes covered in poisons to be washed into the seas, a planet poisoned for the vanities and stupidities of a species which seems to be doing all it can to promote misanthropy and self-destruction.

What could be more idiotic and futile than trying to mask what you truly are?

Noticing the change of days

There was a cold snap in late February, a late come winter. A Siberian wind brought snow and brought cold, real cold.

By some mysterious working on my being, it was the end of the worst of my insomnia. The cold made bedtime so much easier, so much safer and more snug. I felt like a bug in a coccoon!

The cold brought a certain crystal clarity. It meant a bit of planning brought to the day, an extra consciousness and mindfulness. It was hard to endure, but clearly it led to some kind of shift.

I didn’t write much through March, April or May because I was too busy being a spring bud! The Spring and the sun does something to me, as I am sure it does many. It awakens something.

I have never been more aware of the presence of real-life forests faeries – known to the common tongue as blackbirds. I have never been so attuned to them, playful and silly and beautiful of song.

My energy levels have increased significantly. I feel like I can go out a lot more. Being able to sleep properly most nights is fantastic. The sun rising at 4am means night is not so deep, and much less scary. I don’t mind waking so early, as long as I can sleep again til a more sensible time.

Noticing the change of days. I longed for the sun and now it is here, must not take it for granted.

I remember the first proper day of sun, when Britons emerged from their shells and turned the high street outside my house into a catwalk! It was so showy as to be terrifying. Now it has toned down a bit.

Summer is that time when there is too much to do, and only enough time to do half of it. If that. We have to live with that and not be buried beneath the anxiety of ‘missing out’.

Being able to volunteer-work three days a week in organic gardens is doing me a wonder. To be useful and loved for it is such an important thing, something a life of unemployment and inactivity in the shadows of capitalism denied me for so long.

The will to fight those shadows did not increase the darker they got; its only with daily small victories and growth that anything can mustered against it.

There he goes again, bringing the c-word into things! But its true, isn’t it? Nothing of human artifice can match the dance of a thrush and its song. Nothing we make or do can replace that deep inner-shift of the seasons, or the joy that comes after our long, deep winter time.

The sun is out, and its my new ‘therapist’, for now! I feel now is a time for outward growth and advance, the truly deep introspection can wait til November.

It is amazing how obviously false individualism is, and all this talk of ‘control’ over our souls. We are creatures of the world and the sun, it has never seemed so obvious. Change our conditions, and you change our souls.

The change of days is as close as we can come to transcendence. Today I note it.

The survival of our species depends on…

Isn’t it insane that we are hurtling toward catastrophic climate change, yet people seem to be going about as usual?

As a short-term survival strategy, going about the standard life of a coffee-chugging capitalist citizen seems sound. You need money to pay your rent and bills, which means you need to be constantly working to get good pay and prospects, which means you need to understand what employers are looking for and conform to these expectations, which means being involved in society’s value system.

The present capitalist system is very well rigged to make you like this. It is a hostile environment whose purpose is to make you feel anxious and afraid. Without constant “productive economic activity” you could lose your shelter, be forced to live in poor and dangerous areas, be unable to afford the luxuries which sustain your lifestyle, be thrown onto the scrapheap along with the “unproductive” worker ants.

There is always a risk of losing your material basis, as the government strips away protections and inspires ever more precarity. There is the shame of inactivity, poverty, being an outcast, or simple boredom (and all of the existential angst that comes from it), hanging over our heads. This makes it seem logical and sensible to conform to the system, even as it gradually serves us less and less. The warped and toxic value-system of our society promotes mindless conformity and hurtling-juggernaught growth over considered choices and gradual, creative growth (it might have some elements of enlightenment, and perhaps some people do what they genuinely love to enrich the soul of man, but we are talking about the masses).

So in the short-term, it makes sense to be a conforma-drone. I imagine that most people don’t know any different from their lives as exploited proletarians, whose biggest offering to society is the sale of their labour to larger, more powerful entities. If they do know of alternative ways of life, it is as an intellectual exercise, an “utopian ideal” which is all well and good, but cannot get in the way of all this labour-selling and moral underachievement.

But in the long-term, there is no species survival in it. The sum  total of the “its just my job” people, all of the “I have a mortgage to pay” people, all of the “my boss might fire me” people and all the “I don’t have a choice” people is a dystopian hell. If the world was left in the hands of such unimaginative souls, we would truly be approaching the end times.

Fortunately, the blinkered short-term thinkers are redeemed by those who see into the long-term; those who have foreseen the cliff that human civilization is hurtling towards. Such people have been around for decades. It is generally such activists and scientists who have taken risks in the short-term; the risk of destitution and humiliation, the risk of imprisonment and punishment, for the long-term survival strategy of evolving our society.

Imagine if all of those activists never took action because they had to work in a supermarket to sustain their mundane lives. Imagine if all of those climate scientists let the powerful corporations silence them, because they had to put their families and reputations above the truth. They would be as much underachievers as anyone who cannot see beyond capitalism and its destructive effects on the present, and the future to come. This is not to separate people into black and white categories of hero and drone, it is to say that most of us can, and should, rise up and strive for the true freedom which can only come in a free, equal, sustainable society.

It is not easy to think ahead – it is extremely anxiety inducing, and not always understood by people why such thinking is important. The future is unpredictable, we cannot map it out anymore than we know which way to turn in life’s labyrinth.

But we can learn from the paths we take, prepare ourselves with a shield and a big ball of wool to help protect us against danger and navigate what lies before us. We can look back on the past and learn from our mistakes, and vow to never again repeat them. Perhaps someday we will live in a world where short-term survival strategies are in harmony with the long-term, but that is a world we must earn.

We are coming to the point where we no longer have a choice but to risk a society-wide evolutionary experiment or face further catastrophe. Perhaps we are already at that point.

But thanks to the rebels (who are increasingly becoming the mainstream) I have hope that there is a future for us, and for our living world.

 

Frail

Frail is life on this orb

And we all eventually die.

 

The most hard-hearted man

Clutches his pillow like a child

Dreams of a great hand stroking his hair

And a warm blanket around him

The gush of milk through his mouth

Because he is frail, as we are all frail.

 

Any insult to his paper-thin ego

Spears through his armour and reminds

That he is a frail, fleshy thing

Reaching for an immortal light

He can never reach.

 

Did you know that all war and violence

Comes from the failure to accept

How frail we really are?

 

Our DNA, our bones, our species legacy

The mysterious thing that will survive us;

That alone is not frail.

It will fight to the end, boxing with eternity

Defying the impossible to survive

Like weeds clinging to the bricks of a house

Or an insect roaming over a savannah of concrete

Like lice nesting inside an eaten-out corpse

Or a lost chick forced to be courageous,

That spirit alone can survive us.

 

God cannot save us

Science cannot sustain us

Nature will eventually devour us.

Sometimes I see a mocking skull

Appear at moments of misfortune

And laugh at us!

 

But it is all OK.

 

When a campfire burns,

Some embers fly high

Others are dragged down,

But all are swiftly put out.

 

This is just how it is.

Why do haters hate?

So the haters hated, the naysayers said nay, the abusers abused, the controllers exerted their control.
 
And they failed.
 
With all of their advantages of power, seniority and material wealth, they still failed.
 
They made the journey much harder. They gave me these mental disorders and suicidal thoughts. They forced me to traverse barren lands of isolation and pass through tunnels of despair. They taught me to distrust the world and made every relationship an uphill struggle. 
 
But still they failed to drag me down to their level.
 
What drives these petty hate-filled people? What makes them obsess over others, latch onto them like limpets and try to drain them dry? What would they be left with even if they succeeded?
 
What does it matter. They don’t matter.
 
When I hear people mocking ambition I am taken back to their twisted faces, screaming desperately, afraid of being left behind. They don’t want a star in their midst – that would mean challenging themselves and admitting how much they fell short. They are unambitious in that sense; moral underachievement is their comfort zone. Ambition is what makes us want to better ourselves, it should never be mocked.
 
Without ambition I would be as bad as the people I was surrounded with most of my life. The wretched want to hold me down in the spiritual muck where they dwell, but that is not their decision. Where I end up is ultimately up to me.
 
Every time I am attacked, derided, put down, criticised or insulted by deranged and stupid people, I imagine Jeremy Corbyn standing in parliament, some Tory slime hurling shit at him, trying to divert him into that same base level of existence. If Jez can resist that much pressure in the chambers of power, then why can’t I rise above the terrible, petty little shits life is so frequented with.
 
Of course, there have also been many great friends and allies in my life, without whom I would not have survived. If you are reading this, you are one of them.

You are the good cause

I keep on having the same conversation over and over again with various activists and people trying to evolve society.

‘What can I do? Am I doing enough?’

‘I do this and it doesn’t fit in with my ideas.’

‘I have to do things to survive in the system that I don’t want to do.’

‘I feel like I should be on the front lines but I can’t manage it.’

Standing back and looking at these kind of phrases, they are all saying a similar thing: ‘The weight of the world is on my shoulders and my concern for the world is all-powerful.’ The standards they are holding themselves to are much higher than those who conform to society’s norms. And taking one step further back they are saying: ‘I am separate from the world.’ This is the bizarre blip of logic which I have found myself in, and it is very pervasive.  A division of the self from the ocean of humanity, a kind of ideological transcendence.

When you are in a social circle at the vanguard of change, it is very easy to become separated from the whole. You spend so much time at the fringes that you stop identifying with that you are trying to change. You become, in quite a crude way, ‘transcendent’. This is what allows impossible value systems to emerge, along with confusing cycles of guilt and shame and individualistic self-criticism.

None of us can live an authentic, total anarchism in a capitalist world. Taking that world onto your shoulders and expecting to be able to carry it is a promise to be crushed and broken. As activists, our goal is to transform the world-devouring system into something more creative, not to perfect ourselves within that system.

If you are fighting for a good cause, you have to come out of the other end intact to truly succeed. The movement needs healers, nurturers, carers and therapists in its radical spaces. It needs families, gentleness, comfort and respite from the front lines. A balance between being active and passive needs to be achieved.

Even looking at it from a more detached perspective, the cause needs to look after its warriors just to win. This is not just one battle, but an ideological campaign which could last any length of time – even to the end of our lives.

One does not throw ones warriors mindlessly into battle, expecting them to fight at full strength time and time again without rest. For the capitalist system, people are expendable means to an end. Foot soldiers of the system are not in short supply. They can afford to use people, chew them up and spit them out. The people in power are detached enough from the consequences of their actions to use others, without the bite of conscience.

But for us, every individual person is as precious as the whole.

We cannot allow for expendability, because fundamentally we are in touch with our emotions and sensitive to the world (otherwise, we would not be activists). We cannot commit atrocities or trample over others, because we do not have masks of detachment, and we have not been bent out of shape by decades of false promise.

Activists need to recognise their humanity, and acknowledge their own basic needs before taking but a single step on their path. The capitalist world system maintains itself through the sacrifice of one’s time and the martyrdom of one’s dreams, and we should not be mirroring those warped ‘virtues’ in our own movements.

Do you what you can at this time, in your own time.

There is no way to live a pure life in an impure world, and to even try is to fail. Society is not something to separate from, or demonize as some absolute evil. Instead we need to stay involved, take its resources, dare into the labyrinths of power and come out with its power in our hands. Only this time for the good of all, and the good of the world.

This transformation cannot be achieved (or can only be achieved at immense cost) if you see yourself as separate from the world, and fail to look after yourself as a result. You cannot achieve noble ends if the means are to destroy yourselves and your allies.

You are the good cause.

 

A person of colour…

The equality of species is the cry of the enlightened

They see the web on interconnection that allows us to exist

And that oneness is what is sacred.

The difference between a man and a horse

Shrinks the more you think about it

Realize where we came from

What we all need

And what we will evolve into.

 

If the difference between species is no gulf

Then what of the differences within a species.

This I believe to be truth…

 

 

You can believe that there is ultimately no such thing as race.

You can see the world through universal eyes.

You can believe that everything you have done

Is your own deed, without privilege or oppression.

You can believe that we are all one

And that it is time to move past archaic divisions.

 

That won’t make it come true

Because the great white sharks in charge have the power

To poison the well for everyone

And they do.

 

You can say you are not black or white or brown

Just a soul in a body

But will your oppressors see you that way?

And will racists be so enlightened?

And is it in your interests to relinquish your collective might at this point in history?

 

It is ok to see through the madness of the game power plays

But still play it, because that is how you survive.