Was there a time in your life when your hopes were high and your responsibilities low? An era when you were told (and even worse believed) that you could have anything, and achieve anything, because you lived in the first world and all it took was hard work and a positive attitude to be living a glorious life.
To some extent, this was almost true! We had pocket money, indoor loos and pastel coloured bathrooms suites (oh dear), access to a university education, wild holidays on Greek Islands and Ibiza, sex without the overriding fear of pregnancy, booze, recreational drugs, and a gap year, culminating in a good job, meals with friends and an affordable mortgage on your “oh so cool” bachelor pad!
By the time you reach your thirties, hope remains, but your responsibilities have increased to the point where the glow on your dreams has dimmed, somewhat, and a nagging doubt starts to emerge that you have turned in to your parents (yikes)!!!
First we get in to a sensible relationship (because that’s what everybody does right?) then we get a house where we are brainwashed in to filling it with stuff from Ikea or “up cycled furniture “ in the name of individuality (no offense meant concerning either of those choices). Then comes the first child, followed by the need for a “bigger place”, and you wake up one morning wandering how the hell you got here??
Now I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but life can get to the point where it becomes like Groundhog day (blending together like some suspicious-tasting–organic-smoothie), including the successful career that you invested some much time and money to get in to (and wanted so much at the beginning). Daily Soul Crushers like your “job” can become progressively more overstretching –or worse- mundane to the point where the world starts to turn grey and the only thing you look forward to is that drink with your mates on the way home from work, or putting your key in the door of your family home where you can’t wait to “pop the cork” on the life saving bottle of wine that feels like the only thing that can get you through the evening!
And the kids (I know we are never supposed to share these thoughts); you might love them enough to walk on hot coals to protect them, but let’s face it folks, parenting is a job, with not many days off, no pension scheme, sick days or finishing time! The whining, grizzling and projectile vomiting; the bad dreams in the middle of the night, in addition to the little problems at school, the fact that they will never match up to societies’ ridiculously high standards, and can chew on every one of your last nerves! These daily experiences can crush your spirit, with life itself feeling like Edvard Munch’s “SILENT SCREAM” (1893).
19th Century philosopher, Henry David Theroux (1817–62) said:
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation” (1854)
“To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.” (Theroux 1854)
What a tragedy indeed Reader; we are so busy trying to live the dream, we lose the essence of who we really are and could reach the end of our lives only to realise that we haven’t lived at all.
Let me tell you Reader, as another dawn approaches, and your tired and weary sprit sinks, as the sun rises, the human spirit is far stronger than you ever thought possible; even a suicidal person will cling to a raft if suddenly tipped overboard. It is a reflex and part of the human condition to preserve one’s self at all costs, indicating that the desire to survive dwells within all of us. That being the case Reader, don’t you owe it to yourself to find a way to keep your spirit alive; where life persists, so does hope!
The solutions can be both complicated and simple! If you woke up tomorrow following some kind of national disaster, what would your priorities be? Outside of the obvious needs such as food and water, shelter and safety; the answer lies with the people we love. Love has many faces and we don’t always appreciate this until it is too late!
We spend so much time complicating our lives to become pro-social; chasing after things both tangible and hypothetical that we lose our essential self in the process. Don’t get me wrong Reader, conformity is not a dirty word; it is part of the socially transmitted behaviours that supports human group survival, but must we conform at the cost of who we are as individuals.
The three things we need as humans are: someone to love, something to do and something to hope for. I would suggest another necessity: that of being your most authentic self! I urge you Reader not to give up on HOPE, despite the dark cul-de-sac of responsibilities (and despair) we can find ourselves in at times (or even a lot). Don’t you owe it to yourselves (and those you love) to find and be your best self, while you still have life and breath in you? Remember that rock bottom can be fertile ground to solve problems and make meaningful changes. Start “living” your bucket list now!!!
Written with Love and Hope! AEB J
HENRY DAVID THOREAU, Walden, (1966). Originally published in 1854.