I believe in Love and Happy; I believe that these are things that are possible for all of us to have, that they are indeed our very rights as human beings. I am putting my whole life force into chasing my Happy, but there are times when I get downright depressed at the enormity of the task. Let me lay it out for you.
Human beings by their very construction need certain unmeasurable, non-marketable things in order to thrive. We need to love and to be loved. We need a sense of belonging. We also need healthy food with complete nutrient profiles, not just the right ratio of carbs, fats and proteins. Unfortunately even the best nutritionist only knows a part of what a complete profile looks like, so another way to state our need is that we need to eat whole and varied foods, with all their germs and natural chemical composition intact. In addition to those things we need stimulation. A certain amount of adrenaline rush, hardship, thrill, exhilaration, and sadness are all necessary to keep us in balance. Finally, at least as far as my understanding, we need stillness.
The human entity operates on and within a cycle, with each peak and valley absolutely essential to our health, performance and experience of life. This is not a question of preferences, by the way. I am not saying that we need to feel sad, or that we want to feel sad, or that we should feel sad. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with wanting or seeking to feel happy all the time, it’s just not how the world works, and not how our bodies were made. In the natural world there are always waves. Seasons bring change that must be adapted to, stimulating us to grow. There are good years and bad years. Sometimes there are accidents. Death is part of life as much as birth is. It is unarguable that the world brings with it infinite variation, and I am positing that our bodies, and indeed our psyches as well, were designed to operate inside such an environment.
What happens, then, when you take body designed to rotate through peaks and valleys and you put it in an environment of complete or near complete monotony? First of all, let us ask what kind of monotony we are experiencing. It is certainly not the monotony of only the peaks of our experience. Our modern world has produced its stability by shaving off the extremes and plunking us profoundly in the middle. We no longer experience starvation, but similarly we no longer experience the extreme sense of being alive that only looking death in the face can bring. Love, too, has been dulled down and glazed over. Wanton passion, hunger for the physical flesh of another human being has been relegated to the realm of the sleazy, the immature, or the Hollywood. Perhaps the most convincing proof that love and passion have been monotonized in our modern world is the generally understood (though only ever in the context of other people) image of marriage as the death of romance.
A being that was perfectly designed to operate in a fluctuating world of highs and lows finds itself suddenly plunked down into a world of profound mediocrity. It seeks to replace the stimulation that was part of its natural environment, but in our modern world the real thing is no longer available. We have to work with approximations and substitutes built with only a partial understanding of our true nature. So we have people addicted to drugs (and coffee in my case) because it gives them the feeling of being alive that has been robbed from us by civilization and safety protocol. We have people in wretched, poisonous relationships because they crave the stimulation of true connection, but have been cultured away from the ability to actually feel another human being. There are those that are busying themselves to death, too. Technology makes it possible to be on all the time, and so we are never, ever off. Slowly we lose our ability to focus on the present moment, our experience disconnected from our reality to the point that we can no longer understand the messages our body is sending us, telling us how to navigate back to a place of true health.
How do I know that this is the lot of the modern human? Because I drank the Koolaid, realized it wasn’t delivering on its promise, and tried to find my way back to a place of health and wellness. What I found, and am still finding, is that the ingredients necessary for health are nigh impossible to find in modern society. I hope you don’t mind if I unload some of my frustrations on you, dear reader.
Let’s begin with society itself. If it’s so bad for me, why do I insist on living in it? It is because I am solving a constrained problem. If my choice is inside society or outside society, then inside society gives me an unhealthy physical environment, but it is also my best bet to find physical and emotional connection to other beings. If I were to walk out of the civilized world, go off the grid, so to speak, then I could easily build a home with all the quiet, all the natural food, all the dark, stillness, and chemical free that I need. I am a strong and capable woman and it would only take me a few years to get the experience I need to live sustainably as a hermit in the mountains somewhere. But of course, that’s the catch. My physical body would be cared for, but my emotional body would starve. Humans were never meant to live alone any more than they were meant to live in a world with no extremes, so I choose to struggle on inside society hoping that I might one day find a solution to my physical problems.
Let us now discuss the physical challenges of living inside modern civilization. I am yet to find a place to live that enables me to both make my living (read: make enough money to buy the things I need to operate inside society), and also attain the quiet, dark, chemical-free environment I need to enable my body to operate within its natural circadian rhythm. Every where I go there is someone on a cell phone, someone with leaking headphones, enginges idling, engines roaring, someone smoking, someone (many someones) using blinding, pointless flourescent lights. None of this is conducive to a healthy body, and yet where do I go to get away from it? My answer to this day is still: the mountains, deep into the mountains where no modern human would be willing to travel to bother me.
On top of there being no good option for housing, there are no good options for food, either. Organic equates to gourmet, and gourmet equates to expensive. All our food is laced with one or another of chemically altered substances that are foreign to our body and a hindrance to health. Certainly one can have more or less healthy food within the range of what is available to us, but one cannot actually purchase food which is actually healthy. It plainly doesn’t exist on the market. So what does one do? Well, anyone who truly understands the importance of diet to overall health will eventually come to the conclusion that they are going to have to make it themselves. And how do you make all of your food yourself? Well, you have to go somewhere with land and water and no industrial structures nearby to pollute it. What’s that you say? Oh yeah, way out in the mountains somewhere would definitely do it.
What about connections, then? Surely modern society with its endless bustling and bulging population must give us profound opportunities to find others we can connect with. Aren’t there over 6 billion people in the world today? And more than half of them concentrated in the big cities of the world? Odds are (s)he’s out there, right? Ha! With nearly every modern convenience available through online providers, it’s possible to go through your entire life without ever having to meet anyone besides the deliveryman. What this means is that if you do want to meet someone, really meet and connect with them, then you have to make an excuse to do it. If you don’t have an excuse than you are forced to say that you are meeting someone just because. And that makes people uncomfortable, so of course no one does it. So life in modern society puts me in a world of anonymous faces, sometimes anonymous voices over the phone, but increasingly anonymous e-mails. If only people would move out to the mountains with me. Then we would have a reason to connect with each other, but here is the only place where society is better than solitude. That said, it’s a sorry, sorry deal nonetheless.
So, I hope you’ll forgive me for being dejected this morning. I’m longing for the days of my youth when the Koolaid still looked tasty. I’m sitting here wishing that I still believed that the world was my oyster, and that all I had to do was crack it open and reap its abundant treasures. At least when I was younger I had hope. Now I feel like all I have is a completely useless understanding of a world I can’t escape, but can’t really live in, either. I try really hard. I struggle, but I am alone and outnumbered.
Fuck you, society, you suck.
Image courtesy of ETSY