I was talking to the Pigs* this morning and he told me about a story that had been making the rounds of facebook. A woman was disillusioned with her job and three years ago walked out to go on vacation. She never went back and she is still vacationing. Primarily she lives off her savings, hitch hikes and couch surfs, but she will occasionally work along the way. I have no idea how she does this, but I desperately want to know!
Most of the facebook comments, however, were derisive in the fashion most typical of online forums. Anonymity assholification is what I call it; it is the phenomenon where otherwise perfectly decent human beings act like complete jerks because the anonymity gives them courage to act out. People said that it wasn’t a real three-year vacation because she had to work sometimes. Others said she could only do it because of her white privilege. Very few comments were positive and the majority of them were banal, overused and hardly relevant to the actual story. The Pigs said to me that it made him sad to see how the vast majority of the world still isn’t ready to accept that there is another way to find happiness outside of the rat race that’s killing us all.
I said to him “it’s pearls before swine.” I am not much of a Bible quoter, though ironically I reference the Bible more now that I have quit Christianity than I ever did as a follower. The wisdom in this passage is this: If you have pearls and you throw them before a heard of swine, they will just swallow them and shit them out with the other food they forage for. Swine will eat anything, and it all turns to shit. I’m not sure that Jesus used the same phrasing, but I think “pearls to shit” has impact. The beautiful story of a woman with the courage to walk away from the Standard Narrative and forge her own path, when it was posted on facebook, became a pearl that was quickly swallowed by the masses of swine that populate the Interwebs.
In my own life I feel as though I have collected, discovered and refined great swaths of pearls in the form of experience, knowledge and wisdom. I want to share them with the world. I want to show the people around me that there is a way to have happiness and, while it is not easy, it is very simple to do.
The reality that I face, though, is that most people are simply not ready. I could give them one of my pearls and they wouldn’t know it from a moth ball. For me, right now, the challenge is to find the people who want to hear my message. There is no use in fighting with those who are grounded in opposition, however I am sure there are people, like the woman who is still on vacation, who would like to hear what I have to say. Maybe she knows something that I don’t, but I am sure that even those who have begun to forge their own paths to happy would still appreciate having the company and the communion from another who also deviates.
I had another moment of a similar nature earlier today. In realizing that my relationship with the Giant store had come to an end, I felt that I needed to give voice to my feelings and share them with those involved. So I sent a message to Thunder explaining to him that I was going to separate myself from him and the shop because I felt unneeded and unappreciated. He wrote back to me a message I have heard many times before, “I don’t know why you’re so upset, but do what you have to.” It’s a common reply from boys who don’t want to acknowledge that something they are doing could be causing pain to another. I stewed on the message over night. Of course it hurt to be brushed off after sharing my honest feelings and I was mad. I was also frustrated that, even as it is often incredibly difficult to find the right words in English, I had to do this in Japanese and still he refused to help me even in communicating.
In the end I realized that I was dealing with another case of swine. I believe in love. I believe in the fundamental goodness of people. It is a habit of mine to react to people with love and empathy, to try to understand their perspective and why they behave the way they do, and to avoid passing judgment on them as Good or Bad. But swine do not understand about love. They believe in Good and Evil and Winners and Losers. They believe that when people disagree someone is right and someone is wrong. They don’t understand that sometimes both people can want the same things and still be unable to find a solution.
If you give your love to swine, you will just get shit in return. Ironically, I don’t blame the swine for this, either. It is just their nature. It still hurts, though. I think it hurts even more because if I could say, “you are a terrible person!” then I could feel as if my loss was not so great. After all, who mourns the loss of shit? No one. But the loss of something beautiful that, try as you might, you could never fully own though it had been flitted before your eyes repeatedly, and tauntingly? This is truly painful.
Part of me still hopes that what I am saying is not true. Part of me still hopes that this beautiful thing that once seemed available to me is not actually gone. It is the same part of me that hopes that the world will one day wake up and hear my message: You can have freedom, you can have love, you can have happiness, and you can have all of it right now. All you have to do is want it: see it, want it, reach out and take it. It’s that simple.
And yet, again I find myself standing with arms full of pearls and no one but swine to give them to.