It’s the End* and Life Means Nothing

October 13th, 2018 § 0 comments

*It’s the end of the anthropocene at least. Humans. Most animals.

Let’s say we have ten more good years. Ten more years to swim in the ocean, to use cellphones, to drink tap water. Even that seems preposterous. The amount of carelessness, neglect, over-extraction, denial—the sheer amount of people in the world—if we make it ten more years, that would be truly astonishing.

No—not astonishing—it would be another decade of treading water in a riptide. Time will beat down the already suffering: the silenced, the ignored, the forgotten so the privileged few could have ten more years—maybe. Borders will continue to close. People will continue to be submerged in scarcity. We will work ceaselessly on all of the wrong things, selling our time to the endlessly churning machine of capitalism. Every physical, necessary resource will unravel. Every intangible, nebulous form of currency (time, digits in a bank account, data on a cloud), will take on a crushing weight.

Life—all life, since the beginning—is at the expense of life. Survival for one group means the peril of another. Some of us will fight this, as we fight this now. We will continue to fight borders and cages and walls and insist on the path of least suffering. It will always take longer. It will always take time and time and time to heal. It will always take less then a second to shatter. I don’t know if we are fighting against our true nature. I don’t know if there is some fundamental human state. I know transformation is always possible. I also know that violence is our ancestry and violence is our progeny.

Some of us—perhaps too few, always too few—will love fiercely and fight against oppression tirelessly, as we do now, as the world burns and drowns, as we hold up memories like negatives to the light, as we see a future beyond this one, one to fear and one to fight for. I will always wonder if freedom is truly possible on this plane, in these bodies. Freedom, for me, is the end of suffering. Not just the individual’s, which I do believe has a proximate possible form, but for all that sustains the individual. Freedom, true freedom at the expense of nothing—is to be unborn. But here we are: born, without our consent or consideration. Born into one body or another, one land or another, one time or another, all of which place us on a continuum of suffering.

So what then? We are, almost certainly, at the end of days, without a unified meaning or purpose. Now what?

Here’s where I find freedom because my path forward is clear. All that remains for me to do is this: lessen suffering. Less and less suffering. There is a ticking clock (although time is, you know, relative) and still so much pain. Animals that spend their cramped, butchered lives tortured and miserable. Humans that spend their whole lives in cages. Parents that tear their children into shreds because they were torn apart as children. People who are systematically disenfranchised and murdered by the state. And the rest that remains: to simultaneously lessen my own suffering, to heal all that I can, to stop the cycle of pain of my ancestors. To do all of this imperfectly: sometimes hastily, sometimes without full understanding of the consequences.

But this is what I can commit.

  1. To be my own parent, to be my own child.
  2. To love my parents, to talk to them, learn from them, share with them, to not shy away from their suffering.
  3. Same for my friends. Same for my community. Same for the world, for every life I can fit into my heart.
  4. To lessen my dependence on any product that causes animals or humans suffering, i.e. factory farms, exploited labor, deforestation.
  5. To experience wonder in all things. The history of all things, the life cycle, the specificity, the nuance, the connection.
  6. To be unafraid of money because, for my particular circumstances, I have access to enough. I am lucky. I am incredibly, undeservedly lucky. I can use this to uplift and care for others. This includes going to school for trauma healing therapy. Take out those loans. If the world ends in ten years, the joke’s on the bank.
  7. To write and create: processing information, experience so as not to get caught in it and dragged by it. To transform, envision and honor the subject matter.
  8. To adjust my learned discomfort, push beyond what I think I can do. For me, this primarily means pushing beyond any assumptions and socialization based on my race, gender and class; to ceaselessly fight for, envision, and build the liberation of all. To always share my resources even in the midst of scarcity. To always question my feelings of deserving and righteousness for they often are born of ego and fear. And to always strive to give away as much as I receive for there is no reason to build an individual material legacy. This is the end.
  9. To pursue any small or great desire I have because why not. My entire universe of experience will die with me. And there is so little time left.

So why not:

  1. Get as close as I can to a whale, a blue whale, to touch her, to swim alongside her.
  2. Self-publish whatever I want.
  3. Live by the ocean, close enough to walk to.
  4. Foster children, always have a rescue dog, always have a home that I can share with those that need it.
  5. Eat pastries.
  6. Go to Lebanon, Morocco, Madagascar, Botswana, Hawaii, Japan.
  7. Spend time in boats, canoes, pirogues.
  8. Visit parks, gardens, waterfalls, canyons, caves, forests.
  9. Read everything.
  10. Watch TV because whatever it’s good and I love it.
  11. Continue to watch the same movies over and over.
  12. Listen to more Beyoncé.
  13. Dress in drag.
  14. Go everywhere possible with Hen.

 

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