Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Machine

     Once put under the metaphorical microscope, modern society is fashioned after the workings of a not too complex machine. This machine runs on the fuel of expectations.. we have expectations for what childhood, adulthood, career, success, education, nature, and relationships are supposed to look like.  Consequentially, we are met with unparalleled stress when life doesn't look how the malfunctioning machine assured us it would.  Rebellious children, lying adults, a dwindling career, poverty, natural disasters, failed relationships... are not only reacted to with grief and human understanding... but with shock and malevolent surprise. "I took all the steps, i pushed every button at the time I was told, I watched the conveyor belt moving forward.. then the machine exploded.  How could this happen?"  Our societal machine has Mother Nature down to a science.  Earthquakes can only shake so hard.  Hurricanes can only get so big.  Loss of human life can be controlled and calculated.  When she proves her strength, stretches beyond the boundaries of our machines... she becomes a cold calculated villain.  The nature machine has a glitch.. time for a software update.  A well oiled machine is without surprise.. no discomfort... no guilt.. no suffering... no insecurities.. and no fear.
     Much of our confusion, sorrow, and sense of failure.. stems from the fact that humanity makes a horrible machine.  We react in ways that cannot be predicted, sometimes even surprising ourselves with our strengths and weaknesses.  We seek each others acceptance to the point of violence, lashing out in desperate attempts to be seen.  We love with our whole bodies, in ways deeper than modern science can begin to understand.  Our energies are connected to all of nature, similar I suppose to the parts of a machine, but connected by subconscious understanding of interdependence... a system far more spiritual than mechanical.
     We set up an economy on the machine mentality.. watching graphs of money go up and down on a screen.... as we the buyers and sellers operate our part of the supply and demand machine.. pushing buttons and swiping cards.. doing our duty for the economic computer we depend on.
     We go to schools like factories... learning to fall into our place at the conveyor belt.. pushing products and ideas down the line to be absorbed and sold.
     We fall in love as robots, expecting relationships to be calculated and easy to understand.  If you say this he says this.. if you feel this he feels this... you get married.. you have babies.. you grow old and invest in your retirement... and then you grow old happily and move to a quaint little nursing home.
     The machine hums and moves and progresses and becomes all encompassing... every facet of our lives is fueled by the natural gas of our robotic expectations.
     Then... the machine malfunctions.  We realize not the machine mentality's flaws.. but instead mourn for our own, seeing ourselves as the unique failures for our supposed shortcomings and worthlessness.  We sit in shame as we, the human failure, see our lives as vast disappointment.
     Realize this: humans are beautiful spiritual animals... built with mystery and magic in our blood.  We are destined to live with surprise and fear and rage and love... uninhibited by the bounds of a machine.  Your soul longs for ecstasy, nature, freedom, and mystery.  We make excellent lovers and explorers, but terrible machines.  Own that.
      I made the strange, rather impulsive decision, to postpone school.  I felt the machine underneath the motivations of my life's journey and decided to step back and sit in the quiet.  It's terrifying and I can feel the transitory calm before the revolutionary storm.  But here I am... waiting for the cosmic signs as to how to purpose a life unlimited by my own expectations, and resigning from my duties at the societal factory.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Time To Grieve

    I recently was blessed with the opportunity to attend a conference for media professionals seeking to transform the world into a better place through the use of their art... I felt mildly out of my league to put it lightly... but sat quietly in the back for a solid five hours absorbing as much inspiration as my brain could handle. Days later, I find my mind clinging to a brief presentation by artist, Chris Jordan.  Before you read any further, I implore you to look at his work... unbelievably resonant.
     The conference was a blur of mass information: consciousness, transformation, environmental conservation, mental illness, storytelling, money, books... a lot to absorb... however, i find myself dwelling on and retelling to my peers only one statement presented by Jordan.  In the words of Walt Whitman "Whatever satisfies the soul is truth."  If Jordan's one plea to the audience of a thousand has stuck with me so profoundly, I believe my soul has longed for this truth since its birth.  Simply put he implored... "our society needs to grieve."
    Jordan explained that after the Holocaust, German artists used their medium as a catharsis for decades, manifesting the shame of their society onto canvases, sheet music, screens, literature, every artistic medium.  German society acknowledged their human role in mass horriffic loss, looked inward at their conscience, and moved forward together as a united, grieving society.  Germany's people had experienced the darkness that shows itself when a society falls asleep... and in the aftermath of World War Two, they cried together and reflected on what they had done... even those who played a role only in their passivity.  Societies are made up of humans, bringing with it all the fear, insecurities, love, stories, and risk that human nature allows. Germany decided not to run from their dark foundations, and realized that acknowledging darkness in retrospect, is required to move forward into the possibility of light.
     Amidst the chaos that American society has found itself lost in, foundations must be questioned.  Our nation has seen its share of shame.  Violence, mass environmental disregard, unjust wars, enslavement of minorities, failure to see each other as humans, money put on a pedestal... we as humans, must acknowledge our missteps and their horrible consequences.  We cannot pass our shame onto future generations... seeing ourselves and our ancestors in a light of innocence.  We are humans, all of us, and projected innocence of our past does not amount to nobility.
     It is remarkably beneficial to grieve in solidarity with each other, as shared sorrow has the power to connect us in ways that saccharine small talk cannot. I am an eternal optimist for the future... however, the future does not come to us like an impending wall... we create it.  American society has to stop the movement for just a moment and decide that we WILL not be afraid of grief. We must acknowledge that we are a country made up of humans, all the dirt and gore that human implies.  We have made mass mistakes and continue making them every day.  It's time we grieve together for our slaughter of forests and animals.  It's time we grieve together for our acceptance of violence and oppression towards the vulnerable.  It's time we grieve for our failure to see money as nothing more than imaginary numbers on paper.  It's time we grieve for our time of passive sleep.  Grieving is nothing to be afraid of... and we have to do it together.