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You Wont Like This
You won't like this, but it’s okay to not like things that matter.
We are all ‘moved’. To be human is to be caught between the two things that can move anything in this world: Love or Fear.
We arrive through the gate of Nature, wired to our core with what is called the Motivational Triad: Avoid Pain, Seek Pleasure, Conserve Energy; in that order.
Before we become sentient enough to Reason and to Understand, Nature, as a kindness needs some manner of moving us, as it does all life. Movement is Life. Life is Movement. Slowly through these mechanics of the Motivational Triad, Life explored every possibility of form and feature, of habit and external phenotype in a process we call Evolution. We avoid pain because pain is a good indicator of injury and injury a good indicator of risk of death. Life wants to live after all. We enjoy food, company, sex, and all the other things on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs because they help us avoid Loss, Danger and Injury or they provide us pleasure to our physical or psychological senses.
Fear is essential for Animals. Fear is not Danger, but sometimes there is danger, Pain is not Injury, but sometimes there is injury, Discomfort is not Loss, but sometimes there is risk of loss. Once we can reason and understand, we are invited into Discernment. Discernment is the ability to tell Fear apart from Danger, Pain from Injury and Discomfort from Loss.
We need Discernment especially if we no longer want to be moved from Fear, that is to say once we Choose to pursue Actualisation rather than Survival. If we want to be moved from Love, discernment is essential because we still need to grow and evolve, but all growth can only happen in the face of resistance. We have to choose some pain, some fear and some discomfort. (The secret aim of all tension is transformation.) This is what martial arts, endurance sports and any other form of constructive vulnerability is all about, the highest expression of which, is to be moved by Love in the pursuit of Actualisation. This is what it means, in essence, to be okay with not liking things that matter.
The following piece is about noticing shadow, in the world and in ourselves. It is necessary and essential to discernment.
As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.
Carl Gustav Jung
You won’t like this.
You won’t like this.
You’ll want to tell yourself this is negative and that we don’t need any of that negativity.
You won’t like it, and you’ll blame me for being an asshole, and it will still be true, it will still be necessary, and you will still be here.
You’ll find yourself hunting for a word, is it arrogant? But even that wont quite fit.
You’ll want to assure yourself that the irritation or the discomfort you feel is on me; my ego, my shadow, but somehow, a part of you will know. This will move you to care more and to be a little more afraid of apathy. This will make you half a shade wiser to realise that it’s okay to not like things that matter.
I’ve said it all. You thought it was cute. You liked, and kept scrolling. Except, it mattered. And the moment passed.
And now we are all here in this zestless chaos, wondering what’s next. Like baby cuckoos in the nest waited on by the depleted mama bird of our souls running about the forest of social media and streaming life to bring us the next thing for our hungry souls.
So hungry for Meaning.
Starving, for Meaning.
We will die here. All of us. We will go out like this. Unless we become something else. Unless we shake ourselves free of the smallness.
I want to give you encouragement. I do. I really do. But you don’t want encouragement to move, and help make it okay, you just want encouragement for it all to be okay.
It’s not going to be okay. Not at first. -It’s going to be terrible. But it’s okay; It’s going to be okay. But we have to move now. We have to wake up.
We were meant for more than this. But you have to stop scrolling.
You have to go to YouTube and watch a video of a baby cuckoo, fat and ravenous, a trembling will to receive, and the mother bird, a tiny desperate thing working herself to a fretting distress to feed the juvenile many times her size, too busy with her earnest hopeless quest to satisfy something that can never have enough, to mourn the loss of her own children, kicked from the nest to make room for the black eyed feathered bloat of bottomless undiscerning need.
You have to watch that and know, that part of your life is being played out this way. You have to shudder and feel the revulsion and make the deep pure choice that says “not like this.”
You have to find the other video on YouTube, the one with the noble praying mantis which we see stiffly inching along the table. You have to notice that you notice something is amiss, but your innocence is still reaching for lighter truths before you see the long black thing sliding out it’s backside. You have to notice the horror wake in you when you realise the mantis was not walking. You have to notice something deep and ancient, the very essence of Life put there millions of years ago, stirring awake in you, as the realisation dawns in you, that the praying mantis was not walking, it was not alive. It is an undead thing, animated by this dark mimicry of life that crawled inside it and took everything from it, to approximate life, itself unwitting to how far outside of life it is.
You have to feel that loud “No” that screams without words inside your own body. And then, you have to realise that what you see online, the glamour, the status, the ‘lols’, the ‘seven-things-you-need-to-know’, the stupid ‘life hacks’, the ridiculous gambits for attention, even the cute aphorisms of wisdom and plucky advice -almost all of it, is like that praying mantis. And you have been watching it this whole time, and you just haven’t seen the black thing slide out the backside yet.
This is the truth you already know but don’t want to face. We’re not doing well. And nothing outside of us is going to change that.
You have to own something, some small but meaningful part of this is on you. You have to move, and what is more, you have to be the mover.
If you aren’t the mover, what you think of as life is not life and it is moving you. What is missing, is ‘soul’. Soul is not some ethereal nonsense; when you feel isolated, depleted, anxious and empty, it is what is missing. Soul is simply our sense of beauty and connection with Life, from which we derive everything that really matters in the end: meaning, purpose and belonging.
This is just the beginning. You don’t have to like it, you just have to love it. Don’t just sit there passively. Do something.
To Reach, means both to aim for something beyond ourselves, contending with our limits, but also our arrival at the place beyond them.
Engage. Boost the signal. If you really don’t know what to do, come and find me, I’ll gladly give you something meaningful to do. Just don’t do nothing by keeping doing what you think is something. It’s like that moment in sleep paralysis where you stop being so afraid and you just start looking for your defiance and you strain with all your will, just to move a fraction of a fraction of an inch. That fraction, to the soul, is the first tiny pebble that presages the avalanche. We are who we repeatedly Choose to be. No One Else is Coming.
And If you happen to be moved to shoot the messenger, know that I am not moved equally by all opinion. The world would be better served by you investing that life energy rather, in making this message less necessary.
I live with the question “What would I want / what does love look like right now?” The answer is never the same because the present moment is always unfolding and we are all always unfolding. But at this moment, today, this is my answer to that question.
How much more beautiful and incredible could life be with a flourishing of art and creativity that isn’t incentivised to have more?
THE SLIMMEST THREAD We are all holding on by the slimmest thread to a dream of peace and civil quiet, but the rude, are calling out, their crass pleas, asking us to pay heed to some other injustice, some further violation of the most vulnerable. And their words, rake at our ears like a discordant crow call, tearing through the sweet soundtrack of birdsong, a needle scratch at our lullabies of apathy. If only they would stop. © Rocco Jarman
Be the change you want to see.
It is time to ask yourself what the world will look like when the cogs and tumblers, of machines that never sleep, have ushered all eyes and ears towards the pedlars of mass produced baubles and cheap shiny tack and away from the deeper wells, that touch our souls and nourish us.
There is a substack app which allows you to comment, rate, read posts and also a pretty good text-to-speech feature that turns your favourite articles to podcasts.
Please comment and share if you take value from these articles. You may be reading this on email but I encourage you to visit the substack site and engage directly. Other creatives and generators will appreciate this as well. These folks need our help too. They need our discernment and our effort to engage, to promote and to value them.
I have created an online project to raise awareness about this idea, the empowerment of users to and passive followers on social media (we all do this), to take some accountability for our discernment and our effort in connecting with creators of what which we find beautiful and meaningful. Kindly visit the Project to see if you feel called to help: TheMurmuration.org