So much is wrong. So much is just so so wrong. What a bleak time. Natural disaster after natural disaster, impending economic collapse, surreptitious wars being fought with robots and secret motives, limitations on ways we can provide for ourselves, and brainwashing media and consumerism making placated idiots of us all. Everyday I find myself losing the idealist inside me. I feel divided by my hope for my ideal future and my pessimism that it is all just a pipe dream. Potentially every person hits a point in their adult life when they are faced with the harsh realities of adulthood but they have not let go of their vision for how beautiful and simple life could be, if lived “right.” I am now married, I have finished grad school, I have a career as a dancer and artist, I have no children, no financial assets, and all of my parents. I am at a place in my life where my idealism is struggling to survive in the face of my experiential adult reality.
In the last few years I’ve learned from observation that aging and dying are not graceful: the process of aging can be painful, lonely, and embarrassing; the process of dying can be so undignified and terrifying: it can tear family and lovers apart in hatred and refusal to accept and greed for what remains. So called respectable or “real” jobs –if they can be found- can liquefy people’s goodness into discontent and solidify their easiness into tight muscles of stress and anxiety. The American dream of owning a home or land –if it can be attained- is a contract for life into debt that tugs at your pockets, making people stay in jobs and cities they hate because they can’t get out. I look at my future with my husband and I don’t want a meaningless job for him, bills that make us stressed and unhealthy, I want a cozy place to call home, I want a piece of the American dream, I want to make art and build community and eat good food. I don’t want to raise children who will be trained to surrender their privacy and freedoms, who will be taught the curriculum of politicized public education, who may see the worst of a series of natural disasters that just seem to be getting more frequent. I don’t want to die of cancer like everyone seems to be…this freak mutation that is a result of ingesting and inhaling this chemical soup we live in. I am looking for inspiration and reaffirmation that life is beautiful and malleable and enjoyable and that it is possible to endure and minimize all the suffering and injustice that comes along with it. My mom is pushing the baby issue, I am voting for a president I don’t believe in, and I am supposed to be “moving onto the next stage” of my partnership: breeding or buying.
I recently took a sabbatical to visit my hometown and sleep in my childhood bedroom. In the closet of my old room in my mother’s house I have a few boxes of sentimental things from my adolescence: journals, yearbooks, school projects, costumes, and my wedding gown. Late last night when my parents were asleep I dragged over a chair to the closet and stood on the swiveling base to reach my boxes. I wanted to find my vision book: a book I made when I was 18, out of cloth, paper, string, and snaps. In it I reflectively evaluated my character, my talents and my challenges. I wrote a hundred point bucket list of things I want to do before I die. I described in detail what a day in my life at forty years old would be like. I wanted to find the book because I wanted to see how my vision for myself has changed and to see what I could check off from that epic list of life to-dos. But more than wanting to see how I measure up to my young plans for myself, I wanted some guidance. I wanted to look into those cloth pages and see something clear. I wanted to look into that book like a tarot spread or a vision of god and ask my younger self: where am I going? What am I capable of? What do I want and is it even possible?
I pulled down the book’s box and opened it on the bed. The title read:
Without opening the cover I was endeared to my young idealist self immediately and to the teacher who assigned the task of making this book. “Personal Transformation” and “Social Change” are near one another as if they exist interdependently. Upon reading the title I was transported back to an unexpected place: two years ago to my wedding. That day my husband and I stood in front of a yogi minister couple who spoke to us and our guests about marriage being a partnership that is bigger than the two individuals entering it. A marriage between two good people is a promise to help one another be a positive force in the world. The guidance I was seeking from my younger idealist self, from this old book, began right away: every big life decision I make should be bigger than myself. Personal transformation has to be in the service of social change or it means nothing. My goals for myself can not exist separately from my goals for society. My marriage, my career as an artist, my idealism about food and lifestyle are bigger than personal life choices: they are actions toward a hopeful vision of the future. Below the book’s title, under a flap of paper sewn onto the fabric cover, read a collection of pasted words: Goals, Dreams, Self, Selfless.
This book is so interesting to read six and a half years after making it. So much has happened in my life in the last six years. I have become awake to so many things that I did not know when I was eighteen. Sometimes it seems though, that the more awake I become the more clouded I am about what I stand for and what I want. The entries are embarrassing, and charming, and truthful. I wrote all kinds of things I wanted to do but one phrase stood out to me last night. Reading this sentence, I got the affirmation, courage, and positivity I was looking for:
“I want to surround myself with conscious creative human beings.”
I read that sentence and I know that’s what I want for my life. I know I can achieve that goal. Reminding myself of that goal, I feel like I can take a big breath of fresh air and strap myself in for a very unconventional, community-focused, art and productivity based future -uncertain as it may be. I know there is something bigger than me out here. Mystics, sages, and prophets have all had different visions, but I know from their stories and my own, that just one fleeting moment of oneness with the creative source that made this crazy world will steal anyone for the harsh realities of being a human. Because I truly believe that we are all more than human and we live for those moments of truth and oneness.
This entry feels unfinished, my angst doesn’t feel resolved. But I got a dose of inspiration and really that’s all I look for everyday.