“It is almost our tragic fate as modern people to long for meaning and receive only explanation.” Daniel Pinchbeck
To surmise my hunger for knowledge as a rudimentary past time would be, for lack of a better term, deplorable. There is a source internally which drives my mind to become saturated in the underbelly of the physical presence of our existence. Often I feel as though my ability to simply co-exist amid the hustle and bustle of modern times is too complicated to fathom. I don’t see, or feel, as though who I am, and what I am looking for, will be found, or welcomed, in this era of human existence. In short; I am a believer that our species evolved far too quickly in the realm of technology, thus losing touch with the simple characteristics of what being human is all about. Now we scour so aggressively for the next big “Thing” to be born into fruition, latch on, and wait for the holy financial gods to bless our “years of hard work” with millions upon millions of the all mighty dollar. I can’t compete with this cut throat ideal that our fellow man should fall before our digital hungry explosion into the pre artificial intelligence generation of sub-humans to enter after our demise. Days I spend walking to work are often encapsulated by my eyes engorging others around me, watching as they decline from human to robot in my imagination. Or, am I seeing truth…
Cryptic, I know, these posts of mine. But they do have purpose, I am sure of it. Let me digress into the story here for a moment, it’s a simple tale, I promise, void of the charm to which my poetic structure often dilutes. The other day I was sitting in my mothers antique shop reading 2012: The Return of Quetzacoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck, when an elderly woman perused through the front door. Lost in translation, having thought she walked through the jewelers shop, but rather, stumbled upon me, with my book, in a plethora of antiquities. As I always do I greeted her with a smile and a hello, and engaged in banter as she slowly began the journey through our small shop, commenting on pieces that are long deemed obsolete by our generation of Ikea idealists. She told me about how her great grandmother had used hand beaters to churn cream into “fluff”, how her and her siblings would come home from school and churn butter on the front porch before dinner, and explained to me how one properly attaches yokes to working livestock in the fields. Naturally, I became entranced with her soft voice sharing stories of a life to which I will never experience, a jealousy to which will always be abound in my soul. When she came across a photograph of San Francisco from the 1940’s, her voice exploded into a hearty laughter of a fond nostalgic moment. I couldn’t help but join her and ask for the story behind the joy.
“When I was about your age back in the 70’s, I left my husband – he was an awful man, nothing but grief and just a brute – and drove my motorcycle down the west coast. All the way down to Mexico, I did. And I tell you, I learned a lot about the kindness of decent folk on that trip. People opened their doors to me, a single woman on her own with nothing but dried berries and nuts to fuel me the whole trip. See, my motorcycle wasn’t that big! I had to make room for my sleeping bag and tent. Anyways, I tell you, I met some of the most loving people in those months.”
She shared how strangers offered her nourishment, let her store her motorcycle in their garages as she roamed cities throughout the day, poverty stricken families who offered her what little they had. She told me of the nights she spent in Death Valley, sitting in a hot spring watching as the sun depleted behind the cliffs, the shadow of the landscape raging to engulf her body in the chill of night. Each word she shared was more luscious than the last, igniting within me this idealist who still believes that compassion is tucked away in the most devious of souls, that people will be there for you, that hope and love are still the main components of our psyche. That one truly can depend on the kindness of strangers. That a single woman can travel alone without the fear of being raped, abused, abducted, murdered, tortured, or kidnapped as she explores the world. That our societies encourage the growth of each individual through the means to which they deem appropriate for them, and that we are not ruled or governed under an umbrella of oppression. But then she turned to me and confessed what I already knew:
“You can’t do that now though, dear, no. It’s not the same for young women as it was in my day.”
Which is true, it isn’t a safe world for solo travel anymore, especially for a woman ( although, I still am in denial about a woman’s independence to travel alone as a viable, safe method of travel ). There has been this sudden upheaval of women’s rights throughout North America as of late, which would rather condemn women of any equality, than encourage us to be strong humans. Hell, often I feel as though being a woman is to exist below the equivalency of a dog, or bovine. Hearing her share this honest sentiment with me suddenly shattered my short-lived dreams of being on a motorcycle traveling through those ancient bad lands, seeing the splendor that cannot’ be expressed through words.
She shared more with me before she left to the jewelers, departing with a smile and a firm hug, well wishes and a promise to pop in again and swap more tales. It was nearly 4 in the afternoon and her presence had kick-started my mind into a whole new presence of contemplation. The bonus of working in a family business is the power to regulate your own hours, so I locked up early, put on my headphones, and began my walk home, letting my head turn over what I had just been privy too.
I have often wondered why I adopted the ritual of self abuse through the means of mutilation and my eating disorder. Why I, as a small child, learned that I was imperfect in this world, and had to, by cruel methods, punish myself for not being what I was supposed to be. What I believe is that I am frustrated and unruly in a world that wants me to be an obedient servant to a culture that is fractured, barbaric, and out of touch with any conception of what compassion truly is. How can I love myself when I am not viewed as worthy in my species? How can I respect myself when all that I do is considered pathetic, pitiful, below average, or disgusting, in a world of my fellow persons? Of course I learned to hate myself. It was me who was not fitting into this life, it was me who was failing to be that woman, or that mother, or that wife, or that thing to which happiness can be found. I am not conforming, and I am experiencing the backlash of what it means to be an independent person in this world; unkind malice from millions who condone to the abuse of a person based on their ideologies, individuation, culture, or desire to not be the next founder of Google or Facebook. I learned to hate myself and be a “better me” because I was taught that no matter the skills I acquired, I would never be good enough. I would never be my best. Fuck. What does best even mean?
I am not here on this Earth, living this life, to please the masses. I am not here for your enjoyment or ridicule. I am here to live my life, to study my religion or spirituality of my choosing, I am here to believe in the stories and fairy-tales to which I love, and I am most certainly not here to live the life of a fictional person to which my culture, my fellow person tells me can be achieved through due diligence and strict diets. This is my life. This is my fairy-tale.