I almost forgot the anniversary of my protest. The day I chose me, my sanity, and my self-respect. It feels now like it was a sabbatical more than a new path. The enthusiasm with which I journeyed into my new reality hasn’t faded, but it has changed shapes and forms many times over the last year. Walking away from a well-paid job seemed foolhardy to almost everyone around me. Most considered it yet another impulsive decision, but almost no-one tried to understand it for what it was; the same way they chose to judge before understanding so many other decisions that I’ve taken over the years. I can’t hold it against them. Stepping into someone else’s reality is ever more daunting when our own reality already roots us to the spot with impossible-to-articulate fears.
I’ve learnt expensive lessons over the last year. Lessons that cost me financially, and reminded me of the nature of man. The world is so starved for hope that people quickly latch on to the promise of success without considering the commitment needed to see it through. Of these I have encountered many on my journey through life, but only fully experienced the desperation of such souls when faced up close and personal by their demons. Our demons subdue our conscience more often than the threat of poverty. Our demons threaten us with poverty to drive us towards despicable actions. I cannot count, and care not to count the number of people that drew strength from me in their darkness, but quickly disparaged me when they were reminded of their weakness after the sliver of light returned to their horizon.
The sad reality is that most of us settle for the dawn because we don’t believe we’re worthy of the sunrise. Feeling our way in the dark makes the reprieve of the early light appear as relief, or success. Fixated on the fear that the darkness may never recede, the first hints of light promise safety from that torturous space, so we bolt and brace ourselves to the miserable hope that it offers, hope that feels like sublime joy in the face of the darkness that we just experienced, too afraid to push on to the sunrise and the beginning of a new day. The new day remains a dream meant for greater spirits than ourselves, and the slivers of light arrest the fears of succumbing to the darkness again. Half a loaf of bread is not always better than none.
Wrenching myself away from people like that has been a difficult struggle and an unneeded distraction over the last year. Many sang my praises and celebrated me to the world in their moments of upliftment from the drudgery of their existence, but didn’t hesitate to shortchange me the moment the liberty returned to their tired souls. If trials prepare us for greatness, and the aid of the Almighty arrives when things seem most desperate, I have nothing to fear but settling for the dawn in the days ahead.
To settle for comfort and mediocrity when excellence appeared possible was never a choice I considered worthy of pursuit. I am reminded so often of the bitter expressions of darkened spirits that found my language to be flowery, and my ambition to be unrealistic. Recalling it now beckons the aftertaste of betrayal, but the overwhelming sense of sadness that I felt for them when I saw them lash out at the world because they allowed their social structures to define their worthlessness.
A year later, I still have a clear vision of what I wish to achieve, but I remain adrift in finding the correct course to take to achieve it. The pain and anguish of trying to reach beyond the confines of the environment that I am in makes the journey more onerous than it needs to be. Seeing what is wrong with your world and wanting to make it better only feels like a fulfilling endeavour when those who stand to benefit believe that there is something wrong as well. Complacency and fear combine to dull the vision of many. Sometimes it seems cruel to stir the sleeping dogs, yet at other times it feels obligatory if we hope to improve the state of this world before relinquishing our stake to the next generation.
Hope remains firmly footed, but enthusiasm is fading. Purpose continues to drive me to stretch myself beyond the confines of my current reality, but neither purpose nor vision pays the bills. Finding the balance is always a challenge, but not having the comfort of a predictable income makes it somewhat more distracting. Will I find the inspiration, the audience, and the sweet spot before my resources run out, or will I have to yield to the drudgery of capitalism and commoditise myself yet again to remain a functional member of a deranged society? If the last year was interesting, I doubt an adjective exists to fully describe what the year ahead holds for me.
That I have value to offer is not at all in question. I have tested this relentlessly over the years and confirmed it to be true. My challenge is to find a new audience, rather than the jaded ones that look for excellence as defined by the system of mediocrity that defines their lives. I am reminded of this quote:
I must learn to love the fool in me–the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my Fool.
Theodore Isaac Rubin
That I am a fool to believe in more than life has proven to be possible thus far is unquestionable. But, like village idiots, fools are needed to bring hope to those that have given up on hope itself. The struggle continues…