Modern Life 1: What the Hell do we Want?
The familiar knot in the spine, knitted by the shoulder blades, pulled taught everyday by our missed calls and rampant thoughts. Nothing notifications and the relentless liking of everything wearying us and whinnying away at our purpose and soul. The constant conversation telling ourselves that our thoughts are not real, merely little chemical synapses yawning and stretching.
There has been a lot of drivel written by drivelists regarding how problems of the mind are imagined and or feigned. Now that most in the “West” have food and water and shelter then we naturally shift our attention to the next most important thing as we perceive it. Often this is the mind, we go into ourselves.
We all know that the modern world is designed to drive all of us cracked. Nobody gives a damn about anyone else. Everyone delights in the misfortune of others. As I write I can hear a building site filled with hard working heavy machinery battering and excavating the planet. I can hear my neighbours as they go about their daily jobs which always seem to involve chainsaws. I can hear the idiot traffic from the roads, the occasional airplane and of course the everyday ribaldry and banter. I am no different to half the city.
In the quiet parts of the city you have the opposite: slowing rattling saucers, hurried breakfasts, seething manicured lawns, the soporific pukey tinge of milk everywhere; estates mined by toys and surrounded by silence.
My previous incarnation as a country mouse was no different. Sure, other things gouged my sanity but there are no less nor, probably, no more pricks or triggers; they are simply different.
So what do we do?
Well we don’t really know what to do, do we? No one ever teaches us how to think, do they? Are you the master of your own mind or are you the slave? We spend our days talking to ourselves as we go about the day skirting along the phrenic plane and generally trying not to unravel or pull at any of our loose tethers.
So what do you want?
Will it make you happy?
About twenty years ago television first realised that we were no longer that interested in the same things anymore. The focus shifted from ‘the Russians are coming’ to ‘the Arabs are coming’ plus ‘you are having a nervous breakdown’.
The seventies told us that they were out to get us. The eighties tried to kill love and clothes. The nineties assuaged our guilt with some sort of different or lesser guilt. That last decade showed us that while yes our enemies were at the gate that they had been lured here by us, and inside our brains we were the enemies and the gate was our sanity.
Our private stampeding panic brought about by any of the little slights we have to endure. Nothing prepares us for that person who cuts in front of us in the queue, who nearly kills us at the traffic light, who threatens to beat up their own children right in front of us. Physical engagement is anathema to our modern day foxtrot, our cautious waltz that cannot be avoided, that cannot be anything other than enjoined.
I don’t know the answers to these questions either. Most of my life I have been working towards even recognising the right questions. ‘Right’, so quaint. But as you get older and the perils become more they begin to worry you more and sometimes you can no longer remember how you did it. Each day the struggle is to keep the mind locked down and as the day winds and wanes that becomes more and more difficult. As in life, we start off every day with a living breathing planet of a mind, coiled tight and outward looking, poised to receive a few million messages a second, until the point comes when it is too much. This is when we should all do our own version of the reboot.
Dali used to hold a key above an upside down plate, when he drifted off he would drop the key clanking onto the bottom of the plate, and wake back up ready to paint bendier clocks and more landscaped crutches.