On nights like these, when the crickets are chirping away, hidden from my eyes, I am often alone in contemplation after a day of meaningless meandering. I often feel a sense of loneliness and a hole of meaninglessness even as nature soothes my mind.
I do not know what I want from life other than an escape from this oppressive hopelessness and meaninglessness. As I have grown up, it feels, as one old friend put it, as if I am adrift, anchor-less, in the world.
It seems to me that I want more from life, but reality was not made by the true will of the people. It was made to serve the distinct interests of the powerful, settling for change only when the bloodshed is too much for the eyes of the rulers. A part of me thinks this yearning is a selfish desire for greatness, for attention. I yearn to be a part of something important, something heroic, something that is able to change the world in a way that brings a better tomorrow. It feels both childish and primal. Wanting to matter and be considered important and influential may be my mind telling me that I lack connection, that I am wandering the world with many thoughts but barred from many entryways—the most important of which lies in the matters of the heart.
Perhaps it is the desire for greatness that dooms me to obscurity. I can write the greatest essay in the world, but such ideas mean nothing if they pass through deaf ears. It means nothing if there is no way to share in life the triumphs and frustrations that resonates with me. I can sit here and critique every attempt to improve the world and to point out every issue, but what is the point if we are living in a state of paralysis? Words are so easily written, but what about building up endeavors in reality?
To change the world feels like pushing against this oppressive mood that pervades all my relationships. Somehow, meaning and change became entangled in the foundations of my sense of connection. To counter a cynicism that feels too accurate for our times is a desperate cry for community and solidarity and survival. Without meaningful community, each of us dwindles. Each of us suffers. Each of us find ourselves confronted with meaninglessness and hopelessness somewhere in our minds.
It is hard to feel optimistic in the face of so many barriers, to hope that there can be something different, when our trust for each other has fallen so low. I falter to reason that humans can truly go beyond self serving goals—after all my own desires for change and meaning is for the sake of wanting to fill the hole in my heart of feeling disconnected from others and feeling a looming nothingness in the face of everything. How can one transcend such selfishness if the world actively bares down upon you to crush you, to desecrate what you hold dear, and to mould you into the obedience that people find, after many years of toiling and injuries, is most comforting and of least resistance? I can understand why people fall into cynicism. It is far easier to accept defeat and to tend to the small garden of our narrow lives than to try to tend to the greater arena of life’s most pressing problems.
I wish, most of all, in my selfish heart, that I can meet people who understand, without needing much conversation, the world like I do, while offering an uniquely complex alternative to the stale cynicism that has comfortably settled in. Such demands feel unreasonable, and at times, futile. The peers who relate see how much is constrained by a lack of coherent camaraderie. Many blame it on the economic systems, but I bitterly wonder if there are enough people of strong character that could create a new system that is not more vulnerable to corruption as the one we have now.
I feel a sense of tiredness, of wanting to stow away from the world and to never encounter it again. I feel a sense of arrogance to believe that I know better than most, but the more I engage, the more this arrogance is fed. It is how I perceive what entails progress being possible that disappoints me when I see the imperfections of of what exists.
Without people committed to each in unison, without a desire to sacrifice and genuinely work towards the wellbeing of each other, without understanding and passionate loyalty among members, without patience and tenacity to draw bridges, without a shared creed, we find ourselves going no where and scattered everywhere at once. But to create such conditions lends itself easily to cultish behaviors and groupthink. It’s far easier to inspire and coalesce around easy to understand and emotion-laden maxims than to seriously engage the mind. This is in part because each of us are biased and find ourselves divided by trivial differences. One can combine together a powerful force in temporary emotion, but it often does not last as these differences become obvious.
One most be loyal to basic principles of compassion and care for the other, to being willing to see the core humanity of each person and respect such, not by a matter of emotional manipulation, but as a matter of independent reflection and introspection, through both humbling personal experiences and through the waves of empathy that moves one’s heart towards wanting to alleviate suffering. One must see loyalty as fighting for the same principles but also in the hard and difficult work of balancing being as critical of ideas as the most cynical elder, to test each proposition in the flames of rational discussion and debate endlessly, while still being open minded as a child who is idealistic and eager to learn. One must be both aspirational and practical, with foresight and with humbled hindsight, with both steadfast beliefs and a willingness to change. One must be willing to stand with the group, but also assert their independent thoughts, to be empathetic and emotionally attached to each member but yet capable of emotional distance to ideas and criticism.
To achieve such balance, is, furthermore, not static. It is dynamic. Just as a team needs to know when to charge in to the fight and when to fall back depending on the circumstances of each battle and the methods of the opposing team, so does thought and action require adaptability. No situation is ever entirely the same just as one is never the same stepping into the same river. A well seasoned team may use similar principles to gather intelligence and to plan, but each battle fought requires instinct and adaptability to address the weaknesses and strengths that appear instantaneously on the battlefield. Likewise, one idea for one situation may not be wise in another. Knowing when to apply and when to go with another option is an exercise of timing, thought, trial and error, and luck.
To pull the heart and weave its strings while retaining the cool of the mind is to ask for a kind of enlightenment that goes beyond the current wishes, desires, abilities, and willpower of most people. This is where I feel the most arrogance in my cynicism. We are faced with such great expectations and requirements and responsibilities, but I severely doubt the capabilities of our world to truly create such conditions among most people. This is not because of personal failings or inadequacies—no. This is due to the sheer amount of resources and effort required to craft an individualized experience that guides all citizens towards all of these traits. I see our education system, riddled with inequities, trying to hobble towards this goal, and I see the forces trying to corrupt its force for selfish greed. I have doubts about my own abilities to be able to achieve such, so how does one reach for something beyond one’s own capabilities?
There might even be disagreement about the vision I have set forth. An easy protest is that some people are truly too bigoted, too discriminatory, to be a part of the conversation. I agree, as a closed heart and a closed mind often go together, but we must balance cynicism towards bad faith actors with openness that some people can change if they are willing. It may be difficult to know the difference, but without hope for change, we will never carve at the root issue, merely chopping away at the easily visible leaves that regrow so quickly.
Perhaps, in our imperfect world, one must plan for imperfect progress that often falls backwards as a feature rather than an unplanned inconvenience. One must use imperfect tools and imperfect solutions, but I doubt the lasting change that can happen if we devolve into believing that the ends justify the means. A corrupted consequence done in the name of justice will never truly be justice for all as it merely creates inequities in new forms and in other ways just as releasing new predators into the wild to cull a pest will eventually make a pest and hazard out of the now overpopulation of predators.
I do not know where to start with these desires, ambitions, and needs for something better, but I take some solace in writing them out. Knowing that I have a clearer end goal in mind allows me to establish, in my world, what it is that I truly yearn for. In an ideal world such would be common to find a person who balances all. It would be as if I am at home in knowing that others look out for me while inspiring me to grow. I can only hope that one day, in the far future, someone else will experience the joys of such a world. That is what I can hold onto for the future.