In my experience there is a huge sense of ‘this cannot be different’ among people when they once in a while are stopped and forced to think about the world. All the crime, poverty, violence and war out there (and sometimes close by).
That sense of powerlessness is paralyzing and usually leads to people, well, thinking about something else rather quickly. That is my experience anyway and I do understand it.
When I was younger and a student (of course!) I loved to discuss more social justice and how to bring it about.
Now I am older, with more obligations and probably also more disillusioned, although I definitely believe in a better society still. But I do tend to not allow myself many moments wondering about it.
There is another task for me to be sure. If I – idealistic as I consider myself – have also become prone to ‘not thinking too much about a better world’ … then what hope is there? How can I ask people are busier than I am and even less idealistic … to think more about what we could do to change the world?
I don’t have an answer. It is something about striving to be a better example, perhaps. And starting small.
Perhaps it is easier to show other people that you are into organic foods and let that be an example. It is certainly easier than discussing world food policy.
Who can do something about that?
Yes, who indeed?
People who have had terrible experiences are not looking at first for explanations of someone else’s belief in their innate metaphysical responsibility of the awful experiences that have befallen them, like rape or loss of a child or serious illness. They are looking for empathy.
That is not particularly difficult to understand, if you come from my world. What is difficult is showing empathy to the people who don’t understand it.
But leading by example should still work. It has to.
One thing I learned at hospital many years ago, and after I got out, is that you can’t win by waiting for the perfect solution to come up before you act.
You have to act, step by step, to do something that works. In other words: If you feel like 90 per cent crap and you go do the dishes because that is all you can muster the energy to do, then that is better than sitting and trying to think of the perfect solution.
What to do to heal all your wounds, use all your time for the best, etc.
Think about that before you act, and you can think a long time.
A friend of mine who was admitted to the psychiatric ward at much the same time as I, is a pensioner today. He does not have a strong purpose.
His ‘purpose’ if it even exists in any meaningful form, is mostly about surviving and getting by. More concretely it is about being safe, and about doing stuff he enjoys like reading or watching television.
Of course his case is more complicated than that brief glimpse, but it does make one wonder, doesn’t it?
I mean, my friend and I went through the same ordeal more or less at the same time.
We had very similar symptoms of anxiety and depression, strong enough for us to be admitted to hospital. Me in 2005. Him in 2006.
Today one of us is still in there. In a kind of hospital.
But one thing can be measured, for what it is worth: The Blog itself. If it keeps growing year by year and keeps getting traffic and at one time the Putin bots that now are my only regular visitors will be replaced by engaged human beings … then that is a yardstick for impact.
However crude and imperfect.
And I believe it is a better impact – given my experience, talent and skill – then I can give in this life as a social worker or a worker in a social justice organisation, paid or voluntary.
I will not say no to such positions if opportunity arises and it feels right.
But right now the point is moot, because it doesn’t really look like I can qualify for any meaningful position within the humanitarian organisations anymore, and as regards work for individual persons, e.g. as a helper for the disabled, I just don’t have that much to give anymore. I am not getting younger and the job is hard. And it doesn’t scale at all – so: Extremely limited impact.
But even if I could get a job in, say, Action Aid International I would still feel that The Blog is, as far as I can see right now, the best thing I can give to the world.
And that means that my drawing is free from that demand.
And good riddance.
I don’t need to change the world via drawing, or storytelling.
I just need to draw.
I realize and remember that there is no alternative to hope.
Even if you have to wait to begin hoping for something better because your mind feels like ice.
What you can’t throw away is the awareness that there has to come a time again, when there will be a thaw. And then wait for that time.
The alternative is to wait for nothing, which is death, and that is not an alternative.
These customers, for whom I have built websites, seem to be a good fit for a product – and then again …
One guy is the younger man who buys domain names, advertisement campaigns and new sites and plugins, and doesn’t use all of them by half. He might be a good fit for this product. At the very least he would buy it and shelf it like many of his other purchases … :-}
Another is the middle-aged female lifestyle blogger, who had a lot of trouble getting started on WordPress but who is determined to do everything herself (and has to, because of a small budget). That includes marketing and business in general. In fact, I think she might be a better fit, if we all agree that it is the highest goal for people to actually use this product after purchase.
I am tempted to say it is not the highest goal, because I sorely need money now. And I can’t take responsibility for people’s use and non-use of what I sell them.
OTOH again: If I am not aspiring to my highest goals on The Blog, then there is nowhere else to do it.
I have to keep myself accountable here.
But if more “pride” really is what is missing (too) after a year with a baby and all sorts of other distractions, then right now the next thing I want to prioritize that can make me proud of myself – and her more proud of me – is just that boring old thing:
To go out there and earn money for the family.
And it is the right priority now.
Then there will be other times when the other priorities must be higher.
Whenever we move for a long time in a certain direction, towards something we really want, there’ll be obstacles.
We have to accept that.
And keep moving.
Just getting up, getting out the door, going to the Royal Library, doing the best I could with my time there, but still taking care of urgent tasks that I felt could not be ignored for all sorts of reasons. Some of the good, some less good.
That’s a bit muddled, but it’s life I guess.
Not perfect, but keeping the right course.
In general: I don’t leave people.
And I do keep promises.
And I do do my best to help, even if it means making someone happy that they have a nice-looking webshop despite soon having to close the real shop.
That’s what I do and that’s who I am. And somehow that feels quite all right.
There seems to be a remarkably close relationship between what we sell, why we sell it and then to how we relate to people who help us sell.
Sometimes there are surprises, though, so take nothing for granted – esp. about other humans.
But be wary when its all about surface and big words and not so much about affecting others in positive ways.
Fuck the role. Admit that you don’t have any good role to play in this situation, but that it is okay.
That is difficult. Extremely difficult. But it’s something I want more of. And I want to be with more people who want more of it.
We need to see our life as story where we can grow and become the best reflection of a saint.