life as means. hope. existence

Is interesting how things change in life — priorities, desires, the way we relate to each other, what we do and our expectations (amongst many other things). Our lives are very structured, sometimes in ways we do not necessarily like and some speak out against and seek to challenge. It seems that when we are young (perhaps I am romanticising) there are more things that we would like to do than the time required to do them. When older, if/when we find we have substantial free time available it seems some (many, most?) of us are at a loss for what to do…

A quick response to this is we are products of our own existences and we live in and under an economic system that is very controlling. When younger we go through the stages of educating ourselves to become active and efficient participants in this system. When older, the majority of our lives are spent as cogs in the machine. Life fits into the fraction of time left. Take out some or a significant part of the time required at work and we can find ourselves at a loss for what to do with this new free time.

Many will say it takes time for us to re-discover our true selves, our desires and wants to effectively use this time to pursue experiences, happiness, love and relationships. Many more will also say that as current circumstances are so structured around consumption and that when only a handful of people are afforded such spare time, it is not that easy and the means for enjoying such experiences are not readily available. Our mindsets become so altered from when we were younger that it is not straightforward or simple to adapt to such changes.

Whilst I agree with sentiments of such ideas, it seems that at times the easy way out is what is pursued. We do not want to do the work required. We put it in the too hard basket. Cynics, and perhaps a number of realists, would counter that the way our existences are structured, attempting to transcend and escape these boundaries is made harder and merely sidestepping yet remaining constrained are positioned as an easy way out. In not denying that, do we or should we really want things to be easy?

On the surface, yes may be an apt and acceptable response. Yet, are things perceived as hard because we focus on distant ends? Do we lose sight, much like the sentiments of some of my recent thoughts, of the trees for the forest? Are we focussed on the notion of the big picture, the end game, the goal. Do we lose sight of life. We (should) live everyday. More than means reflecting the ends, the means are also the ends.

These could all be outcomes of our structured existence. Our seeking to become comfortable, to escape some of the trials and tribulations of existing with many aspects of our lives that are outside of our control. Yet, if we are merely existing hoping for a change later in life, to achieve some semblance or arrangement of perceived comfort or greater control, are we really living at all? Some may counter, do we really have a choice…

My thoughts here are not intended to say someone is right, someone is wrong. Rather, I think we do at times lose sight of what living is. I have seen it more amongst those who are at the (wrong) end of the stick, those more directly exploited by relations of capital. It is also quite prevalent amongst those seeking to challenge injustice who are also disproportionate victims. Sometimes it is hard to see beyond the injustices we face, to get out of the mindset of our own exploitation. The question is, do we become constrained as much as to crete a double bind, a double exploitation that we are partly responsible for?

I sat down to write this without a clear direction, rather a means to put some ideas down whilst also helping myself to understand the non-considered or unconscious reasons behind some decisions I have made and have seen in others of late. Life is full of changes. That is one certainty.

We are often not in control, and this is not always a bad thing. I (try to) accept this, though am also making a concerted effort to live with the means as the ends, as part of the means reflecting the ends. This is not proving easy, and involves many aspects of live beyond my control. To some extent, this is where the notion of hope comes in. I adopt, albeit without some of the negative connotations, the definition and explanation of hope that Derrick Jensenwhich I penned some thoughts on back in early 2006: hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency. Whereas Jensen calls for moving Beyond Hope ‘to become a better activist for the environment and social justice’, in life, love and happiness sometimes hope is all we have. Sometimes we need to give up the semblance and notion of being in a position of power — not an easy thing to accept and attempt.

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