OK, I’ll stop now.
There are such strong forces in place to make us conform. From our parents to our schooling, to our media and our innate herd instincts. We are faced with compelling narratives that encourage us not to think for ourselves and not to risk standing out.
But these are the very same narratives that cause our unhappiness, that make us feel that we are somehow or other not good enough, that we haven’t matched up to some standard set by others against which we measure ourselves.
The hardest thing is that the strongest voice in this coercive system of control is in our own heads. The chattering monkey that never shuts up is running a constant commentary on our thoughts and actions and is usually not a cheerleader!
But we don’t have to listen to it. We don’t have to fit in and we don’t have to behave. Even if we fear that to not behave is going to unleash some sort of second Hitler that is hidden deep in our psyche we have to ignore that nonsense and trust ourselves to be ourselves.
If we weren’t so confused and beaten up by the voices yelling at us from inside and out we would would be calm. We could be gentle. We would be kind. It is our natural state. Why on earth would we be otherwise?
iOS16 lets you select various types of your own photographs to appear on rotation on your lock screen. I selected nature and cities and because I’ve been lucky enough to be to so many amazing places, and the cameras on the phones these days are so good, I keep thinking that what is appearing on my lock screen is professional clipart!
This, from Henry Miller via whiskey river, captures my current thinking so accurately.
“To keep the mind empty is a feat, a very healthful feat too. To be silent the whole day long, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself. The book-learning gradually dribbles away; problems melt and dissolve; ties are gently severed; thinking, when you deign to indulge in it, becomes very primitive; the body becomes a new and wonderful instrument; you look at plants or stones or fish with different eyes; you wonder what people are struggling to accomplish by their frenzied activities; you know there is a war on but you haven’t the faintest idea what it’s about or why people should enjoy killing one another (…)
We need peace and solitude and idleness. If we could all go on strike and honestly disavow all interest in what our neighbor is doing we might get a new lease of life. We might learn to do without telephones and radios and newspapers, without machines of any kind, without factories, without mills, without mines, without explosives, without battleships, without politicians, without lawyers, without canned goods, without gadgets, without razor blades even or cellophane or cigarettes or money. This is a pipe dream, I know. People only go on strike for better working conditions, better wages, better opportunities to become something other than they are.”
– Henry Miller
The Colossus of Maroussi