I can’t claim to be an expert on Latin, however the title of this post is meant to express, “A Message From Rock Bottom.” I’ll need to elaborate on what I mean by that, before someone decides to jump down my digital throat with how much worse they have it than me. You can stuff that, because, just the same as how there potentially will always be someone better than you at a given thing, there is always the chance that life might be shitting on someone worse than it is for you at that time.
What I mean by rock bottom isn’t necessarily in the material sense, though there are currently some approaching threats to my meager material security. On paper, I’ve been in worse fixes in life. However, speaking of the state of my heart, as in, hope, love, the very notion that life is itself worth living, well, these last few months have been among the most daunting and challenging fragments of time in my existence.
What is the root cause of this hopelessness? Unfortunately it’s not so simple as to have a single point of origin that I can thus throw all of my energy into combatting. It’s a combination of factors: watching the majority of the “free world” become willing to throw away liberty in the blink of an eye in exchange for a false sense of security; seeing so many people I used to call friends, family in all but blood, turn their backs on me over expressing my true self, or me having to see them for what they really are and what they stand for when the chips are down, calling back to the aforementioned overreaction to the unspecified virus of unknown origin; seeing myself, despite having achieved a great liberation with how I get to live in my own body and how I express what is within, still shackled to the same patterns of fear and destruction that have characterized my teenage and adult lives. These, along with some accompanying tertiary factors, contribute to an overwhelming pull towards nihilism and despair. Why should I try to build or achieve anything in a society that is willing to throw away everything that entire generations of humans built at a terrible cost, because they let the media and their “leaders” and “experts” spook them? Why should I try to forge a future and possibly move toward starting a family when our everyday existence is trashing our home planet? Why should I keep trying my hand at love when I constantly fall for those who will never see me the way I see them, or when I consistently brush up with those who only want to use or abuse me? Why, knowing my weaknesses and vulnerabilities, should I keep getting off the ground when I am constantly beat down from doing work I was not meant to do, putting what little energy I do have into the gigantic, number crunching meatgrinder that is big corpo?
Perhaps my leading statement in the previous paragraph was off-base, perhaps there is a single underlying answer to all of those propositions: fear. I have so little patience for the fear I see in others, because it so much a reflection of the fear I hold myself, and because I know how destructively useless, ludicrously toxic, and perniciously defeating fear is. Fear is an animal impulse that has its place. Fear stops us from stepping close to the edge of a cliff, keeps us away from a creature with a venomous bite, curtails us from veering into oncoming traffic. It has utility, but because it is so deeply and firmly hardwired into our survival mechanisms, it unfortunately has been abstracted out into our modern lives. I have spent so much of my life living in constant states of terror, particularly when faced with social situations, anything that involves the risks of being shunned, ostracized, judged, and otherwise deemed unworthy by those whom I so desperately want to associate with. Along with my natural agreeability and submissiveness from my temperament, and my perpetual low energy level (being introverted contributes to this, and constantly being in states of high alert due to fear are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting), it’s no wonder that I have ended up as easy prey to users and abusers, whether in my love life, in my peer groups, or in the workplace.
Even as recently as a few months ago, I failed to listen to my instincts and allowed myself to be railroaded into a job I did not want, could not perform, and which only contributed to my ill feelings to an exorbitant degree. Thus did the cycle perpetuate itself again, because I was afraid to stand up for myself, and because I have been afraid to say to hell with work I’m “supposed” to do. While I am a defender of liberty and of free enterprise in principle, the reality is that there is nothing to be grateful for when the majority of the rote, socially acceptable, and on paper “meaningful” jobs involve being a digit on some giant corporation’s spreadsheet, doing inane, thankless, soul-crushing menial tasks in fast food, retail, finance, distribution, and production. Our civilizations and our species have expanded too much, too fast, we allowed technology itself to leapfrog our sociological development, we normalized the profiteering of debt and consumer culture, and one consequence is now the job market is saturated by arbitrary, toxic work. Whoever conceptualized and solidified notions such as “the customer is always right” deserve to be lambasted for fostering emotional and mental abuse of whole generations of humans for the sake of profit.
Ah, but I am digressing. What good is all of this writing, this digital posturing? If here I sit at rock bottom, my life devoid of hope and meaning, how am I supposed to find such things again? If I am aware of the ills that plague me, that have been barriers to me doing more with After Terra and all of my other creations, how do I break the cycle? How is one person supposed to buttress herself against her nation, her civilization, the unnecessary chaos, destruction, and suffering inflicted by those “leading” it, how does she find her footing amidst the mechanisms that determine the success or failure of creators?
I don’t have all of the answers, or even many of them, but I have pontificated enough to resolve upon one: I must eliminate fear from my life and encourage others to do the same. I have to look at it empirically: what good has fear done for me? If it is designed to protect from danger, what danger has it truly shielded me from? If I’m afraid of rejection, judgment, shunning, being misunderstood, how has hunkering down inside my home and just getting by on whatever table scrap jobs this world hands out, protected me from those things? They happen anyway, only slower and more insidiously. Which, funny enough, is an interesting parallel to the viral situation of unknown origin, as all of the incredible, far-reaching, and as yet uncalculated damage caused by measures ostensibly meant to protect people from getting sick and/or dying have only spread the same amount of sickness, misery, and death out over a longer period of time, with the bonus round additions of tremendous damages to general mental health and an increasing fracture of an already hotly divided society. Same net result, only the victims and survivors are left exhausted and strung out from the ordeal, less capable of fighting any new threats that can and will emerge with the passage of time.
So, this forces me to put myself in check over my own bullshit. What point is there in being so fucking afraid? Whatever meager and ill-defined protection I might have gleaned from keeping my nose down and staying quiet has given me, what, exactly? It has provided me a life so far filled mostly with regret, the aforementioned perpetual fear, and I am no less brushing up with rejection and judgment, only perhaps not often in as blatant and obvious ways as a successful person might encounter them. It could possibly even be argued that by being so afraid of such things, and allowing that fear to characterize the way I move through the world, it has morphed into a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. For have I not so often observed that those who preach of and supposedly warn against doomsday, tend to act in such ways as to bring about that very doomsday? One of my abusive past partners told me that my very fear of losing her was going to push her away… that might be a cruel thing to say to a romantic partner who is confiding their vulnerabilities, yet there is a certain truth to that which I must begrudgingly admit. She might have turned out to be a cheating bitch who was using me to attempt a baby trap, but even broken clocks can sometimes be right.
I first started composing After Terra in earnest in late 2014. Fear was what had kept me from starting that work sooner, and though I had conquered it to an extent, that fear metamorphosized into one that caused me to prematurely push Year 200 out the door in mid-2016 when it absolutely was not ready. Fear has caused me to start/stop so many dips into the creative pool, whether with writing, music, Youtube productions, really anything that involves risk and me putting my heart and soul, if you will, out there into the world. It is a vulnerable, naked thing to do. The internet and its too-soon introduction to an immature species has given rise to a segment of the populace that thinks it’s okay or even cool to shit all over other people and their work because of anonymity, because these new digital mediums allow people to say shit and behave in ways they never would dare try to someone’s face. Also, frankly, sometimes even what might be intended as constructive criticism can be soul-destroying if presented poorly or if it hits you at the wrong place, wrong time. Sometimes even the fairest rejections can feel like a punch in the gut. There are also crazies and stalkers out there, who because of the internet have more tools at their disposal to harass their targets and endanger their lives and livelihoods. Because of these things, it is even easier to be afraid, because it’s not totally unreasonable or irrational to be wary of and on the defensive about putting oneself out there, exposed to the cruelty of the digital public.
But what choice is there, really? Keep this cycle going and be miserable for the rest of my life, or really, truly take a chance on the life of a creator, deal with the risks, and go for a life that actually has at least some hope, meaning, and purpose? Not unlike Neo’s moment with Morpheus and the pills, there isn’t much of a choice there. As Trinity observed, “you’ve been down that road, Neo. You know exactly where it ends, and I know that’s not where you want to be.”
I’m tired of walking to the end of that rainy, lonely road. Shall we escape it together?