I don’t know if this will be helpful to anyone else, but I have been thinking about it a lot, and the more I think about it, the more it shifts my mindset away from despair and closer to something more hopeful. So I shall share my strange little mind wanderings in the hope that it helps some of you as well.
So, basically, as a species, we’re pretty fucked. The world is burning, figuratively and literally. There is a very real chance that if you’re under about 60 years old right now, you might live to see the end of humanity. By our own stupid, greedy, capitalist hands. We’re destroying our home, ripping holes in the ship on which we travel through space, with no functioning life rafts, and nowhere to go on them, even if we had them. So. That’s a thing. It’s a thing I struggle with constantly, because it is so big, and my problem-solving tendencies want to believe I can do something about it, but the simple truth is that I probably can’t. I just don’t have the kind of power needed to. There are small things I can do, and I try to do as many of them as I can, but it’s a bit like that old starfish story, except the sea is made of acid and the sand is getting hotter, and there really is no escape.
Cool. That’s a super hopeless view of the world, I realise. Here’s the thing I keep returning to though. Death is always there. Death is always just one mistake, one lump in your skin, one bad decision at a red light away. I don’t want to die. I am in no hurry to give all this up. But, let’s face it, it can come at any moment, for any of us. That’s part of the human condition. You can mitigate it – you can eat healthily, and exercise, and all that good stuff. But sooner or later, that ticket gets called and you’re up.
So all this hopeless end of humanity stuff is much the same. Nothing lasts forever, and I suppose some generation had to be the unlucky shmucks who drew that card, and I guess that’s us. (Or, probably, anyway.)
So maybe we have 20-30 years. Maybe civilisation will collapse around our ears as the food runs out and everything dies and the seas rise. Maybe that will happen.
Here’s what you can do. You can do what you can do. For each of us, that’s different. For some, they can get into power and change regulations and laws. For some, they can create amazing tech that can mitigate some of these things. For most of us, we can make careful and conscious choices about our consumerism and our votes, and not much more than that. We can’t all be revolutionaries. Do what you can. Whatever that is.
And then live your damn life like you only have a decade left. Spend time with the people you love. Make your childrens’ childhoods exceptional, just in case their adulthood sucks donkey balls. Hug your dogs, rescue kittens, visit beautiful places, learn that thing you always meant to learn. Go see a doctor about your mental illness. Make that change in your life that you always wanted to make but never quite found the courage for. Life is SHORT and that may be more accurate now than it has ever been. But it has always been short and unpredictable and full of cruelty and grief.
But it is also exquisitely beautiful, full of small joys and big ones, full of colour and light and people doing small wonderful things for each other every single day, in every single land. Love really is universal. Kindness can resonate and ripple in unexpected ways. If we can’t save the world, maybe at least we can save today, for one person, or a few. Instead of spending it fretting about the things in 10-20 years, DO WHAT YOU CAN about that and then LIVE.
If nothing matters, then EVERYTHING does.
If there is no meaning, if everything is fucked, then the only meaning is the meaning you create. The only meaning is the small kindnesses, the small lights you grow in the palm of your hand, in the corner of your smile, in the eye contact with strangers, in the kind words between coworkers. The only meaning lies in the love you feel for the beings in your lives (human, animal, plant, fiction). The only meaning lies in the things you create.
When everything is being destroyed, when all you see is despair, then kindness and creation are rebellious acts. I told someone today that my positivity is a coping mechanism: a big fuck you to despair.
There is nothing more punk than staying bright in this dark world. It takes guts and strength and courage and gumption in a way that getting jaded doesn’t.
Nothing matters. It’s all dying. So be punk. Be kind. Fuck despair.
If nothing matters, then EVERYTHING does.