You’re feeling lost, historically this feeling isn’t rare. What’s unique is that you feel lost within a space and system which has so many rules, constrictions and directions, it seems odd that one could get lost within such a space where the next signpost is only a mere step away. Of course this feeling is very different to the one imposed on you by others. The feeling of being lost, they say, is not rare for someone of your age, it’s completely normal to feel lost when you’re young. Except, the feeling hasn’t lifted in many years, in fact, it’s only got worse…more complex. You could denounce all I say as a form of angst, or bitterness, or even resentment, because this is what you do.
I dislike hastily shoving entire generations into groups such as Boomers, Gen Y or Gen Z, but stereotypes exist for a reason and unfortunately certain generations bow to a certain God and have passed the same belief system onto their children. They of course bow to work, consumption and an absurd form of material culture in general. Before I start here, this isn’t an anti-boomer piece, that would be dull, it’s actually an essay regarding infection and principle.
The consumerist culture I have expanded upon within various previous installments of this series is their God, their belief-system and their cultural center. It is the reason, they believe, that everything works and everything falls into place. And within their own circular logic they’re actually entirely correct. IF you wish for a large house, flash car etc etc. (you’ve heard it all before), then what you need to do is work long hours, get into debt, spend the rest of your life paying it off and die. And that, technically, ‘works’. That is of course all held under the implication that that is what you want to do with your life. You’re reading this, so I imagine you don’t.
I am reluctant to outline who this ‘we’ is, because it’s actually rather tough to pinpoint who it even is anymore. I don’t think any particular group of is pulling anybody else’s strings is any direct sense, such forms of blaming lead only to extremist delusions. And if you’ve taken anything from this series it’s that you have all the power of your own will, and as such can remove yourself from those things and forces which you do not want to be within. This we might be your older relatives, but it might also be your friends. You remember both these groups from when you were younger in a completely different light, don’t you? I know I do. One can of course state that I’m looking at my past through rose-tinted glasses, I may very well be, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the character and personality of these people has changed. Those new and vibrant spirits from my youth, many whom were close friends, have, upon repetition of action and conversation, become repetitions in-themselves. They utter little more than extracts from the latest media they’ve consumed and their opinions exist between an ever-tightening window of acceptability, and as for originality, well, there’s little that isn’t quite simply numbing. The ‘we’ in a sense, is merely the force of the culture I have been critiquing and its general expectations for the entire population it comes into contact with, inclusive of yourself.
The problem with this form of cultural infection is that you feel like you have no one to turn to. If we’re to return to the feeling of ‘being lost’ mentioned at the beginning, it’s not the usual way one feels lost because when one normally feels lost, they understand what they walked into and that there is some way out. One walks into a maze, gets lost, and does not panic, because they understand that is the nature of mazes, you just keep searching and the exit turns up eventually. The feeling of being lost I am referring to is vastly different on all counts. Not only did you not choose to walk into this maze, you don’t really even know what it is, and as such, don’t know what this feeling of being lost is even in relation to. A quote thrown about a lot these days is “Homesick for a place I’m not even sure exists.”. That gets fairly close to what we’re discussing here, the feeling that one’s potential is haunting them from another world where they haven’t had all the enchantment drained from them.
As stated, the fact you feel as if you have no one to turn to doesn’t help at all in this matter. What I mean by this is that for those actively looking for an exit, and are not just complacent in their situation, will find, at every turn, those whose perspective and outlook is so utterly absurd that one can’t help but feel entirely alone. Wittgenstein said if a lion could talk we wouldn’t be able to understand him, the frame of reference would be so different that it just wouldn’t make sense to us. I don’t think we even need to look outside of our own species now to see tenable results in this theory. You can understand these people, the words and sentences coming from them make sense, but only when an entire form of cultural logic is taken for granted. Prior to understanding the average Joe and all his desires, worries and opinions one must take for granted that this is how life is, all alternatives are not alternatives, but mistakes in relation to the great perfection that is contemporary Western consumer culture, for the average Joe, this is where we were meant to end up, wasting our precious energy and time on acquiring trinkets and status.
They want X, that doesn’t really make any sense to you, but sure, they’re not hurting anyone so you go along with it. You grow older and everyone wants X. If you don’t have X then you are seen as weird, odd and an outcast. But not only this, if you do not accept, enjoy and actively participate in the culture and system that makes X possible, then you too are weird and an outcast. You have to hide in the shadows, learning quickly to feign enthusiasm over the most mundane things. All of a sudden you feel alone in a room full of people and have nowhere to turn to. See, all the public spaces are full to the brim of their culture, all the quiet places are slowly being destroyed and infected and the only remaining places are deemed weird. Your choices are repressive and totalitarian normality or, ostracism.
Much along the same lines of a statement earlier in the series, ‘Why prolong a life you’re not enjoying?’, I ask you, ‘Why involve yourself with that which does not interest you?’. You might think you don’t, but how many things do you do, week-in, week-out, which you do purely out of a sense of normality and habit, things you do not to fit in, but to feel like you fit in? I imagine there’s many. The reason then that you feel lost and alone is not because you are, but because you are trying to be and find yourself in a place/logic which cannot willingly incorporate you into it. You are not lost, you have simply yet to find or understand the correct maze. It is as if you are being tested on how to be better at X, when you’re entire will is directed towards understanding Y. Not only does this culture make you unhappy, it quite literally makes no sense to you.
There are many who simply do not understand ascetics, stoics, minimalists, simple-living, nomads, wanderers etc., the problem however is that these very same people act as if their lack of understanding is not due to an ignorance on their part, but due to a malfunction regarding that which they don’t understand. That which does not conform to Western culture is not different, but wrong, this is what they have lead you to believe, this is why you feel lost and alone.
Practice: This practice is pithy and a little unrestrained, in fact, it’s a little careless. The practice is this, who cares? I have said this many times, you are free to do as you please. The problem is most people don’t understand this in all its grandiosity. Think of the average lottery winner, when asked what they will do with the money, the state that they shall live their current life but more extravagantly. The same applies to freedom. You can become freer, but how you then utilize that freedom is still up to you…that’s what it is to be free. So how are you going to use your newfound freedom? By simply becoming a freer prisoner within the maze of modernity, stating that you’re free because you drink, smoke and eat more, or are you going to use your freedom to head towards the exit and create as much of your own perfect life as possible?