“How do you do it?”
“Keep going...I mean...anyone else would’ve given up by now.”
“I’m not anyone else. I’m not that lucky.”
They look at me confused. They don’t understand. It’s okay. I’ve never quite understood either. Hard to explain something that I don’t know myself.
The only answer I can give won’t make sense to most. It will make sense to some, because they’re like me.
Giving up is an option?
The question falls empty into the room. I understand. Giving up is always an option. You just stop trying, it’s simple really.
Except, it never has been for me. I’m not saying I’m some superhuman being or perfect, or even good most days. Resilience, for me, has become a curse. I wish I could give up. It would be so easy. When you stop trying, you agree to die. You choose the path of least resistance to the grave. Life is over, your body just doesn’t know it yet. You can choose to change it at any time, but why, why would you? There’s no reason, no purpose, you tried everything, and nothing worked.
There’s even a name for it, learned helplessness. It sounds so benign, so...helpless, it can’t do anything. Except it can do everything. It has crippled a society, even to a degree, a world. Confused? Yeah, I probably would be too. Even I don’t always understand the paths my mind takes.
So do what “they” don’t want you to do. Think about it.
They, the ambiguous, threatening, mysterious “they”. Who are they? They don’t even know until they are them.
The real forces behind our society, the ones who think they are “self made men” (and if you look around, most of them really are men, male identifying) who struggled from the bottom up, they really think so, except most of them never even truly started at the bottom. They had so many advantages, fortressed around them, buttressing them up, they couldn’t help but succeed, even if they couldn’t see it. They get to the top and remember the path up. Reach down, help others up? But no, that’s not how it works. If others make it to “your level” then your level isn’t as prestigious, not as much power. And power, really, that’s what matters. It’s not the money, that’s just the tool the power uses.
But their numbers, the ones below you, they have the numbers, they could overwhelm you at any time. So how do you stop it? You teach them. You indoctrinate them in the doctrine of helplessness. And for godssake, start early, the earlier the better! Teach it through their parents, teach it through the schools, teach it everywhere you can, because even once, if they get the idea that they have power...well, we can’t even consider that, can we? No, it would tear everything down.
So, from the very beginning, we’re sent to school, education long ceased to be the purpose of such institutions. Go the same place day after day, sit quietly, pay attention, do the work, don’t ask questions. Be a good worker. Oh and here you go, take this home with you. There wasn’t enough time in the day today, but that’s not OUR fault, you didn’t work hard enough, you can never work hard enough, oops did we say that part out loud? Nevermind. Not important. You’re sitting and listening, right? That’s the important part. Show up every day, do what we say. That’s all that matters.
So...why am I so different? I’m not. I am. I am different in every way, I’m exactly the same. The only difference is the choices. Every individual can see what I see, every person can do what I do...if they make that choice, most won’t, not can’t, won’t. We could change the world, almost overnight. But why? It’s easier to stay on the train, the one you’re already on, you know which one, don’t look outside, outside is dangerous territory. We wouldn’t want to get “ideas”. Those are scary, don’t think about them.
You might see things like me. You might see the one who won’t stay down. Who has been knocked down so many times, even they don’t remember where they started from. Was it lower, was it higher? You don’t know anymore, it doesn’t even matter. But the ones around you, they can see, and the higher you climb, the harder they push....so you do the only thing you can remember how to do, the only thing they’ve left you with…
You push…push back…wait…
I hear a whisper, but it’s growing.
Did someone say revolution?
About the author
If my path has been conventional, then I think convention must be redefined, but perhaps that wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Self identifying as agender and an artist and the rest not withstanding, now based out of Seattle, hi, I’m Willow.