Silencing A Silent Menace
The other big "C"
(Noun.) As of yet non-identified 21st-century scourge resistant to most pharmacological agents, leaving the host susceptible to periodic intense flare-ups, a direct result of living maladjusted in society for far too long.
Yes, I invented a word.
No, it is not an imaginary affliction.
I cannot explain precisely what this feels like since it is overwhelming within seconds, overloading all sensory receptors. There is a tiredness that will not go away and feelings of futility despite any effort exerted. You can feel like you alone are sane, and this alone can make you feel completely crazy. There is a desire to rage, but the “enemy” is everywhere and illusory; there can be no victory. When I feel the familiar creep of signs and symptoms, for less than an instant I marvel that such a lengthy interval of being asymptomatic led me to believe that I was in remission.
Life had been on cruise control through chaos and how conveniently did I coalesce into the continuum. It was the momentum. Score another one for the strategically well-played tactics of a society with a vice-like grip on what it considers “essential components” (i.e. us) for its survival.
The consumables need consumers. Marketers, marketing products and someone to market to. So, if you don’t pick up your phone after the fifth attempt to reach you, you'll be called continuously every day at varying times as a professional courtesy to give you the option to purchase, or promotional codes for your referrals.
Buy, sell, and bleed for the entitlement of being alive from a governmental conglomerate so grandiose it overshadows reason and declares that all of living, costs. Pay me for the privilege.
But somewhere through all this, I breathe and remember that this is not my truth. Coming back to my senses, my energetic centers depleted from holding on to keep a balance for so long, recoil and contort, as I fall from the proverbial precipice into the literal sickness that is chronic civilizationitis.
There are those who will try to rebrand, re-package, and change the dimensions and framework simply for the purposes of reintegration into a system that can advertise, service, finance-package, and conventionally treat me back into societal sameness. They sense opportunity. I feel like shit. In the throes of a condition that eradicates logical mind and social graces, I may lack sensibility, but I sure as hell want nothing to do with anything society-ish.
No, I don’t want to purchase another car, upgrade my computer software, attend your college/university to be saddled with more debt or get life insurance with no questions asked and a complimentary gift card.
I disconnect all reception. Lockdown is indefinite. I’ll be better when I’m better.
"Stop riding this damn train," I tell myself "and you won’t need to buy any more tickets."
Self-sabotage kicks into high gear as I stop eating healthy foods (or stop eating altogether.) Don’t drink enough water. Waste time doing nothing and refuse to go out of the house.
I am at essence a creative being, but if there’s one thing I know Cancerians find easy, it’s that crab-like ability to stay in a hole for months—family or no family, job or no job. This is not a counterproductive state. This is a silent self-destructive abyss.
My last sane thought is recognizing proximity to that crater and following prearranged emergency protocols because no one is coming to save me.
There are few residential areas that can eclipse nature entirely, and this is a pathway to my salvation. As long as I can see a leaf or a blade of grass; as long as I can hear birdsong or the pitter-patter of rain, there is a ray of light in otherwise utter hopelessness and darkness.
I listen to how nature communicates with itself and relive moments when there was no separation between myself and sea. Born on a dot of an island, this was my reality. Salt air the powerful charge and constant reminder of the interdependence and interconnectedness of nature with its inhabitants.
At home, I grew up watching flowers never fail to bloom and enjoying fruit that was sweet to sight and taste, not requiring a supervisor or performance appraisal for its task. I discovered that the mesmerizing passionflower is edible, and nasturtiums an iron-rich colorful delicious addition to any salad.
Here, I watch the sparrows hide and sing around the morning sun, then I converse with the trees after midday. I let the warmth remind me that my planetary location needs to change. Melanin children like me require higher sunbeam dosage or can be susceptible to (you guessed it) civilizationitis.
And when night falls, unfazed by time, I watch the moon and realign my rhythms with its phases for balance. Satiate myself in simplicity. Seek communion via stars with a promise to do it all again tomorrow since celestial connections contain a myriad of miracles.
I burrow into the arms of an all too forgiving Mother Nature and stick my toes in the sand at water’s edge. I was born in ocean. In vastness. There is such joy in this knowing. The awareness and understanding are cyclical and complete. Society compresses and contracts, but my core is expansive and unlimited. It’s a wonder I survived this relapse. Knowledge is not only power but in context healing.
I tell myself that I can do this just for a little while. Live on the outskirts of the city whilst I prepare to spend my days in a modest hut in the Maldives. Or an ashram in India. Seeing complete healing from the cursed condition which is civilizationitis, contracted from all those conjugal visits with “civilized societies.”
Even on preliminary reflection, I know this is delusional.
It was Sobonfu Somé in The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient Teachings in the Ways of Relationships who wrote that in her village of Dano, Burkina Faso when one person is sick, the entire village is concerned because there is something present that can potentially make everyone sick.
A disease this ravaging will stealthily extend tendrils of contagion into every corner of the globe. Countless millions completely unaware of contamination. Thinking for a fleeting moment that they are experiencing depression. A psychotic break. Or just need a long vacation, all of which are bona fide symptoms of the menace. So-called developed countries incurring greater risk due to heavy investment on standardized economic models permitting limited disengagement at best.
Alongside a weary humanity, I need reconnection with the source and the great outdoors is a reminder of that. A little less cyberspace. A little more walking pace to slow down and focus on what the quintessential elements of life actually are.
With repeated acute on chronic episodes, I feel more than qualified to share some of the approaches to this insidious illness that have restored my health and sanity.
It is vital to “time out/tap out” at the first recognition of signs and symptoms. Recognize that although you could keep going, a self-imposed intervention is paramount to recovery. I personally take myself off the hook for being late, less than communicative, or staying “on task”.
Resist the urge to explain what you are going through to someone. Those who are a part of your inner circle will support you without question. To everyone else, you may risk being flagged under mental health issues (unless you actually have mental health issues for which you will need support.)
As simple as it may sound, break out the pen and paper and stay away from the e-device everything for a while. Write out your thoughts, your emotions, your pain in all of its rawness as a form of catharsis. Forget about grammar/spelling or anyone reading your scripted tirade. Burn or rip to smithereens what you’ve written to expel it from the galaxy. And if you have to complete this step more than once, do so.
When appetite wanes, smoothie it! For me, it's about having no desire to cook. And then not knowing what I want to cook when finally I do. This can go on for hours until I lose my way or energy is depleted. Decreased caloric intake in this state can be a negative cyclic loop. It's imperative to get some nutrients in. So throw in some bananas, kiwis, or whatever passes for fruit/veg in your kitchen with some milk or juice in a blender. No one will judge you if you need to add a shot of bourbon (but just this once.) Add protein powder on top, wheatgrass, or any other superfood of your choice. Mix and drink up.
The lethargy that comes with civilizationitis is not to be taken lightly. It’s your body screaming “I cannot live like this anymore!” Listen to what your body is telling you and take emergency measures.
Determine the endgame, whether it is to manage in society or move away from it in a way that is acceptable to you. Perhaps silent retreats strategically placed throughout the year, workshop weekends, quitting a job and becoming self-employed, living off the grid, or a period of monastic life.
I unashamedly admit that I salivate when looking at eco-friendly Earthships, their video clips alone enough energy output to soothe. All choices take careful planning. Adjustments can be made at any time. I do plan on disappearing from the grid at some point in my life.
Invariably, when many of us think back to the years that we grew up, life was simpler.
In my early youth, there was no internet.
No complicated security checks at airports.
Television signed off at midday so that children could eat lunch then go out to play. There were three channels and all signed off at 12 midnight.
Businesses closed at 5:00 pm so that employees were free to go home, go swimming/fishing/boating, or go anything else of pleasurable choice.
By contrast, high rates of self-harm and suicide in young people from cyberbullying from social media sites offer gruesome statistics.
Although I offer no scientific proof, I sincerely believe a significant number of irate air travelers are those who remember what travel was like pre-9/11, in the ‘60s and ‘70s when it was relatively hassle-free by comparison.
Where I currently reside, there are monthly charges for a TV license, and with cable, catch-up TV, and a host of online video streaming services a child could literally stay watching TV all day and all night long; something I never envisioned at eight years old.
Many businesses operate with extended evening hours to facilitate employees working well past 5:00 pm, and the 24/7 hours of operation model is commonplace. Add in a commute, and people can actually spend more time getting to and from work and working than at home in a day.
When I think about how society managed to get this complicated, I’m pretty sure it began with a group of people trying to organize things. Make them more manageable. E.g. so yeah, statistics on employees is good information to have to make business decisions about human resources going forward. But let’s divide the jobs into sectors as there are so many but OOPS, someone needs to oversee these sectors to collect data and GEE, that’s quite a lot to ask of one person so maybe separate into departments with YIKES, those departments need a command structure or it will get confusing. And it just kept going. And going.
Simplicity soothes the savage beast that is civilizationitis.
Think back to basics in aspects of your daily living, which may look like baking your own bread, having a de-clutter session, picking fruit, or just walking around barefoot. Consider these activities as a bridge back to the true essence of you, and fully engage and be present in them.
This unacknowledged scourge can take its victims to a place beyond loneliness. This is a voice of expression for those who cannot speak. This condition does not own you, and it does not have the power to destroy your life because you are not depressed, lazy, or having a nervous breakdown. You are a magnificent creation of unique destiny that was never meant to live in such constriction. Of this Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet foretold and cautioned, “Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.” And glimpsing the future where that group of people tried to organize things, he said, "In their fear, your forefathers gathered you too near together.”
In this awareness resides a powerful antidote and definitive cure.
And if as a by-product this makes one more eco-activist, less unconscious consumer, then more power to it.
Many of life’s happiest moments can be gleefully experienced away from the clutches of civilization where, in my humble opinion, life should be fully lived in the first place.
I really appreciate you taking the time to read my story. Thank you so much!
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I welcome your questions, comments, and feedback @thedaniwriter
My earliest memory is of being in ocean. Born and raised in Bermuda, I lived a childhood made of pastel joys. I've learned to make a delicious vegetarian lasagne, train as a registered nurse, and keep the juiciest of secrets. @thedaniwriter