Male Oppression Within Patriarchy

scream“I have no mouth and I must scream”

-Harlan Ellison

I do not have the words to write this piece, it needs years of consideration, of learning, and of careful deliberation. I cannot guarantee I have years and so I feel I have to try and mould it now and risk it being half formed. I cannot be sure I have hours, none of us can be sure what time we have and that motivates me to put my thoughts to paper. Mayhap I will return to it another time and, as a wiser person, make it what it truly should be. For now this is what I have to give.

 

 Introduction

 “We need to highlight the role women play in perpetuating and sustaining patriarchal culture so that we will recognize patriarchy as a system women and men support equally, even if men receive more rewards from that system. Dismantling and changing patriarchal culture is work that men and women must do together.”

– bell hooks

We have a tendency to devalue that which we possess and to over-value that which we are denied.

In the feminist gatherings and events I have been privileged to be a part of I have seen the greatest of human strengths – the strength of people from diverse backgrounds to stand together against seemingly immovable domination, the strength to fight against impossible odds and carry on regardless of defeat after defeat, seizing the little victories, taking the baby steps that lead inchingly closer to equality. I have both learned from, and been humbled by, what I have experienced.

At these gatherings I have been taught by the most inspiring of people. Women who chose to accept my lack of knowledge and, sometimes harshly, correct my beginners mistakes. To them I am and will continue to be indebted. I have seen so much good and so much hope and yet I have also, repeatedly and subtly, seen a lack of understanding when it comes to the actions of men; most especially a lack of understanding of mens oppression under patriarchy. Perhaps this is to be expected, men have many benefits under the patriarchal system and it is easy to see men who have been warped by patriarchal society as the cause of the oppression as opposed to a symptom of a greater issue. This lack of understanding is perpetuated by the fact that, under patriarcy, the vast majority of men are cut off from their ability to experience their own feelings and articulate their emotional needs. We, as men, are self-prevented from educating others by the deeply ingrained rules of our society. We are guilty of being unable to take the step that those brave feminists took with me to help educate other genders about our own personal experiences and through teaching seek to redefine and mold them into a healthier form.

Others have done good work around the experience of male oppression. I recently read bell hooks “The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love” and also Terence Real’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” and there is huge insight there – but the body of knowledge surrounding the male experience of oppression is under-developed. This subject needs to be furthered and, if patriarchy is to be replaced, it needs to take it’s place alongside the other oppression literature that helps to educate us about the world in which we live and arm us for the struggles ahead. We need to understand men’s oppression not as an excuse for patriarchy – there is no excuse for patriarchy, whichever group seeks to further it – but as a legitimate position in the web of oppression that we struggle with on a daily basis. Men need to be helped to see their oppression for they are strongly conditioned against recognising it. Groups need to come into being in which men can share experiences without judgement and learn to reflect and reconnect with the feelings that were taken from them in their childhoods. Men need help to see they are wounded so that then they can take responsibility for learning to heal and through that healing learn to moderate their own privilege.

 

The Emotional Purging

I am capable of fully experiencing three emotions – Fear, Love and Despair. I have the capability to properly express one emotion – Fear. Everything else can be felt only up to a limited point. I feel happiness, but only in a limited way, beyond a point my body shuts down and I become instantaneously numb. It is as if the gas propelled shutter that protects a bank teller from assault has been activated – you do not see anything move but suddenly an impenetrable wall is there and the happiness is on the other side. It cannot hurt me, cannot leave me vulnerable. I can experience a little but then I experience nothing at all.

I can remember a time when I had access to a full range of emotion – aged ten is the latest age I can be certain I experienced life fully but I may have had a few years longer. By 16 I definitely had a foreshortened ability to experience emotions. Somewhere in between, most certainly in my years at senior school, the emotional range left me and was replaced by the safety mechanisms that keep it out today. These mechanisms hold the emotion on the other side of a barrier, I still know they are there, I still know that I should be experiencing them and feel despair at my inability to connect with what I, perhaps naively, equate with the ability to be human.

This experience does not just belong to me. The few men that I know who are capable of speaking out about it tell similar tales and, almost exclusively, the emotional disconnection happens in the teenage years. The years in which we take the step from being boys into being men. It is in this period that what I choose to call the ‘masculine ideal’ is embedded into us.

 How We Survive

How does a person survive within the masculine ideal if they cannot allow themselves to transmit, or even experience emotions? Well, it turns out that humans are ingenious and plastic animals. If the majority of the male sex is incapable of communicating a concept due to the same disability then it actually gives them an ability to empathise (at least intellectually) with the suffering of their fellow men. It is this empathy (or perhaps proto-empathy as it is highly limited in its scope) that both drives the male urge to bond and allows a coded understanding to exist between men regarding their general emotional state. The fact that I can let another man know how I feel, that he can decode my pain and I his is just enough to carry on.

If I am depressed, if I am feeling truly bad or perhaps even suicidal and a close friend asks me ‘how are you doing’ I will not break down in tears or explain how my world is falling apart – I will not because I cannot – but I will say ‘not too great’ and if I am feeling seriously bad I will give a single firm pat to his shoulder as I pass him. Those words combined with such a blatant digression from the rules of no contact acts as a strong signal regarding my pained state of mind. A signal most men would ‘get’.

I can express my love for a friend through my actions, my willingness to takes risks with him and for him. Indeed, as my friendship with this man grows I may seek increasingly risky situations in order to enable both of us to express our mutual trust and platonic love. The means of expression for this potentially life altering emotion? A half nod before the risky act, a short smile afterward as the adrenalin begins to ebb, a spontaneous hug with back slapping and verbal high fives. These are examples of the strictly regulated means that men are permitted by patriarchy to share emotion. Though crude these means can and do serve to form a bond of common purpose between groups of men that last a lifetime and allow the spanning of vast periods in which the men may be apart. In a world without emotional communication those you make any contact with will always remain your friends.

Although it seems like a blunt instrument, and contrary to popular stereotype, communication within the masculine ideal is incredibly subtle and nuanced. It’s defining factor is not its lack of depth but its lack of breadth. It can communicate a limited range of what may originally have been ‘forbidden’ emotions between men and serves to both bind those men closer together and lessen the mental anguish associated with their inability to express emotion. From the moment of group expression onward the individual will feel more comfortable with that group of men than he does alone or often with members of the opposite sex. He will have found a family, but a family that is ‘addicted’ to each others presence, a family that needs to engage in occasional acts of societally unacceptable behaviour in order to enable it’s members to renew their bonds.

 

 A Personal Perspective

My personal experience of emotional amputation is re-played inside me every day. I suspect it is the same for others, to some extent we can all hear the knocking on the other side of the barricade.

I have cried once in nearly twenty years. There is no capacity for me to cry – any emotion that would cause tears gets shuttered before it becomes intense enough to have an effect. I suspect this reaction was learned in the schoolyard to protect against the violence doled out to those who didn’t meet the masculine ideal. Nowadays it means I do not cry at the funerals of friends and relatives – indeed I often give the readings because I am unencumbered by emotion and unlikely (unable) to break down part way through. During moments of intense passion the shutters come down – suddenly I am not passionate, all I have left is an intellectual image of passion that I try to enact. When I do experience any emotion it becomes paired with anxiety. Even the emotion of love is an anxious experience inextricably tied to the fear of loss.

In a disaster I am calm – I’ve been among the first on the scene at several vehicular accidents and in those moments I become a ‘man’ and take control – the internal conditioning kicks in. Afterwards, when the adrenaline dies down and I begin to shake, I will take myself away and hide somewhere quiet because I cannot accept others seeing my perfectly understandable physiological reaction – a reaction I (and many men) interpret as weakness. People ask men why they do not seek help when they are hurting, why their rates of alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide are so much higher than those of women. I say that the answer lies in patriarchal society teaching us that the single most important thing is the masculine ideal. Teaching us that, by inference, it is preferable to be a drunkard or an addict than to lose our masculine status by expressing emotion. It is even preferable to die by our own hand, an act that carries a certain manly respect, than to let our emotions free and become nothing.

It is an act of immense courage for a man to cast off his allegiance to the masculine ideal and enter into a potentially permanent period in which not only other men and women but he himself is forced to regard his current and past personal worth as zero. It would be a truly rare man who could take that step alone – to leave himself without any form of traditional or cultural support, who would choose to become a no-one. To my mind this is reason that most of those who have begun this journey were already outcasts or had already buckled under the pressure of maintaining the masculine ideal and exhibited mental illnesses born of that strain. It is mostly those who have had little or nothing to lose that have chosen to walk a path that begins with total loss. Even then the man may find that he chooses to regress as his self-esteem raises, as he realises that he can reintegrate into the society of men at some level and once again receive the emotional support that it provides.

This is the position I find myself in now. I choose to renounce the masculine ideal and try to reclaim the emotions that I feel will make me human once again but for every two steps I take along the path I take at least one back. For every dream I have of my freedom I dream another of dominance and violent aggression. I talk to my loved ones more about my feelings but I am acutely aware that I cannot access many of those feelings – and if they are unshared with me how can I share them onward? I am walking in a wilderness in which I feel little worth in my achievements and a constant pull toward returning to past harmful patterns. What keeps me moving forward are the supportive friendships I have with a number of people, mostly feminists. Lately I have felt that these friendships are not enough. For all their support these mostly female friends cannot understand the nature of the thing with which I struggle because they themselves have never experienced it. They cannot truly understand a man’s oppression by patriarchy just as I can never truly understand a woman’s. We can acknowledge each other, support each other, but we cannot truly know the other’s enemy.

My experience of the birth of the masculine ideal within patriarchy, as a man, begins within the schoolyard. In no other place within our society are the rules so strictly enforced and failure to conform so rigidly punished. At the age of eleven your friend relationships are everything, even eclipsing the familial, and those relationships are governed by strict rules learned from our relatives, peers and the media at large. Strict rules regarding the attributes of maleness and the concomitant suppression of emotion that involves. I personally grew up with a solid diet of war stories, war films, tales of singular heroism and stories of individuals or small groups overcoming all odds. The values these things project are oddly similar to the masculine ideal I have found as an adult.

The traits of a man, as presented within my culture to a boy of eleven are as follows:

  • A man can be anything he wants to be if he tries hard enough (and by inference, if he fails to be what he chooses he has not tried hard enough and he is not a man).
  • To show any emotion but anger is weakness (to shed a tear is an act of failure whilst to intimidate another is to be a success)
  • Physical ability is a paramount achievement (and so those who fail to make the team have failed to be men)
  • A man is sexually attractive (to be unable to secure a woman is a failure to be a man)
  • A man is resolute (to take time to think or search for balanced opinion is a failure)

What is telling about the above traits is not what they prescribe – all men know the masculine ideal – but the meaning ascribed to the failure to meet any or all of these requirements. To show emotion does not make you a woman, it makes you not a man. In the absence of another gender identity it makes you nothing. It nullifies everything about you, it makes you zero and leaves you unmoored and adrift. If you are not a man then you cannot partake in masculine bonding and form emotion venting groups, no matter what you achieve in the state of not-a-man the sum value of your life will always be multiplied by zero, it will never amount to anything of worth. If the child, and later the man, does not follow the code then they must rapidly break free of the entire patriarchal masculine ideal or be forced to live a life with no forms of connection at all. To be male is not a state of being, under patriarchy it is a target one must constantly fight to achieve lest you cease to exist at all.

We absorb these truths from innumerable films and television programmes. Every war movie in which the stoic hero goes to his death in the service of a cause or saves a friend by dying in his place. Every time a hero runs after an opponent, leaping from rooftop to rooftop before pummelling his nemesis into bloody unconsciousness. We absorb these things from our fathers who in turn have absorbed them from their fathers. We absorb them from our mothers and grandmothers who encourage us to be whatever we want whilst openly admiring the strong or the quick or the beautiful, who identify a character as a ‘baddie’ because he is ugly or limps. It is not the fault of most parents, they cannot do anything but reinforce the dominant patriarchal current within our culture – but they perpetuate and strengthen that current nevertheless.

Even those of us with access to somewhat more open-minded parents cannot be protected. Our schoolmates bring their parents attitudes with them and re-enact them with great force. There can be no meaningful escape. To survive we buy in to the patriarchal narrative, we bury ourselves deep in the knowledge that our emotions cannot, must not, be found if we are to survive.

By the time we leave the schoolyard the damage to most men is done. We carry the lessons onward into the world at large. We carry the understanding that we must constantly push and dominate to maintain our maleness and that those who are ‘weak’ can be looked upon with love or sympathy but can never be considered equal. We understand that only by playing the game will we acheive any emotional release any catharsis regarding our internal divisions. We also carry with ourselves the knowledge of the absence of our emotions. It is hard for any person to come to terms with an amputated limb, even if they understand the amputation was necessary for survival, so too is it hard for any man to come to terms with his amputated emotions – especially when he thinks he can still feel them behind the barricades – like a phantom limb cramping where no real limb now exists.

Many men are desperate to find a way out of patriarchy but they do not know it or at least cannot name it or see the bars of the cage that restrains them. Men everywhere struggle to understand their feelings of entrapment and desperation in a world in which they feel they should be masters, who are appalled at their own destructive behaviour but cannot identify its root or control its expression. Many men need help and whether it is our role or not the only way many will receive it is if we help to educate and rehabilitate them. I would even suggest that to help to heal them is the only viable way to overthrow patriarchy in our world.

 The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity. Until we make this distinction clear, men will continue to fear that any critique of patriarchy represents a threat.

– bell hooks

 

Afterword

Tired of being a bear

Tired of being a bear

I have looked for and failed to find a body of support for men as they pass through the wasteland of the post-masculine ideal and attempt to construct or discover a new, more holistic, way of being. Some resource exists, the Goodmen project, for example, are centred around responsible and fair behaviour by men within this society but fail to address the underlying problem. No-one I have found addresses the twisted form of socialisation that our society takes as normal and uses to wring the emotional capacity from their male children. I support the Goodmen because their stance is well meant and does some good – but they are not enough to address this problem.

I dream of an organisation of men who have chosen to enter into the wilderness and, at least temporarily, discard their values. A society of men that can offer the support that each of them will need as he is tempted to return to the aggressively dominant ways that he has been taught; who struggles with the truth that it feels better to be emotionally crippled and yet supported by your peers than it does to start out on the journey to wellness alone. I dream of a society of men that can offer each other support, as best they are able, and who strive to find a better way for themselves and the generations that will follow them. They will get things wrong, they will need to learn from others and be constantly forced to build and rebuild bridges. They will need to learn to find a new way of being, a way that feels alien to them and that may well leave them rejected by the women and men they’ve left behind. They will need to break a new way that ultimately lets them feel and express the emotions that were stolen from them in their childhood. A way that their children wont consider new, but normal. A way that will grow and help all men.

Such an organisation does not exist.

 I will try to do my best to help build it.


Niemöller’s Warning

 

This past Christmas was hard.dog

This past Christmas was hard because I have a happy and supportive family.

This past Christmas was hard because I saw the happiness of homeless people.

This past Christmas was hard because, when all was done, I turned homeless people back out onto the street.

This past Christmas was hard because I lost my good CPAP machine.

This past Christmas was hard because straight afterwards I started a new and well-paying job.

This past Christmas was hard because we were planning a wedding.

Some of the above, most of the above, should be positives in my life.  Not unmitigated positives, new jobs and weddings are undoubtedly stressful events, but they mark progression – they mark the growth of wonderful things.  They are positives, huge positives, but when set side by side with my experiences working with Crisis over Christmas to help rough sleepers in London these positives become hard to deal with.  These positives, when set against the suffering, victimisation and demonization of others become hard to reconcile mentally.  The fact that my life is going well makes the gulf between me and a group of people, some of whom I would like to call friends, that much harder to reconcile.  I am taking that difficult but liberating leap into flight as they are trapped and held down against a cold and hostile earth.

One way to resolve this is to forget them.  To take the road that most choose to take and fail to see them asleep in doorways or begging in the street.  To pretend that they are criminals or drug addicts who brought their own misfortunes down upon themselves.  To fool myself that they could not be me and I could not be them.  I won’t ignore them, I couldn’t even if I chose because I have met some of their representatives and I know they are people like me.  Some are nice, some nasty; some intelligent, others slow; many are sick or have turned to alcohol to try and cope with their situation – but less have become addicts or alcoholics than you think.  Many have mental health problems, vulnerable people are easy for the system to side-line – the mentally ill often don’t know how to fight back.  Many do not have mental health problems when they first go out onto the street, the environment provides them; they can then be used to ignore the afflicted individual.

This year one of our guests (that is our homeless guests to whom we gave a bed) was an English teacher – a very erudite man who gave us a talk on what the work of Crisis meant to him and the other homeless people he knew.  That talk meant a great deal to me at the end of the final shift, the shift in which we have to take the people we have helped and turn many of them back onto the street, the shift at the end of which you are more emotionally and physically tired than any other.  I don’t remember his exact words but I think I can paraphrase an extract here:

“The quality of volunteers at Crisis has not changed.  You still give hope to people through food, shelter and, perhaps more importantly, through conversation and little things such as opening doors for your guests and treating them like human beings – an experience that is rare on the streets.

“The calibre of volunteers has not changed, but the calibre of guests has.  This year the centre has had one professor, two doctors and several teachers – all homeless.  There are more of what society calls skilled people, people who you would not have seen in the past.”

I can add to his comments that we had at least one person homeless because they could not work – on the waiting list for an operation (and so not someone an employer would take on with major time-off looming) and another who was a barely controlled diabetic.  A third had a crippling heart condition.  Our speaker did not venture an opinion on why our homeless guests suddenly seemed more educated, more professional.  Why they were from areas of the workforce that have traditionally been ‘safe’ or why people who were so sick had been left homeless and rough sleeping. He did not venture an opinion on why all our centres (more were opened this year than last) were swamped by numbers never seen before.   I can venture my opinion:

We have seen a massive spike in the numbers of homeless people in the last few years as the coalition government has implemented austerity measures.  Crisis loans for the disabled have effectively been removed (they were moved under local council control but no funding was transferred to pay them).  ATOS, the government’s private medical assessor, has been ruling disabled people fit for work against their specialist’s direct recommendations and thus taking away the benefits of people who cannot in reality hold a job.  Job centres have become incrementally harsher in applying penalties to job seekers in the case of minor infringements (such as missing a meeting due to a sick child, the flare up of a severe disability or to attend a last minute interview for a job).  With DLA/PIP, ESA and many others being removed or slashed in real terms or placed behind a bureaucratic wall that takes months, and a huge emotional investment, to penetrate more and more people – skilled or otherwise – are finding themselves abandoned by the systems they have been funding for decades through taxation.

So, my life is doing well, but as I watch the gap between myself and the people that I have met opening ever wider my heart is filled with a deep impenetrable sadness.  I see a void, a gap that our current austerity blinkered society refuses to see, expanding and start to swallow people that it could never reach in the past.  I see a void looming behind friends who have not seen its growth or, instead, stubbornly deny that it could ever reach out to them.  I have met people better qualified than them or I, people who had better jobs and better prospects who have been swallowed whole and deposited on the streets.  I see a shadow at the edges of this void and I fear what is coming.

I have met homeless teachers, doctors, market traders, professors, literary critics, chef’s, cooks, musicians, labourers, civil servants, taxi drivers and businessmen.  They have been a mixture of healthy, sick, disabled, desperate, hopeful, determined, broken and unbreakable.  To cope they have stayed sober, gotten drunk or high, denied reality or faced a nihilistic world with grim resolve. They have been people like you and for some of these readers they will be you, one day in the future.

That void is opening up below you and unless we all open our eyes and work to close it down some of you will be swallowed by it, as might I.

There was a famous statement made by Pastor  Niemöller with regard to the cowardice of German intellectuals in the face of Nazism.  You have probably heard the official version:

 

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.”

 

There are other versions, one of the first written included these lines:

 “Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. – I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? — Only then did the church as such take note. Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. Can we say, we aren’t guilty/responsible? The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland, that were written in the newspapers”

I do not claim we are facing a holocaust, but we are facing the deaths of people because politicians have decided that those who are a burden to society, the incurably sick or disabled, are no longer worth supporting.  We are seeing a rise in homelessness amongst our educators, a sign that their moral and intellectual guidance is being devalued.  We are once again adopting the creed that an individual that does not contribute monetarily does not deserve the basic rights afforded to all humans.  The last holocaust began with the gassing of the mentally ill in specially modified vans because society deemed they were a burden.  Be alert and speak out when once again we are shown that these people are not cared for by the state. Place Niemöller’s statement into your mind every day and speak out now, it is too late to speak when the void has swallowed you.


Uncertain Moorings

Balloon head small

 ”The sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats.”  Ernest Hemingway

In the reality in which I live (and we all live in our own realities, intersecting but never converging) the concept of change is a terrifying thing.  There are solid reasons for this, the lack of internal stability that comes hand in hand with my manic depression means that I compensate by enforcing external predictability.  By limiting the number of new external inputs I can reduce the number of potentially harmful mis-reactions to a manageable degree. This manifests in a number of ways.

In order to limit my potential exposure to chaotic inputs I will only let a small number of individuals get close to me. I can have many colleagues but a very limited number of friends who I will seek to be with.  These friends do not have to agree with me, or treat me with kid gloves – we can argue (indeed, I enjoy it) – but they are all people who I can trust to be responsible with my feelings.  They are all people who will not push when I need to have my space.

To avoid fatigue I will avoid going to events on two consecutive nights, and by ‘going to events’ I generally mean leaving the house.  This again relates to my experience of manic depression and the observation that I become restless and mentally agitated if exposed to too much stimulus over consecutive days.  I may enjoy the actual events but when I come away the insistent thoughts and ideation are far stronger than they were before.  The ever present haze of depression is harder to penetrate, the rushing of my mental processes that much more difficult to dam.  I cannot go out night after night and simultaneously maintain control of my mind and emotions and so I don’t go out night after night.  My manic depression does not control me, I control it; but some of the tools that I utilise cost me in time.

I tend to avoid excessive planning (or even any planning as my fiancée can attest). This seems unusual at first glance. To minimise uncertainty you would assume that thorough planning was a requirement.  However, in my world, the feelings associated with deviation from a plan can be extreme.  Before the event my thoughts will fixate upon the pre-determined timings involved and obsess about the potential to fail to meet those deadlines.  During the event I will fail to enjoy anything that is taking place because I am worrying about the next waypoint and, ultimately, if we go off track I experience a terrible sense of fear and failure for having been unable to adhere to the plan.  I cope with this by having no plan, by placing no timings upon events and pre-selecting no list of goals or requirements except, perhaps, ones so general as to be easily achievable.  My decisions are taken, as much as can be possible, in the moment.  I rarely fail to achieve an objective because my objectives are usually short-term, vague and easily achievable. I attempt to pass from one moment to the next without judgement or expectation.  In my ideal world I have no history and no future, I am only now and I am at peace. The parallel with Buddhist teachings is not lost on me.

Of course the ideal world in which I only meet individuals who are responsible with my feelings, who do not press me to accept more inputs than I can easily process and who are happy for me to exist in a bubble of immediacy does not, can not, exist.  Accepting the non-existence of perfection is something that can be hard for those who are ‘mentally different’.  It is hard for me because I judge myself against an extreme of perfection that solely exists as an idea contained within me.  If I cannot reach this perfection then I label myself a failure, but intellectually I know that the best I can hope for in such a contest is to occasionally reach perfection and that therefore only very occasionally will I be satisfied with anything I do. Perversely my judgement upon others is wholly reversed – of course they cant achieve perfection, it is an unattainable goal, and so I find myself willing to forgive them any transgression and reluctant to levy any punishment for a wrongdoing.

That, the above, is the day to day.  It is the tension between theoretical need and actualisation.  It is how I live from minute to minute and hour to hour.  It is an adaptation designed to let me survive in what, essentially, is a hostile reality of my own invention.  However, as I alluded to in the opening paragraph there is another time-frame that I am forced to address, that of lifelong happiness.

There are times in life when change, or the option for change, inserts itself.  Moments of crux when we must make a concious decision to take one path or another and where the need for a decision is hard coded into the reality itself.  The decision must be made because either the status quo has become untenable or doing nothing is a decision within itself. If your landlord decides to stop renting your home, you must move on somewhere.  If you meet someone you love and, against all expectation, find you cannot imagine being without them then you must adjust.  If you are offered a better job nearer to your home then you must choose to move forwards or forever wonder at the opportunity passed.

I have encountered all of the above and at these times I have no choice but to abandon the day to day.  No choice but to turn the incumbent order upon its head and make those changes necessary to encode a new normality, find a new day to day.  The transition between different day-to-day realities is hard.  I must un-moor myself and ride for a time upon potentially treacherous waters in order to attain the new port – I must take a risk that I am extremely uncomfortable taking.  But, there is no choice, and furthermore to refuse to take the risk would be foolhardy in the extreme.  The option itself has shattered the current day-to-day and will quickly erode its comforting safety if I try and ignore the new possibilities that I have been presented with.  The choice is no real choice, to stay in the safe mooring is to condemn myself to certain downfall, I must take the risk.  I must make the attempt.

Next year, in January, I will be starting a new job, a job of frightening complexity.  Next year, at a date yet to be set, I will be getting married to the most wonderful lady in my reality.  I will be co-arranging a feast for friends, relatives and acquaintances that will be judged and talked about.  Next year is set for a great deal of treacherous water and the possibilities of sparkling new ports of destination.

I have cast off from the day-to-day and am adrift, looking to find that sparkling  port, looking to find that better place one step closer to perfection.


The crushing force

A burn red sphere holding an eye crushes buildings within a shape similar to a skullMy oldest conception of depression and the mixed state.  In depression the ball is brown and amorphous, smothering the buildings around it, in the mixed state it burns like a malevolent sun, scorching the earth.