Monday 18 February 2008

Coming to Terms With Personal Failure

The will to survive is truly amazing. People are, in some ways, stronger than they realise.
Psychological scars don't go away, but unlike physical scars, we can at least try and rise above them.

The bottom line is you're here. And one day you won't be. And all that really matters, is what you do with that. That really is up to you.

So you may not like the road that got you to the point you're at, but you're here.
Regret isn't going to get you anywhere.

The last couple of years have been in hard for me, in very real ways. I guess this blog has provided very real catharsis for me, and in some ways enabled me to deal with the realities of my actual existence.

I'm not yet thirty, but to all intents and purposes, I've effectively written my life off, and that's been hard to deal with. Knowing that you were once considered bright enough to have a shot at Oxbridge, and now, even if you won the Nobel Peace Prize, the headline would read 'Controversy as former Ecstasy dealer wins Nobel Peace Prize'.

That's hard enough. Then there's the life I saw. I can't explain, and there's no point in trying, except by saying, watch The Shawshank Redemption.

I mean, it's gone. Long gone. To see little me now, with my curls just as sculpted as they were at twenty, in my suit and tie, I'm just another wide boy, a foot soldier of the capitalist system.

I don't have a bad life. But in a huge sense, it can never satisfy. In life terms, you're a eunuch. So many pathways now, are closed.
But from the day that judge said 'Take him down.', there was no point in crying about it.

But it was certainly worth contemplating. I mean, there's no point in presenting me as otherwise than as the author of my own misfortune. The thing is, that DOES pose wider questions. And the one that perhaps most affects my worldview.

The simplest proof of the failure of our society, is me.

What do I mean by that?
Well, very simple. No, I don't blame anyone but me for my misfortunes. BUT. Looked at in a wider sense, it's not just me that loses out.

I have to come to terms with the fact that I will never make the social contribution maybe I could have done. But that's the point.

However many times, I go through everything, one still comes to the same conclusion; it would panned much the same however. If I'd done all those things differently, it wouldn't have been ME any more doing them differently.

The root of the problem, you might say, is a huge hatred of authority from an early age. Completely undisciplinable, confrontational, headstrong, over confident, unpredictable. These would be my key failings from the point of view of the processing machine that is our educational system. I'm just not a 'team player'.

I guess my graduation to a pure pleasure seeking existence, was almost guaranteed. A waste of a life, true, but more from society's point of view than mine.

This basically, is the point. People are going to find the ways of life that please them most. Society has managed to structure itself in such way, that my finding the best available of the paths to happiness on offer, meant me putting myself in a position where society declared me its enemy.

Why? Because the thing is, I was never going to get excited about buying a big house, putting a barbecue in the garden, all that 'keeping up with the Jones's' stuff, which FORCES everyone else to serve the system.
I needed more. I needed a sense of real purpose, and I only ever found that on the dancefloor, tight black jeans showing off my tight little bum, black T-shirt, showing off my girly white arms, a hint of eyeliner showing off my eyes.

That really was life. Up on the podium with a bottle of water in your hand, making sure all eyes are on you.

Innocence. It was. Youthful innocence. Sex and Drugs, yes, loads, but it was pure innocence. I was still a child in so many ways. After graduation I just moved from woman to woman, never really having to look after myself.

But wasn't I a triumph of capitalism and consumer choice? I, the consumer, working hard, to play hard?
Free Market Economics?

Well, you get time to think about these things.

The more one looks at all with unprejudiced eyes, the more one can see a society where systematic failure, increases by the day. We know it, because there's only one way you can measure a system, by the level of satisfaction people have with their lives.
Are we happier than our grandparents, as opposed to materially better off?
No. Because the gap between conceptual possibility and reality, is now huge, whereas in our grandparents day, the two were close. The system was still working.

Time was, when society would not have let me throw my life away. It would not have allowed a contribution to be wasted. It's human energy lost.

How much HUMAN energy do we waste? THAT is the question that matters.

Imagine if we used it all. Think of all those who we don't use, here in the West. Think of the labour wasted in the third world, simply by not providing proper technology.
And think of what a waste our employment system is. I sell you a phone system, so you can sell me back a photocopier. Most of us sell stuff to eachother, just we can sell stuff back. Eighty percent of the total labour of western humanity, simply serves to move assets around.


The economic and political system is basically, too archaic to suit modern requirements.
All it needs to do, is extract resources, process and manufacture goods, distribute them, feed people and transport people.
That REALLY IS all we need to be doing.

And that really, wouldn't take as much labour as we think.
And the rest of time?

We could run this planet, to European standards, assuming an equal infrastructure across the globe, on the basis of around fifteen hours labour contribution a week, each. True.

Imagine if we all did twenty.

Half as much work (Less, in most cases), everyone enjoying a middle class European living standard, 33% more productive as well, in terms of expanding the infrastructure.
Because that's the point of the putting in the extra. Extra Labour, extra resources put in building our dreams, habitats beyond our frontiers, place for humans of the future to live.

Let us pass 10 Billion, 100 Billion, a Trillion people, we will have the confidence to know that the mind of man will always feed and find homes, for her chidren.

It's doable. Once this phase, shackling us all, comes to an end.

Do I live for that?

YES, YES, I do.
That is all I have. That hope, that dream, that vision, is all I have left, and I will not lose it.

My own happiness is long gone. I'm finished, in terms of my real life identity. I live day to day, longing for the weekends, and when they come, I miss work. Life streches ahead of me, grey, lifeless. It's bleak. Soon I'll be too old to party. Settling down is a pipedream, I couldn't deal with it, it will never happen. I don't trust my grandmother with my phone number, so the idea that I could ever allow someone else to have access to a bank account my money is paid into, is completely unthinkable. And anyway, who wants to live with someone who will never really let them in? Who will only push them away if they truly try to share their life?

It's a bugger, because I'd love to have children, I just couldn't deal with the rest of it.
Of course I want children. Flawed as I might be, it's up to Darwinian laws to decide whether my genes are as junk as my life turned out to be.
Another pipedream.

And so, I find myself in a reverse situation to the rest of humanity, feathering their nest eggs and their pension funds, yet seeing the future as a nuclear holocaust, or an environmental disaster, or the current trend towards a global police state continuing forever.

You see, I don't really care too much what the future holds for me. Nothing to aim for, nothing to fear either.
The worst? AIDs? Overdose? Am I fussed?
Not really, no.

But I do care about the future any descendants of mine might have.

A united Earth, where a peaceful global confederacy rules over unarmed states, where the infrastructure is run to process and distribute in the most efficient manner possible, where the entire populace is the legislature, where voters can change their minds on the executive as often as is technologically posible, where the landscape is sculpted to maximum aesthetic standards, where the annual exponential population rise is matched by the triumphant abilities of humanity to expand it's habitat.

Where our technology supersedes the need for us to live this miserable existence.

Where people live together in vast communal households, where labour is divided to maximum efficiency.

We don't ALL need to wash our OWN clothes in our OWN washing machines.

And GOODBYE to people telling other people what should and shouldn't make them happy.

And this is why, I guess, I continue. After the ordeal I went through of late, you might wonder why I bother, why I continued in a situation which was driving me to nervous breakdown.

Because this is where I have the chance to redeem just a part of that rubble that is my life. It's worth fighting for. Nothing else I ever do, will be.

If my existence aids the future I pray for in coming about, then, no, I won't actually have lived in vain. I can't do a lot, but I can blog on the overlieing theory whilst I have breath in my body. That, actually has the capacity, to give me moments of satisfaction.

I still have something to live for.
I have something at least, worth the fight.


Anonymous said...

I should think that you probably have more to live for than you give yourself credit for.

What do you mean by social contribution? Some might argue that by working you already do that.

Anonymous said...

Of course you still have a lot to live for, Crushed. It may not seem like it now, but you have youth and usually, that means TIME so believe me, you can still do anything you want to! I'll tell you a secret, Crushed: you don't feel any different as you grow older; in your heart of hearts, you can be as daft and fall in love as easily at 50 [thank god] as you could at 15. But what you don't have is the ENERGY to get out there and make a difference. So go do it, Crushed, because you have experience of life that could really help others, if they but knew about it. And while you're concentrating on that, the future signora Crushed might just find you!

Anonymous said...

This is really sobering. There are certain aspects of life that make us feel outwardly secure; house; insurance; car; 2.5 kids; but none of that stuff really matters if we don't feel that we achieved a certain success inside. Happiness is not measured by those outside ideals, but rather how we feel about them. To say that it is too late for happiness is to say, "I give up because I m not happy right now." It's never too late for happiness measured moment by moment. Never. Life is all about choices.

It reminds me of the beginning of Trainspotting when Renton says,

"Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family, Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing sprit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all...Choose your future. Choose life.

And the ending when Renton's character changes.

"I'm cleaning up and I'm moving on, going straight and choosing life. I'm looking forward to it already. I'm going to be just like you: the job, the family, the fucking big television, the washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electrical tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisurewear, luggage, three-piece suite, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing the gutters, getting by, looking ahead, to the day you die."

See, we all go through those Trainspotting moments. If a junkie can turn his life around, so can you - if you choose life.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe you've really given up, Crushed. I think you are still very much looking but you can't yet see the woods for the trees. Maybe there are some doors closed to you but there are plenty more still open.

I have to come to terms with the fact that I will never make the social contribution maybe I could have done.

But were you on that path before? I don't think so. That's why you got into trouble because you had not yet found your role in life.

You know there are an awful lot of people who are not pursuing the material life. Sure you have to have a place to house your family, so you have to take care of that, but the greatest gift in life is to work at something you love to do and hopefully you are contributing to society.

I like to think I did that over my long career in the health industry and that the old scientist did his part in the academic world with research and teaching. Sure we have/had material things but they were not the aim of the game.

I think in a way you have a type of PSTD. You are still coming to terms with what happened. I'm sure it took an enormous amount of energy to get through it all and these lows are almost like a post adrenaline letdown.

But you know that's the miracle of the human spirit. We get up again when we have been knocked down, over and over. You have a strong spirit and your support system is strong too so you will find the way.

You haven't failed, you just made a detour down the wrong path. Remember that.

Anonymous said...

You still sound a like a real idealist to me Mr Ingsoc,and you believe in a kind of idyllic future -or at least a possible idyllic future. You cannot possibly think you are too old to achieve goals in your life. One stroke of luck can change everything for ever... I dont mean to get all sorts of useless material goods, I dont want them either, but to make a real impact on the world...

Anonymous said...

Oestrebunny- People. That's always something to live for :)

Without people, there really IS no purpose.

It's not a USEFUL contribution. It uses up energy. It is useful, in terms of the current economy.

But look at it as if my job was to rub sticks together to light a fire- an anachronism.

Welshcakes- I have things to enjoy, but nothing really to aim for, because I really can never acheive anything really positive AS ME, ie, in my own name. That was partly why I set this blog up.

I was talking to Chimney Sweep the other week about whether or not I wanted to fall in love. I'm still undecided. For a variety of reasons, I think it's unrealistic.

I still want to make a difference. It just seems to be hard to find a way.

Alexys- It pretty much sums up what dominates my entire thought processes.
I do think- no, I KNOW, that this blog plays a central role in my happiness- or lack thereof. To give up on it, really would be to give up on everything, which is why I've decided to start blogging properly again.

I firmly Crushed can flourish again, and right now, that's certainly what I'm looking forward to- that and a damn good party when I hit the big three zero.

jmb- I actually DID settle down at 22. I actually couldn't deal with it. In one sense, you could say she loved me too much. She needed me always there, and I really couldn't handle it. Anyway, she had an abortion and that's when I began just whacking stupid amounts of chemicals.

Bizarrely, at the same time, I almost stood as a CONSERVATIVE candidate for the local authority (yes, I know, that's hard to believe, but I was damn good on the doorstep, even if I was a party member for purely cynicalreasons, as in, the desire to be a PPC for the candiate WINNING elections when I was in my thirties).

Yes, realistically, I do have PTSD, in fact it's kind of like shellshock.
It's odd, I held it together in there, no problem.

High paid jobs, (as in £18 a week as opposed to £9), on the Listener scheme, I got into the tobacco loaning racket pretty early and pretty much kept on top of things, kept in with the right people.

I pulled it off. In the Green, I had a denim jacket. That might seem an odd status symbol, but it is. Reason is, 1400 cons, less than a hundred denim jackets- you need to have clout to get one.

In open gaol, I had the highest paid job, my own office, even a set of keys to the building. And I got hold of things most cons could neve dream of. Jam donuts, Nescafe, even an anglepoise lamp.

But it was two years solid of being on edge, of facing people off, of planning, of keeping a poker face, you cannot let your guard down for a SECOND. Bottom line is, you trust no one.
All the more so, if you are defending a position higher up the pile.
It's brutal.

And when you come out?
Picture phones. I'd never seen one. Remembering how to cross the road. Paying for things, with cash.

And it's easy. Everyone is easy. You can relax.
But it doesn't feel right.

You lie in bed at night expecting to hear night security walking past.

And suddenly yes, when the pressure lifts, you see the dent it's left in you.

I get edgy in a way I never used to, When people get in my way in crowds I want to physically move them out of my way.
I get panic attacks as well sometimes and I don't like being alone.

I can also succumb to what I can only describe as panic attacks- these were probably most acute when I was having my harrassment problems last Autumn, on one occasion I actually ran out of the flat and broke a table lamp in my flight. I also smashed the housephone up in a fit of hysteria to stop the phone calls. It still rings, but you can't answer it anymore, until I buy a new handset.

I actually broke down quite badly on the last day of work before Xmas, after I'd got back- long story, but I'm glad the Baker was staying. We actually went for a night time walk in the country, and it really did calm me a lot.

But, yes, I get up again pretty quick.

Mutley- It seems like an idyll, but actually it IS possible.
It's trying to demonstrate that, that seems to be the hard part.

It really is all about systems and infrastructure.
I will be getting back to my posts on human systematic history.

Then I will be writing on the system of the future, the one I TRULT believe will deliver.

Anonymous said...

I was glad to read that last line.
Because, as I was reading this, I was getting a little sad-- hard to think of the notion that someone with this much passion and so many ideas not realizing the importance of it all.