On my way to bed last night, I walked past a mirror and saw a fat and down-trodden looking man staring back at me. Dead eyes of a mindless consumer, the dull aura of disappointment and failed dreams, pale skin of submission and the soft hands of meek compliance. What a poor soul, I thought, I’d hate to be that guy. Oh shit….
I’m a 44 year-old, white Englishman, married to a wonderful wife and with two wonderful children. I live in a beautiful English town and work for a small company filled with essentially reasonable and polite people, all earning a decent wage, enough money to buy themselves into an early grave. Conversation around the coffee machine is generally polite, occasionally edgy, but rarely interesting. I’m probably considered dull, but a good, honest citizen, walking the path of work, to retirement, to death. Death by something like cancer, heart disease, general Western illness etc from living a life devoid of independent thought, rarely considering what I put into my body. I happily eat chips, knocked back with a diet coke, a bag of crisps and a few beers after work. Everyone does it, can it really be that bad can it?
It was a small moment in the general scheme of things, but significant. A realization that a deep unease blanketed my life. It’s there like cosmic background radiation, ubiquitous but stifling and silent. It’s formed of an uncomfortable truth that I am wasting my life, living in quiet despair and utterly unprepared for the majority of challenging situations that may arise. I have no control, no direction and limited goals.
My children walk a pre-ordained path through education. We eat what we see, often without thought. I look to the state for protection and support. I understand that the country and planet are going to shit, but I am reactive, not stepping aside from the common path, not challenging myself to take a stand or find a different way.
I realise that I’m worried about my health, my impact on the planet, my kids, my job, our diet, finances, the country I live in, my ability to defend myself and my family. I feel impotent and frustrated, a passenger passively observing my own life being auto-piloted down a smooth highway.
I’ve been walking and living in a dream. A willing participant, yet unwilling to take control of the things that matter most in my life. Things need to change.