It’s hopeless….. enjoy it!

22 01 2013

pollardDave Pollard, whom I introduced to Damnthematrix some time ago, is at it again……  it’s so so nice to run into a good blogger every now and again…

At his website, Dave posted Ten Things To Do When You’re Feeling Hopeless. This resonated with me so much, I’m going to discuss it with you here…..

  1. Give up hope: That’s right, get off the hope/despair roller coaster and realize once and for all it’s hopeless! You should have known when a US presidential candidate won an election on a platform of mere ‘hope’ that it was time to give it up. Derrick Jensen explains how and why to get Beyond Hope:

    The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in [Pandora’s] box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line… People sometimes ask me, ‘If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?’ The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good… Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation.

    Years ago, after giving one of my very first Peak Oil presentations to a branch of hopeful Greens Party members, I was told in no uncertain terms by an older member of said branch that my presentation was deficient in that it gave no hope for her teenage daughter who was present…..  I admit, I had not given the issue any thought, because, frankly, I had already reached the stage where I thought there were actually no solutions to keeping business as usual going, and surely members of the Greens Party already knew this…..  Now of course I realise that most people who vote Green do so because they believe in false hope, that the world can be run on wind and solar power.  I don’t know how to fix that.  In many ways, “hopeful people” are actually as intransigent as climate change deniers!  They’re hooked on HOPIUM…..

  2. Explore your gifts and passions with someone you love: Get together with someone you love and tell each other what you really care about, what you have real passion for, and what you think really needs to be done in the world, that you think you could actually contribute to usefully, and would really enjoy doing. Then tell each other what you think each other’s gifts to the world are, the things that other person is, in your view, uniquely good at doing. I bet you’ll feel things starting to shift, in ways that are practical, and intentional, instead of just desperately, uselessly hopeful.

    I do this with my wife constantly……  I can vouch it works…

  3. Be good to yourself: If you’ve been reading the previous points, you should now appreciate that it’s perfectly understandable, even sensible, to feel hopeless. We’re fucked, and you know it, but still you’re doing your part, taking responsibility, doing important work to mitigate or help adapt to the hopeless future we all face, right? So ease off. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Give yourself a break. Pamper yourself. Have a long hot bath by candlelight, with your favourite music playing. Go for a walk in the moonlight, or sleep under the stars. Play something, or just play around, by yourself or with those you love. Have chocolate by the fire. Celebrate the fact that you’re smart enough, informed enough, strong enough, sensitive enough, to feel utterly hopeless. You have to love that!

    He’s right you know…. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  I celebrate with chocolate, beer, espresso coffee (not all at once!!), and loads of good cooking….  you really need to do this.  I remember a couple of years ago totally shocking a friend of Glenda’s when she asked me what goals I had set for the year and answering…  none!  I’ve already achieved everything, I don’t want anything else…  of course now I have the Tassie experiment as a new goal to look forward to.

  4. Cry (like an elephant): Research suggests that crying is a natural response to stress and grief, with enormous therapeutic value: “Tears aren’t just salt water; they contain leucine enkephalin, an endorphin that modulates pain, and hormones such as prolactin and adrenocorticotropic hormone, released at times of stress. Tears [might] be the body’s way of flushing out excess stress hormones… a safety valve.” Elephants, with exceptionally large brains and memories, visit the sites of pack-mates’ past deaths or suffering every day for years, to remember and to cry, according to research by Jeff Masson. It’s natural, it feels good, and it’s good for you. So why does our culture not want us to cry when we feel hopeless? Hmmm.

    I don’t do this anywhere near enough.  I think I’ve become so immune to the whole catastrophe that I no longer even feel bad about it…  Not even death makes me cry anymore.  Even when my goat died last year, I was upset, but I didn’t cry.  I accept it as inevitable, I’m ready for it, I don’t even care.  I think.  I won’t really know until either my mother or Glenda’s mother dies.  Maybe it’ll come back to me..

  5. Listen to kids talk about what they care about: Kids are hopeless. By that I mean that, until their parents, peers and the education system brainwash them to start planning and hoping for their future, and living inside their heads, they live in the present, without hope. By listening to them we can relearn what it means to live without the need to hope, to just accept and be.

    I have young nieces and nephews.  All they seem to care about is what’s on the nearest screen.  It’s all they appear to care about these days as far as I’m concerned….

  6. Learn to be “present” like wild creatures: Like young children, wild creatures don’t live in hope. They too live in the real world, in the present. They have much to teach us about the First Principles of living, hopelessly: Be generous. Value your time. Live naturally. Learn to be present, your own way — meditation, exercise, walks in the woods — whatever works for you. Hope and hopelessness are both about the future. When you are present, neither has any hold on you.

    You can’t live like us and not do this.  One thing’s for sure, I need to learn to meditate.

  7. Talk with other hopeless people: We’re all part of the Earth organism, and it’s hopeless for all of us, so acknowledging that and starting to talk about it knowingly and honestly is the first step in making peace with our hopelessness, and with our collective grief. Perhaps it’s time to challenge the taboo in our culture that we must not admit to, or talk about, the hopelessness of our situation, and our feelings of hopelessness. You might start with someone you care about who you haven’t talked with in a long time. Right now, yeah, leave a message if you have to, and persevere. When you do converse, forget about catching up on old news or talking about future plans. Talk about what you’re doing and feeling right now. Including the feelings of hopelessness. Bring them into your present and they’ll bring you into the present in return, and out of the “hopeless” future.

    As it happens, I do know lots of hopeless people, but most of them live rather far away, so the only way I can talk to them is over this piece of technology.  It’s better than nothing, but I have to admit to looking forward to having more hopeless people around me in Tassie…..  it’s definitely one of the reasons I want to go there….

  8. Avoid unactionable news and “self-help” books: The media don’t have a clue, and the “news” is all about what has already happened, dumbed down, sensationalized and oversimplified to the point of meaninglessness. And skip the “good news” pap and the technophiles’ gee-whiz “future’s so bright and green I gotta wear shades” new invention news, too. It’s all designed to make you feel hopeful, so you don’t rise up and do something dangerous or appropriate to the worst of the perpetrators who have, in fact, made everything hopeless. And while you’re dispensing with hopeless reading, throw out all those so-called “self-help” books with their glib prescriptions for you how you should live. There are gazillions of them out there, clogging the aisles of bookstores everywhere. Most of their readers will tell you (even as they buy more of them, stupidly, hopefully): They don’t work! Things are the way they are for a reason. You are the way you are for a reason. Accept what is. Appreciate it. Make peace with it. It’s all good. It’s absurd to hope that some stupid book is going to change it. Donate your “self-help” money instead to those who truly embrace hopelessness, like the local homeless people, or your local food bank, or animal rescue centre, or radical activist group. And when you’re picking what to read, choose poetry and stories about the present, not nostalgic or traumatic stories about the past or cautionary tales about the future.

    A friend actually invited us to a “self help” seminar recently…..  I was appalled.  What was the matter with her?  All she needed to do was talk to ME!  Obviously we declined…  I toss religious belief in with that self help crap…  doesn’t do you any good.  Can’t understand what happened to critical thinking, must’ve gone out the window with whatever is on TV.  Speaking of TV, I almost never watch commercial TV…  can’t stand the ads for starters, but the quality is also appalling.  And even when watching what’s on the ABC or SBS I’m choosy….

  9. Dream: Dreams are alternate realities, and they are realities we can create and control. When you give vent to your imagination, it can manifest, ‘real-ize’ wonderful inventions — works of art, with amazing healing, communicating, inspirational and transformative power. Your dreams are clues to your gift to the world

    I only have one dream right now…..  moving to Tassie of course.  At my age (it’s obvious Pollard is much younger than me!) , you should’ve achieved pretty well everything you needed or wanted to.

  10. Fall in love: I have no advice at all on how to do this. All I know is that it works. It’s risky and addictive, for sure, and for most of us its most blissful effects wear off too fast. But nature has given us this wonderful state of foolish, invincible, chemical-induced grace, and it makes us immune to both hope and hopelessness.

    This one……  I don’t think my wife of 35 years will allow!  I can remember (dimly….) being in love…  go for it!

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2 responses

23 01 2013
mikestasse

Clive Hamilton in his “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change” describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.” This obliteration of “false hopes,” he says, requires an intellectual knowledge and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means that those we love, including our children, are almost certainly doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire. To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and continue to resist the forces that are destroying us.

23 01 2013
lemmiwinks

I pretty much did #1 ages back. IMO the whole problem is self-correcting eventually anyway (very unpleasant but self-correcting nonetheless) so why worry? Ignoring politicians (who are largely irrelevant although they haven’t realised it yet) and not watching/reading the news (or allowing your eyes to glaze over when it’s on) are some of the best attitude improving things I’ve done.

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