if you’re going to try, go all the
otherwise, don’t even start.
if you’re going to try, go all the
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.
go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
how much you really want to
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
you can imagine.
if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
do it, do it, do it.
all the way
all the way.
you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, it’s
the only good fight
I’ve been too timid in my life, with my predictions, and in the advice I’ve offered. A recent exception is the Edge of Extinction episode posted here (transcript is copied immediately beneath the song following this short essay). I’ve lived on the edge, relative to my cultural contemporaries. It has not been enough. It is still not enough.
I’ve not gone three or four days without eating. I’ve not frozen on a park bench. I’ve not been jailed (although I have taught poetry in jail).
Actually, I was born into captivity (to quote Tim Bennett), along with my cultural contemporaries. I gleefully entered the indoctrination facilities of public education, believing they would set me free. As an adult, I used the expectations of others as bars to reinforce my confinement. For too long, I failed to recognize the cage surrounding me. Beyond the bounds of societal and cultural indoctrination, I am mostly free, finally.
I’m freer than most people I know. I’m free to think. I live at the edge of society, dipping in only as necessary. I peek in primarily to be reminded of the horrors. My lenses are insufficient to allow extended views at the “goddamn disasterpants clusterfuck” of contemporary society.
I’ve experienced derision, mockery, rejection, and intense isolation. Physical isolation is a gift, although it took me a long while in the desert to realize it. Intellectual isolation is a curse. Lacking peers is painful, and I’m peerless with respect to my professional calling. Yet I do not suffer.
Pain is requisite for thoughtful individuals. Suffering is optional, as allowed by enlightenment. Distinguishing personality from reality is key, as is separating factual evidence from one’s personal, emotional response to the evidence. Both tasks are a few steps beyond the vast majority of individuals in a purposely dumbed-down culture dominated by willful ignorance.
Opinions are not evidence, even when the opinions are provided by celebrities. My own acceptance of evidence has engendered my liberation. I’m not alone, judging from the appreciative messages I receive each day.
I’m asked nearly every day for advice about living. I recommend living fully. I recommend living with intention. I recommend living urgently, with death in mind. I recommend the pursuit of excellence. I recommend the pursuit of love. It’s small wonder I’m often derided, mocked, rejected, and isolated by my contemporaries.
In light of the short time remaining in your life, and mine, I recommend all of the above, louder than before. More fully than you can imagine. To the limits of this restrictive culture, and beyond.
For you. For me. For us. For now.
Live large. Be you, and bolder than you’ve ever been. Live like you’re dying. Because you are.
I’m often accused of downplaying the horrors associated with the breakdown of this set of living arrangements. In a similar vein, I’m accused of failing to provide the mechanism by which 7.5 billion people will soon die. I’m here to set both records straight. I still don’t know when you will die, or how. And I do not desire the outcome I foresee.
First of all, apparently I need to point out the ongoing horrors of industrial civilization, the most violent set of living arrangements ever devised. Many are tortured and killed so that a few, privileged people can retain their privilege. If you’re among the families of the millions who die every year as a result of anthropogenic climate change, I need not convince you. If you’re among the families of the millions who die every year at the hand of the United States military, I need not convince you. Many already live, and die, at the receiving end of oppression.
What does the future hold? There’s little doubt Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 book, The Road, was optimistic. That book included survivors. This one doesn’t.
Civilization will collapse catastrophically, for any number of reasons. Climate change likely will be a primary driver. When industrial civilization reaches its overdue end, there will be no fuel at the filling stations, no food at the grocery stores, and no water coming out the municipal taps. Unpaid first responders will return home to care for their families. The world’s abandoned nuclear facilities will melt down catastrophically.
Leading causes of human mortality will include dehydration as the water stops flowing through the taps, starvation due to lack of food delivery, disease as prevention and treatment facilities are shuttered, suicide as horror-film fantasy becomes reality, and predation leading to cannibalism. I’ve no doubt desperate people accustomed to enormous privilege will resort to desperate measures to stay alive.
The initial shock will be horrific. The expectation of systems being restored will give way to resignation only one dying person at a time. Desperate pleas for help will be met with silence.
And then it’ll all get worse.
The dead will be envied by the living even as the evolutionarily motivated will to live persists. The survivors will see a world virtually lacking life. Non-human animals will be unable to keep up with rapidly disintegrating ecosystems. There will be no food, no habitat. Plants cannot move and cannot be moved because the fragile web of mychorizae, fungi, and other place-based organisms will die in soils abruptly too dry, too wet, too hot, and too cold.
Earth will increasingly resemble Mars. The last humans will die miserably in their bunkers, thirsty, hungry, lonely except for like-minded sociopaths, and marinating in ionizing radiation. The year: 2025.