The business of living

'Twas the summer of 2020 and I was busy picking up the pieces of my recently uprooted life, intent on hastily assembling the jangling discord into something even remotely resembling purpose. I’m quite fortunate in that I have, for the most part, always known what I want to do with my life. However, at that point, I had fallen somewhat out of love with the practice I had chosen to dedicate my life to. I suppose I must have adopted something of a disenfranchised view of everything and as I stared down the barrel of a career in “cyber” the world definitely seemed to have a little less colour.

I distinctly recall thinking about the tribesmen who live apart from the world, secreted in the Amazon, sheltered in the heart of Africa and feeling an inordinate amount of jealousy. How wonderful it must be to truly captain one’s own life. How blissful it must be not to have to give a damn. My envy was palpable. I looked at what they had and saw freedom but viewing my own socially integrated existence I saw the very opposite. In that moment, it felt to me as if we are born, shepherded down a path of societal expectation and then consigned to a square inch of the earth ready to resume the dance of dust to dust.

Yes, after half a year of being led by an incompetent, perennially u-turning central-intelligence, intent on flip-flopping itself out of office, I was feeling a little sorry for myself, and I knew it but still the feeling remained. That said, despite the hopelessness I felt (or maybe because of it) a glimmer of hope came into view. I began to muse, perhaps I felt the way I felt not because of what was going on around me but because of the way in which I was relating to it. That seems a little bit like an insincere thought but it became the mast onto which I pinned the flag of all my hopes.

I realised that I had become something of an abscess on the world; not apart from it but still not a part of it. There I was on the side-lines determined to find fault, intent on being wronged and so naturally all that I could see what was wrong with the world. It remains an irrevocable truth that if you search for fault, you will find fault. That is not to say that we should turn a blind eye to all that is amiss but rather that we should adopt a higher mode of sight. One that allows us to see the fault, but also lets us look into the layer below where solutions are able to be glimpsed.

That’s what allowed me to jump back into the hurly burly of living my dream again but perhaps to you it will sound like utter nonsense. So be it. It is not the final realisation that is important (after all that is mine and so perhaps useful only to me), what’s important is the thought behind it. The guiding principle: which is that while we have no influence over the actions of others and what is going on in the world, we have all the influence over how we choose to perceive it.

I realise that it can sometimes seem like we are caught up in a whirlwind not of our own making and that it can be tempting to want to remove oneself from the chaos but navigating this chaos is the very business of living. If viewed as an obstacle such a chaos will seem insurmountable - viewing it as such generally makes it such. However, when one allows themselves to see it all as a puzzle, a jigsaw to be solved - not in one go but piece by piece: solutions begin to reveal themselves and a little bit of the colour that was lost from the world begins to trickle back in again.

Marshall is a self-taught student of psychology, hugely interested in diasporic politics and contending with the question of how we can all best function within an increasingly polarised society.


Disclaimer: All views expressed in this piece belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views of Demographica Limited as a company.

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