“If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation.”
I put that up as a tag line in 2016. We’re in one of those periods in time when people are prone to totally losing their shit in large groups. The tag line and different kinds of writing were, in my half assed and ineffective way, an attempt to lead by example. I started writing about squirrels and (with more than a few failures) cut back on the politics. It didn’t help globally but it’s good individually to climb out of the quagmire. It’s a smart move even if you can’t carry the world up the hill on your own shoulders. I take some satisfaction in knowing that I had less to do with our current levels of unhinged hatred than I might otherwise have.
And now it’s time to discuss stampeding asshattery:
(Hat tip to 357 Magnum.) I get it. Really, I do. It’s fun to get together with like minded (or should I say hive-minded) folks and do something mindless. Road trip to some arbitrarily chosen location, people who are gathered for a common purpose, taking a day off work, etc… It’s non productive but it lets you blow off steam. How else do I explain drinking tequila on a beach?
That said, screaming helplessly at the sky is probably the worst possible way to blow off steam. It’s right there in the title. Helplessly. Resignation is not good for you. Why not a less… nihilist… activity?
Here’s an example:
If you’re going to do anything helplessly at the sky, try gazing at wonder. Bask in the glory that is all around us. Cool your jets for a while and reflect on how goddamn awesome it is to be alive.
I traveled to see the eclipse. I was helpless before the sky. I did not scream in fury. It had nothing to do with the Orange Menace or the Pantsuited Felon. The universe is bigger than that. Anyone who sat out the total eclipse but makes a trip to scream in hopeless fury is misusing their short lifespan.
This is what I wrote:
“I saw veil of the universe pulled back. I saw eternity. For something like two and a half minutes, I peered past our atmosphere and beyond the ubiquitous yellow haze of normalcy and reached out into the firmament. I saw infinity.”
So which would a sane person prefer? Pull back the veil of the universe or stand around screaming like an idiot? Which is better for your mental health?
It should be obvious that “hopeless screaming” is a terrible idea. Being hopeless as a group activity is crack with a side of heroin; delivered as a suppository into the corpse where your spirit should reside. Don’t build a jail out of your own mind. If you have the time and resources to drive all the way to Boston but can’t think of anything better to do than wallow in group dynamics of frustration and screaming over the irrelevant dust mote that is politics, you’re lost.
Become un-lost. Pick up a metaphorical compass and find a better activity.
Find something that doesn’t force you into publicly flogging yourself in a pit of self inflicted futility. Show some fucking agency in your life. It’s better to do anything positive than it is to scream like a toddler denied a cookie. Nobody wants to be a toddler. Here are some ideas:
Drive to the end of the continent and gaze at the ocean waves. Boston ‘aint far from the Atlantic. Leave screaming for childlike idiots and thoughtfully watch the sunrise over the waves. Enjoy being the evolved self aware being we were all born to be.
Wanna’ feel helpless? Go skydiving and find out how much gravity cares about your student loans. (I went skydiving and all hell broke loose. You can bet your ass I wasn’t thinking about immigration policy while I tumbled in the sky.)
Ideas flow easily once you let go of the hate: Go fishing. Take a kid to get ice cream. Buy that big box of Legos you really wanted. Make a scale model of Angelina Jolie’s breasts. Read a fucking book! Play a board game. Have sex. Toast a marshmallow. See how fast your car goes on an open empty highway. Watch the Muppets. Walk a dog. Drive to Oregon and spend a week baked on legal weed. Bake a cake. Go rafting.
I can do this all day. Alternatives are easy to find. That’s how I know the hopeless ones are addicted to misery. Folks are injecting hatred directly into their arteries and it’s eroding them. I can think of few ideas worse than getting together with a self reinforcing group of the unhappy and being hopeless en masse.
If you know folks who are this far gone, endeavor to help them. Conversely, if they start to drag you down, cut them loose. They’ve had a year to embrace reality and are still fighting it. It’s consuming them.