An Ode to Conformity
In some ways, you mimic wrongfully administered anaesthetics. You are deemed safe, and as such, you have the trust of your subject. You are, at first, like many lethal substances, so enticing, enrapturing, comforting. Your effects are subtle, as your victim begins to slip under your spell. It is no secret that often, all a person wants is to fall into a more subdued state of being, one where feeling and pain are not as vivid and debilitating. You capitalize on this desire for desensitization.
The sedation intensifies and the subject finds himself fighting the urge to fall asleep but before long, you consume him entirely and he is rendered powerless, unable to control his own fate. When he awakens, he is different, although, he is unsure how. He feels a muted pain, a yearning for the truth somewhere within himself but he is frequently persuaded that nothing is wrong, that the subtle pain does not exist. It will subside.
In a similar manner, you are like quicksand. You can be encountered early into an exciting new adventure. Just as an unfortunate explorer can find himself suddenly sinking into the once solid ground beneath his feet, you ambush the unsuspecting target and begin to pull him under. At first, you act slowly, so he barely notices and then, once he is so very far gone, you assert your presence.
You reside in beautiful places, and as he is engulfed, he can see the glistening water in the distance and the lush green of the trees becoming increasingly distant. You know that more often than not, when someone is in that deep, it can seem almost impossible to get out. The more he fights to keep his head above the ground, the faster you endeavour to swallow him whole, until finally, he surrenders and accepts his solemn fate. He is enveloped in mud and dirt, all the while aware of the enchantment in his close proximity, which has fallen, just out of his reach.
Finally, I suppose that you resemble the ocean on a stormy day. When contemplated from afar, you seem harmless, beautiful even. You ebb and you flow and the rhythmic dance of your waves seems infrangible. Some only observe you, as they know it is easy to get swept into your depths. But the people, the ones who have come all this way, they cannot bare not to bathe in the the subjective safety of your shallow waters, surrounded by floating barriers and overlooked by people in towers.
You seem tranquil, so they trust you. But, in the blink of an eye, your tides change, and the swimmers are rendered impuissant to your merciless undertow. Although they initially try to swim against the current, they eventually resign themselves to drowning. You hold them there, submerged under the surface, where they are unable to breathe, feel or be free. And, in a moment, you are calm again and more unsuspecting victims prepare to fall prey.
How easy it is to find oneself in your pernicious embrace. It is so very exasperating and deeply deplorable that you place yourself between people and magic and that you are the norm; the rule, and not the exception. You have this capacity to manipulate us all, to convince us that existing, as opposed to truly living, is an acceptable condition. Your ability to numb, to drown, to divert attention away from the desperation that is brewing beneath the surface, to prevent any action that might lead to true joy and liberation—the way in which you paralyze your victims in your unwavering grip, it is all truly impressive but incredibly demoralizing.
Fear is what fuels you, drives you, what exacerbates your prevalence—society’s collective consciousness acting increasingly upon a conditioned fear of the unknown, of not fitting in, of perceived failure, and what else have you. People choose you because you are simple, you are safe, you are a set of instructions, a direct template that they can simply replicate in order to achieve “success”.
In reality though, you are not success at all. Under your supervision, people have lost themselves, the individuals and the things they love. They have left behind the passions that ignite the fire within them. The people. They have lost that sparkle in their eye, that belief in magic and that ability to so deeply feel. The possibility to experience life in its most resplendent and beautiful form; they have lost it. The people, us people, the sedated ones. We have missed the entire point because we have been too afraid to defy you, too afraid to follow the true calling of our hearts and souls.
Conformity, you have failed us but you have not won. You have not won because, when we take the time—the time to breathe, to quiet our logical minds, to truly delve within ourselves, to get in touch with the essence of our being, to listen to our hearts and our subconscious cues, such as our dreams, feelings and inclinations—when we take that time, it becomes clear that we know exactly what we must do. We may not know how and the path will not be as direct as the one that you recommend but we are willing to risk it. We will take back our lives.
To the dreamers who no longer dream and the lovers who no longer love and the magicians who no longer make magic, please, give me something to believe in. Please, go and live. Go and feel. Re-visit something that once made you feel awake. And when I say feel, I want you to really fucking feel. Not “feel” like you are doing the “right thing” or “feel” like you’re on the “sensible path”, according to pre-determined societal standards. I want you to feel alive, and free, and in love, and joyous, and at peace, and excited, and sure, at times, maybe in pain but there is no pain greater than the constant numb of feeling little to nothing at all.
I want you to read literature and I mean, real literature, about love and conflict, and pain and suffering, and lust and elation. I want you to practice empathy by putting yourself in the shoes of each character, of each poet, of each soul. I want you to feel the duality, the disparity of emotions. I want you to embrace that chaos and accept the impermanence of all things. I want you to write love letters; real ones. Not the ones about how you’re compatible because you have mutual friends, and your moms like the other, and it conveniently fits into your 10 year plan. Real letters to the ones you think of in your moments of absolute bliss and of soul-crushing devastation; to those who nearly destroy you with their ability to make you feel alive.
If you are passionate about something, please pursue it. If you want a different life, then make it happen. If you love someone, tell them. I want your words to be real and your emotions raw. I want you to find the intensity within you that you swallowed so long ago; not that angry one, but the one that lights up your whole face and fills your heart up so much that you feel like you’re going to be fucking sick. I want you to kiss passionately and dance carelessly and love fiercely.
I want your heart to race with anticipation when you wake up each and every day and I want your eyes to glisten with excitement when you look at your life, at your partner, at your surroundings, at yourself. I want you to say: fuck complacency and take a risk.
There are no fireworks without the ignition of a flame, just as there is no appreciation for the sun if it doesn’t ever rain. To experience the highs, there will be lower than lows but the beauty is, that it will never not be worth it. I want you to live.