Eras change as their illusions burn out, and a lot of illusions are presently on fire. Many millions are newly unemployed with no savings. Probably more are deeply in debt with their income being slashed. These people – most of them reliable friends and neighbors – have been pushed and pulled into the situation they find themselves and are facing the hard death of their dreams.
Letting go of dreams is a hard thing to do. And even those of us who saw this coming are facing it, as it’s fairly certain that daily life will be changing for all of us.
Back in the 1960s it was common to say “Tune in, turn on, drop out,” and plenty of young people did. Now it looks like the phrase may run in reverse: Drop Out, Tune In, Turn On.
In the ‘60s people turned away from the corporate conformity of the 1950s, deciding that they wanted more out of life than to be an adequately-fed cog of a big machine. These days the system has turned against its cogs, dropping them out of the machine. But the tuning in and turning on may follow. In fact, we should all be working for them to follow, because if they don’t, we’re all in a lot of trouble.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Humans have a habit of running stories through their heads: We look at a situation and gauge our reactions by how well they fit with the stories we tell ourselves.
Letting go of dreams, even misguided ones, requires us to re-arrange our stories, and that’s not painless.
Personally, I think this story-telling has gone too far, but that’s irrelevant for the moment; we have to deal with people who are already at their overload point. So, for whatever it’s worth, here’s a story line (and a true one, as I see it) that you may find useful for your friends and neighbors:
The life scripts we were fed, if we’re honest about it, were really pretty bad. They required us to sell our long-term satisfaction for illusions. Being pushed out of it may prove to be a blessing.
A screenplay I wrote some years back (it’s in our Member’s area) included this dialog between two of the characters after they were dropped out and were tuning in:
DAVID And what about you? SOPHIE This has changed me. DAVID How? SOPHIE Honestly, it woke me up. I was living the aristocratic French life. My father was an important man, I went to the best schools, they got me the perfect job, I was dating a boy of the upper class. But the whole thing fell apart in a moment. I don’t want anyone to suffer, but now I don’t really care if France ever comes back to what it was, and I don’t think I want to be part of it… God, I’m speaking treason. DAVID If that’s what you really think, you should say it. SOPHIE You’re right, but I’ve wandered from my subject... I was never more than an obedient child. They never forced me to obey – they didn’t have to. I was swept along by everyone else. I had a nicer path than the others, so I took it. But… I was second to the path... DAVID Do you mean that you were merely a placeholder? SOPHIE Yes! That’s what I mean! My place was a good one, but it had nothing to do with me – I was just a position. I want to be ME, not a placeholder, even of a very nice place. DAVID That’s very good. SOPHIE Yes, but what scares the hell out of me is that without the fall of France, I might never have noticed.
If this type of change happens to a sufficient number of the “dropped out,” we’re golden. Humans are engines of creation; we are able to imagine and to turn our imaginations into reality.
By dropping out, we stop wasting oceans of time and energy on governments and politics. We stop paying attention to the hundreds of ads we see every day. We stop buying trendy things for the sake of impressing silly people. We stop trying to fit in and stop living according to other people’s expectations. We rediscover ourselves.
A Final Thought
Do you remember all those times in the Bible where Jesus berated people for being “hypocrites”? Well, the real word he used was actors – as in stage actors. And whether you’re religious or not, this is crucial:
We’ve been acting in someone else’s play, and those roles were not written for our benefit.
It’s time for us to let go of the masks, to stop playing the roles and to rediscover ourselves. And what we end up finding, once we get down to it, is that we’re really pretty cool.