I think so much of the key to getting through whatever it may be that you are getting through, is to keep going. Keep moving forward. Just keep going, don't get derailed. I think this is true on the micro and macro, the day to day and the year to year. Just keep moving and keep going. Consistency, confidence and conviction. This is true in style as is in life.
Life is difficult right now. For some it is more difficult than others, but for a great many of us, it is difficult. For 2 years there has been a global pandemic which has turned the world upside down. This is the truth, it doesn't matter how you understand or interpret what is going on, no matter what your opinion about this detail or that detail. The world before the pandemic felt different than the world we inhabit now.
I don't live in a city, I live in a small town and the last time I wore a mask was months ago. Where I live I almost never have to wear a mask, I am not even among those who feel many pandemic restrictions. The restrictions I encounter on a daily basis are very few. Yet, still even in my removed state, the impact is still felt in 100 other little ways. How much more so for the average person who lives in a city, who works a job that has pulled them back and forth in so many different directions?
The past 2 years have seen changes in almost every aspect of our lives. The economic result of these past 24 months has made and continues to make life more and more difficult for more and more of us. In very general terms, unless you are rich, you are struggling more than you were a few years ago. Parents are fearful of the future for their children. Single men and women feel lost in terms of serious dating prospects. I am not sure anyone I talk to feels as though the dating field is healthy. I had a conversation with a friend of mine last night, he is single, lives in New York City, he is quite religious and wants a wife and family. We were talking about how the pandemic impacted the dating scene there over the past 2 years. I feel for him and so many others like him. Things are difficult. Population collapse is occurring across the entire West. The dark cultural forces that were already spreading across our civilization before, have taken root in deeper ways and are targeting us and our children at greater frequency and intensity. The future is very unsure, it can feel very dark.
I am not saying all of this to be overly depressive or anything like that. Actually, the opposite. We are in a difficult time, it is okay to accept that. It is okay to acknowledge it. We must not despair, give up or let things get worse. We don't have to lie either. I think for some, lying is helpful. It helps them to deny reality and thusly helps them to keep a positive outlook. I understand that, it's a smart tactic. Maybe we are designed to do that sometimes and in someways, especially at the bottom. Maybe it is a survival instinct and for some it comes up, raises to the surface more than others. For me, personally, I think it is more sustainable to accept and understand the reality, yet keep your head about you, resolve to move forward and move through with confidence. Acknowledge where you are, what is going on, and face it. For myself, it gives my heart and my spirit a boost.
I am thinking about this because me and my family are a normal family, we are not immune to any of what is going on. Times are difficult, economically it is extraordinarily difficult, culturally, we are up against truly dark evil forces. Some people say "this is the new normal" in some weird almost gleeful acceptance. Strange. Some refuse the new normal because they reject what is being thrust on us. I obviously feel like this, I am with those in the latter camp. I remember back in March of 2020, we went to the store and saw someone wearing a mask. We recoiled. We thought to ourselves - "We don't wear those here, this something they do in Asia, we don't wear these. It's not our culture." That was the first person we ever saw wearing a mask due to the Virus. It is interesting thinking back to that experience.
There are things that have changed and we cannot do anything about that. People have changed, what has been revealed about people has changed us. We know things now about people and the world we live in that we didn't before. Perhaps we should have known them before, or maybe not. Nevertheless, we do now know things which we didn't before. In a way, it is true this is the new normal. Not in some way of masks or vaccines or school closings and capacity limitations. Those are more temporal. Rather, we have learned things, we have experienced things, and that changes our world, changes ourselves. The world is different, and it is true, we are not going back. The world is always changing. The world changed in 2020, it changed in 2016, it changed in 2001 etc... Always forward.
We are in a spiritual war, a historical war, a cultural war, a reality war. We can feel it internally even if it isn't as obvious to everyone externally. Men and women are concerned. Parents are concerned. Many don't know how concerned they should be. Some aren't aware at all. There are those who are in touch enough with themselves know they are more concerned than they would like to admit. In fact, maybe they are actually quite nervous and so nervous in fact that they don't want to say it out loud. So gravely grim and nervous that they only feel comfortable telling or even acknowledging 3 or 4 parts of the 10. The other parts, the parts they truly fear, they push down. Don't speak of it. In a way, speaking makes it real.
I think about this because things have always been difficult. Things have been difficult in different ways and different times. Yes, of course we do not live in the Soviet Union. No, we are not, thank God, living in Europe during the terror of the Nazi regime. No, we do not live in any of the 100s, 1000s of periods prior when starvation, horrific violence and bare meager existence was commonplace. We have difficulties now, things are troubling, the future is dark, but it has been darker, it has been harder in different ways for our ancestors. That isn't to devalue our feelings today, just put them in perspective. And in other way, God gives each generation the struggles they receive for a reason. Our ancestors received the struggles that were appropriate for them and we receive that which is appropriate for us. We know that to handle the struggles our ancestors endured would be incredibly difficult for us. I don't think this is surprising, this seems obvious. Something that I think is less obvious to many is that on the other side of the coin, perhaps the struggles we endure would also be very difficult for our ancestors to handle.
We, in our generation, in our time, suffer under a kind of psychological warfare that our ancestors didn't encounter. We are driven crazy and to the brink and expected not to break. We are made into liars, daily. Told to lie with the (economic) Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads ready to fall at any moment if we dare tell the truth. The Kafka-esque economic, social, civilizational reality that we inhabit would drive our ancestors crazy. I don't think they could handle it. I really don't. They may lose their minds. Our struggle, our time, our menacing villains are those which drive us mad in the mind. They don't break our bodies as much as those villains of the past. They don't cut as many down in the prime of their youth. We have mastered much of medicine. What haunts us are forces which drive us into insanity, into world-denial and villains that attempt to break us mentally and spiritually. We were not made for the challenges of our ancient ancestors, our ancestors were not made for the challenges of post-modernity.
It isn't so grand, it isn't so radical, it isn't so sexy but we have to keep going that's the solution. Just keep moving, keep going forward. It is going to be alright, you are going to make it, just keep going. Don't look back for more than a moment. Accept the moment, the situation of where you are, you are there for a reason, and keep going. I think there is a noble strength in this. I read once somewhere an argument about the difference between Russian civilization and Western European civilization. They wrote about the difficult and weakness that plagues Western European civilization. This weakness is that it's confidence and assurance comes from it's abundance. From it's great art, from the fine things, ultimately. The strength of Russian civilization is that it's strength comes from a feeling of being besieged, under attack and being oppressed by the West. It's interesting. I think there is truth to it. Obviously American civilization in the modern era shares this same feeling that Western Europe as a civilization possesses, under this theory. In the beginning of the settlement here I wouldn't say the feeling was the same, nor would I say this feeling was the same into the 19th and even beginning of the 20th centuries, I also wouldn't say that for the average European it is the same either. But today, in some strains found in America and Europe (and also Russia) there is a thread, a population, a group and a spirit which derives it's strength in understanding itself as better off. It is not the same as the general Russian civilization feeling - the strength derived from difficulty.
This doesn't have to only apply to different peoples, different civilizations. I think we can understand this same difference between different individuals and even between ourselves. We are different people on different days, in different periods. Sometimes we feel this way, sometimes we feel that way. Sometimes certain feelings come naturally to us, other times they come less naturally. We are humans, not machines. I think that rather than running from a struggle and a difficulty full of purpose and seeking solace in the better-off - the way of "noble human normality" is a better thought process for most. It was a very middle class thing at one time. It was a very American thing at one time. It is a very human thing.
I think the acceptance and embrace of that which life throws at us, the ups, the downs, the good, the bad, the struggles, the triumphs is a meaningful, healthy, warm thing. I think accepting our story is a much more true and authentic embracing of life, of story. No one wants to read a story with a straight path of ease. That is a boring story, the characters probably learned nothing, and the reader probably zoned out. It is vapid and pointless. Our lives are our story. God teaches us, and others through the story we are destined to live.
Just keep moving, keep moving forward. That's what I think. The pages in our lives, they turn and disappear. We don't go back. We turn a new page and we are never to return. Some chapters are good, some are rough. The pages come and go, but they are part of one story. Our style, the way which we dress, it is our story as well. Just as we keep going in life, we keep moving, keep the constant through it all - the same is true of the style we love. We see different places, see new things, go through different phases and take different detours, nevertheless the story is the same, it is ours. It is one story, there is a constant. There is something for us to hold onto.
I am looking out the window and watching the large light snowflakes dancing in the air, pushed about by the wind. I am listening to Re - Nils Frahm from the album Screws. I used to listen to this album every single morning when I woke up. I would make coffee, put this album on, and slowly push the sleep from my head, wake to the morning and begin responding to work messages. I would do this no matter where I was in the world. France, Israel, Spain, Italy, America. My wife and I, years ago used to spend the first hour or 2 of the morning saying nothing to each other. Total quiet in terms of spoken word. This album was part of my routine during those years. Sitting here, watching the snow dance in the air, writing about this heavy serious topic, I am transported back in time to a different time. I am a different man now, I am a different person today, yet I am the same. My story remains mine. Living in the memory of then for just a moment I remember how things were simpler. Not simpler just because I didn't have children or anything like that. Simpler, because the world was just a bit simpler. It wasn't so long ago, yet it was different. The world moves on. The present comes and leaves us and the future arrives. We can hold onto our memories, we must hold onto our memories, but we cannot go back. We must always keep going. We will keep going whether we want to or not. Our story continues, in good and bad, struggle and ease, beauty and trouble.