I write loosely, referring to love and community and food systems and social equality, in the same breath, the same sentence. These words are sparked by a recent succession of responses from people in my life saying (or saying silently) – “…but it will be hard.”
‘It’ implying a life choice — be it a romantic partner, a career move, a hobby, a passion, a conviction and commitment to something big and complicated and seemingly impossible.
And of course, these people are more than accurate in their diagnosis, ‘it’ will certainly be difficult, uncomfortable, frustrating, tiresome — and so forth. But in all honesty, the diagnosis pricks like a needle, deflating my heart that sags like a lonely, used and discarded balloon.
Why the negative perception towards ‘hard’ and ‘difficult’ — does it suggest that we should choose, instead, the ‘easy?’ Does the act of choosing what’s easier, or what’s more convenient, more familiar, reap more happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind?
Does ‘doing what’s easy’ usher more balance into our lives?
And whoever said that ‘life should be easy?’
I can only write for myself, of course, but I seriously wonder what the culture of convenience — however you want to define convenience in ‘developed’ places — has done to our sense of connection to our localities and our relationships and responsibility to our human and plant and animal counterparts.
In these developed and convenient places, people are hungry for something they can’t place their fingers on. They want to buy a ‘solution’, be paid to work for a ‘solution’ and benefit individually from being a part of a ‘solution’ which erases any understanding, or acceptance of responsibility, in the truest sense. And the irony, of course, is that easy solutions are short-term at best and make their creators rich and famous.
In a culture of convenience and easy choices, hands become idle, hearts wander into projects with full passion and abandon, casting sails to the wind.
Convenient culture is also throw-away culture.
The culture of convenience has taught us, wrongly, that relaxing by a beachside brings deserved tranquility, that ‘peace’ is a setting sun, or ‘letting go’ is by a lakeshore. But peace isn’t about surrendering ourselves to expensive vacations.
Peace is about making work. Peace is hard, difficult, emotional and messy. It’s sort of like making compost, actually. You have to reorganize what remains of our human waste, the scraps, the undesirables, the literal shit of our existence. You work with another version of reality in mind, you recognize that vision and hard work can transform what’s been thrown away mindlessly, even violently.
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it’s complicated work, or an unconventional life choice that requires extra steps, extra manoeuvring, extra time commitment.
But hard, in my humble opinion, is actually better. Struggle, any kind, conflict, difficulty – these are the conditions that make us understand ourselves in relation to others — to other humans and other living beings with whom we can’t, truly, live without. They bind us to something that cannot be purchased, or experienced by a pleasant beachside.
In a culture of convenience, in our developed places, we mustn’t forget to teach our children that peace is a result of living not only for one’s self, but for others. We must teach them about the responsibility of being human and the possibility of transforming waste into sustenance — for their individual and collective sustenance.
Embracing what we don’t want to face, what ‘waste’ we are hiding from, I’m certain, can help change things.