I frequently find myself drifting in a river. I move where the river wants me to move. The current swells besides me during particularly uneven terrain, and the surrounding landscape changes around me as I further progress down the river towards a waterfall that will eventually be the death of me.
I can hear the bubbling of the cascade and the frothing on the impact. It is there. I cannot arc my head forwards to look at it because of some instinct in myself to keep myself afloat at all costs, but I am aware of the existence of the waterfall. Sooner or later, I will find myself drifting in the same river, except at a time when the easygoing passage that I have taken as a source of comfort for all my life will cause my death. That is the end, and by refusing to look up, I force myself in a situation wher I do not know enough about the end to perceive its distance to me but do know enough to know that is there waiting for me to fall into its grasp.
Along the river, I take all sorts of measures to try to keep myself from falling into its mouth. I cling onto objects around me, hoping that I can slow my fall along the way. Or, at the very least, to convince myself that I am doing something to keep myself occupied as I wait. Literature, music, friendship — they are all meaningless, but they allow me to believe that I am filling my life with some sort of purpose before I am swallowed by the void. Or, as of late, my career prospects.
I have two friends who are rocks. When I reach to cling onto them, there is an actual connection that is formed. It is a connection that challenges the will of the river and my spatial relationship to the flow of water. By holding onto them, I can temporarily liberate myself from the flow of the river into a motionless stasis. There, I would attempt to hold on for as long as I can. The rest of the people in my life are pieces of driftwood. They happen to approach close enough where I am able to cling onto them for a little bit. The connection is not real, but it is satisfactory enough to convince myself that there was something of substance… for a second. Before long, the driftwood, like me, is once again determined by the will of the river, and the will of the river dictates that driftwood cannot stay near me forever.
For the last couple of years in my life, I have always thought the source of my alienation was that I did not have enough rocks in my life. I wanted to add another rock to my rock collection. But I ran into two realizations on my quest to do so: the first is that it is impossible to increase the number of rocks in your life after a certain age, and the other is that increasing the number of rocks in my life will not do anything for my feelings of alienation.
Similar to the creation of apps to address income inequality, my clinging to rocks and driftwood only alleviates the pains of loneliness and does nothing to challenge the system in which I find myself condemned to experience the same repetition of alienation I have felt all my life. And, like the majority of people including myself, I tend not to conceptualize the world relative to oppressive systems, instead focusing more on the lifestyle changes I can make to navigate a system that cannot be changed. For so long, I have navigated the world through thinking that I could genuinely change the flow of the river if I found enough rocks to cling onto or enough pieces of driftwood to create a dam. But I cannot.
I cannot “power pose” a river away.
I find it very human to refuse to see the truth. It is human to be irrational (or is this even irrational?) While the truth had been available to me all my life, I turned it down because it would shatter the illusion that had constructed my entire life around. And, being human, I do not like change, especially one that would leave me significantly more unhappy than I had been previous. It has never been that I did not know and now I know. I have always known it was there, but the truth was so frightening that I constructed another lens to see the world so I did not have to look at the unfiltered truth. Even now, I can only look at the truth with tears in my eyes, another layer of distortion so I could see something more real than whatever I had created before.
I have stopped looking for rocks along the ride to the waterfall. I have not yet replaced this lifestyle of mine with an alternative. At least, not yet. I’m sure that my abilities to rationalize irrationality will kick in some time soon. But, until then, there is no point in searching for more rocks. It is the same river with the same end, and regardless of how I live while I am drifting in the river, I, along with all that represents I, is subject to the flow of the river, however it wishes to contort and compel me. Until I discover how to alter the flow of the river, I see very little points in adding more rocks to my collection. I have seen, and accepted, that I am drifting along the river. And, now that I have seen it, I cannot unsee it.
Besides, I only have two hands for two rocks.