Don’t Call Me Lucky

The other evening my family were talking about the concept of luck. We were discussing my sister’s car accident that happened a few months ago, and my Mum was talking about how lucky my sister was to come away with only the relatively minor injuries that she sustained. 

I told them that I don’t believe it luck. Yes I am extremely grateful that my sister wasn’t more hurt in the accident. But I don’t put that down to “luck”. I believe in probability and coincidence. I believe in cause and effect. I am aware of the concept of privilege. But luck doesn’t come into any of that. 

Luck insinuates that neither we nor others can alter our circumstances for the better (or worse). It suggests that certain people get dealt bad cards by the universe for no reason other than because they are “unlucky”, even if a change in circumstances could have led to a very different outcome. 

It puts the responsibility onto the person who is either “lucky” or “unlucky”, when actually sometimes things happen because that is what all the events leading up to it determined would. Everything has a cause, nothing happens in a vacuum. People who have suffered multiple traumas haven’t suffered because they are “unlucky” as though it is some innate trait they possess, but because the world can be a very adverse place full of harmful people and circumstances.

Similarly, I don’t believe that my sister survived the car crash because she was lucky; she survived the car crash because a number of events came together that resulted in her surviving. Regardless of whether it could have been worse or better or different in any way, the distress and trauma she experienced as a result had a profound effect on her. Thats her reality, her truth, and what she has been left to deal with as a result.

One family member particularly disagreed and didn’t like what I was saying. Fair enough, we all have a right to our own opinion – and I can respect that. But then, unfortunately, the conversation took a horrible turn. They started arguing that if someone is sexually assaulted, but not raped, for example, then they should consider themselves “lucky”. Similarly, if someone is expecting twins, and one of the babies dies during childbirth, the mother is still “lucky” that at least one survived. 

This infuriated me!! Someone who experiences such a traumatising event should never be considered lucky nor forced to consider themselves as such! Calling a victim or a survivor lucky because it wasn’t “objectively worse” is exactly why I cannot stand the concept and use of the word “luck”. Neither of these situations should be associated with the word luck, ever!

Doing so completely invalidates the person’s experiences. It dismisses their distress and their pain and all the very real negative consequences of what they have been through. It puts the blame and responsibility onto the victim and what their response *should* be, instead of on the perpetrator or other external causes. 

“You’re lucky it wasn’t worse” is one of the most damaging things a survivor can be told. 

Guess what? There will always be someone who has it worse. Does that make everyone lucky it wasn’t worse for them, apart from the single person who’s at the top of the leaderboard? Fuck no! 

In my opinion, attributing an outcome to luck doesn’t add anything to the world. The concept of luck doesn’t need to exist for the world to keep spinning and people to keep smiling, crying, breathing and dying. We can be grateful and appreciative for what we have and we can be aware of our relevant privileges. That doesn’t mean we have to attribute all of that to luck. At the same time, we are allowed to feel pain as a consequence of the things we have been through. And we are allowed to do so without having to deny those experiences because we are “lucky they were not any worse”.

Good things happen to people. Bad things happen to people. Such is life. But please don’t tell people they’re lucky because you can’t accept their reality for what it is. 

The Mundanity of Being Human

To put this post into context, refer to yesterday’s post, here.

I have been thinking off the back of some existential angst and confusion about life and how I am this week. I realise now that the struggle is not in being stable when that stability contains joy; the problem arises when I am stable but stable within a state of neutrality and standstill. 

It is not that I am not okay with being happy as my therapist suggested; I do not struggle particularly with feelings of guilt when I am actually living in a moment of joy as I know some people do. In fact when I experience joy, I find that I am now able to fully experience it – and that is indeed a beautiful thing. So happiness in itself isn’t the problem…

The problem is neutrality – being in the state of not knowing exactly how I am. I find it impossible to know and connect with myself and the world when in this state. In this “in-between”, it feels unsettling as I do not know where I stand with regards to my self. Usually my emotions are so much more intense and therefore impossible to ignore. Life in the neutral lane is just so… empty.

I can’t stand the neutrality because it makes me feel aimless and lost. I am a very all or nothing person and I guess I struggle with anything less than intense (even though a less intense inner life is something I yearn for when distressed!). Overall, I need to KNOW for certain what it is I am feeling, in order to connect – no matter which direction that feeling is in. It’s like I only know what is it I am experiencing, and who I am in relation to myself and the world, if it is at such an intense level. Low-levels of anything displease me and make me feel shifty and on edge. 

So if I am happy, that is great and I can revel in it. If I am distressed, it is fucking painful, but at least it is tangible and I am aware of myself and feeling alive within that pain. The in between, however, that is what I struggle with. The limbo, the not knowing, the disconnection from anything extreme; the boringness, the intangibility, the not-knowing-what’s-to-come. That is the most unsettling place to find myself in. The mundanity of being a human – I think that’s what it is.

I’m content when I’m stuck at one end or the other, but put me in the middle and I become lost and uncomfortable. If I can perpetuate the happy, I will be fine. But it’s the unknown and unpredictability of the neutral state that has the potential to tip me back into distress, I think, just so that I can feel some sort of connection again.

I’ve got to find, create and perpetuate the happy – and eliminate the mundanity – so that I can remain stable.

The Paradox of Pain

I have been okay. I have been stable and okay for a week. Overall it has been pretty neutral, and for me, neutrality is a rather miraculous thing. 

Overall, I am trying to take these moments of okayness one second at a time and not overthink them, despite how unfamiliar and disconcerting it may feel.

But it is hard, because amidst the relative stability, I feel like I am lacking something. I feel like something is missing from my life. I feel like I can’t quite connect to it, or with myself, on a real and meaningful level. I feel like a spectator, watching, waiting, sitting bored at the sidelines.

I feel like maybe a part of me needs the pain in order to be able to connect? Like it’s the only way I know how to feel real and alive and full?

The ‘Borderline pain’ as I call it is such a catch 22: Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

An Existential Stream of Consciousness

An unedited, uncensored, rambling stream of consciousness, based on the concept of a ‘dual reality’, which we discussed today at university:

“As humans, we are the only animals to exist in a somewhat dual reality. There is an objective reality out there, which includes food, nature, animals, breeding, evolution and survival. And there is a fictional reality – the one which we have created for ourselves – which comprises technology, education, economics, politics and so many other abstract concepts.

How profound is that in this fictional reality, we assign so much value to constructs that don’t even exist objectively? We attribute so much meaning to pieces of paper and gold coins which have become pivotal to life in this day and age. We have become suffocated by rules and ways of life – go to school, get a job, make money, vote – rules that dictate what you can do and what you can’t. Rules that tell us how to live a life that we have little say over in the first place.

If you don’t follow one rule, another rule is in place to punish. If you try and break free from the confines of modern day society, many of the consequences are poverty, ostracism and disdain. In order to survive in this world, we are forced to become part of this fictional reality. We become so enmneshed with it and so part of it that we no longer realise how very fictional it is. We live our lives in the fantasy world of seeking, striving and greed. Everything we do we do with the intention of an outcome. And we keep striving until we die.

We die before we have really lived. We die still a participant of the fictional reality we have spent our lives trapped in. We die having missed out of the experiences we take for granted because we were too busy trying to survive in the fictional world by accumulating money, possessions, status. 

In the objective world, the future doesn’t need to exist. The objective world is about living in the moment. It is about what is really around us and what is real around us. It is about nature and breathing and animals and sex; it is about hunting and eating and running and laughing; it is about being one with nature, immersing ourselves within it instead of building machines for ourselves that separate us from it. 

The ironic thing is, as we build this fictional world up around us, objective reality becomes more fragile and further away. The deeper we get into this imaginal world we have created, the more the true world and everything in it suffers. The things that exist in objective reality (nature, animals, rainforests) become dependent on the human species’ fictional reality. The more we as humans consume, the more the rest of the natural world suffers.

Sometimes I question my existence – our existence – for these reasons. I feel like we are all robots living in a fake world of constructed predetermined norms. Nothing really exists except getting places, always getting places. We forget how to live. We don’t look up any more, our heads are always somewhere else, whether directed at a screen, or fantasising about more imaginary concepts. 

We are so far from reality that we have no idea what reality even is any more. I want to break free from the confines of culture and societal norms, politics and policies, education and expectations, technology and economics. I want to go and live in a tribe in the rainforest, away from the built up world we have used and taken when it really was not ours to take. I want to be naked and free, I want to exchange love and experiences, not money nor possessions. I want to feel alive, a part of my own life, a part of the real objective reality of the world.

But the worst part in all this, is that despite thinking this way and knowing what I want on one level, I also know that nothing will change. I have been conditioned and moulded and I am part of the human culture and life force simply because I was born. And in order to survive – in the only way I know how to – I will continue on this path of studying and working, of living in a fictional reality, towards job seeking, money-making, money-saving, house-buying, mortgage-paying. I will continue turning up to a life that doesn’t really feel like my own, just because it has become about having a means to an end. I will study for a certificate that means nothing to me, I will work for money that means nothing to me, I will vote for causes and conflicts that only exist because of our own doing and the fictional reality we are a part of. I will continue using public transport, electricity and a mobile phone. I will not be free nor naked nor brave nor alone with my ultimate humanness, because I do not know how to be. I will do what I do and know what I know, as a 21st century modern society over-thinking human, so that I too can survive in this increasingly commercialised, competitive but non-sensical world. 

But that’s exactly what life has become, hasn’t it? Life isn’t about living any more. Life has become about surviving.”

Sometimes I Think I Was Born Onto the Wrong Planet

I don’t think I’m cut out for this existence. There are so many things I suck at, all because I’m too sensitive. I feel too much and it impacts every aspect of my life; even the menial day to day decisions and activities I attempt.

Everything feels so fake and unnatural and I don’t know where to place myself – I don’t know who I am. I’m not like other people, really. I feel older than my years in many ways and younger in many others. I’m half here but half not, because I don’t know how I quite can be, fully. Something is always missing. Something is always Not Quite Right.

The word ‘Borderline‘ feels quite fitting here.

Sometimes I think life on planet Earth is just too complicated for someone as complicated as me. If my brain was more simple I could deal with complexity in my external world: “Ignorance is bliss”, and all that. If the world was more straightforward perhaps I could manage my inner chaos more easily than I currently do. I’m too aware of my pain and I’m too aware of the world. I can feel things so intensely.

Put together the  way I feel, the way I think, and the way I experience life and relationships…. add that to the reality of the world I inhabit and the 21st century society I live in… and everything is just too much. I just don’t think the two are compatible.

I’m not even sad, just baffled. Possibly scared. Maybe slightly dissociated, or perhaps delirious with jet lag and tiredness. Anyway, I’ve got these lyrics playing over and over in my head – typical:

“But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo,
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.”
– Creep, Radiohead