I wrote this while attending Uncivilisation a couple of weeks ago. It became clear to me that uncivilisation is an ongoing process, rather than a state of being. It’s a process of unlearning, removing complications and reversing out of evolutionary dead-ends. It’s about unticking boxes. It’s a process that I’ve been going through for about 10 years now and it’s entwined with other changes that I’ve chosen to make.
Once upon a time, I had a wife, a house, a job with a pension. The idea was that i would live with my wife who would meet my emotional needs, we would live together in a house that met my physical need for safety and shelter and it would all be paid for with money from my job for now and in the future by my pension. This is “normal”, “civilised” life. It’s what most people do. It works for lots of people. It worked for me for some time, but then it began to unravel.
I didn’t have to think about what I was doing at the time – it was what everyone else around me was doing, it was what I’d always thought was the best thing to do. And I believed that if I kept doing these things and acquiring more stuff and maintaining this structure, then it would all make me happy. If I wasn’t actually happy at the moment then perhaps I needed a better wife or a better home with more stuff or a better job with more money now and in the future.
On the whole I was not happy. I had periods or moments of happiness derived from getting something that I wanted, but it never lasted for long. I had two beautiful, mostly healthy, intelligent children. Being with them gave me haappiness when I got out of the way and focused on giving them something, feeding them, taking them out, playing with them, watching them learn. I thought they brought me pain when they didn’t do what I wanted and when their needs encroached on my time and resources.
Now, I don’t have a wife, I have no home and I have no job. I guess I still have my pension, but I am no longer contributing to the fund in the way that was expected. When I reach “retirement age” it will not fully support my financial needs unless they are significantly fewer and lower than they have been for many years.
I am consistently more happy than I have ever been. I’m experiencing a new form of freedom that comes from moving around. I’m just starting a relationship with a woman that requires far more emotional honesty and intimacy than I’ve been capable of before. I’m working a lot but not necessarily in ways that look like work as I’ve previously defined it. I’ve become illegible to some people.
When I meet people I worked with about 10 years ago, their reaction (once they recognise me) is “What happened? What the fuck happened to you?”
This is a very interesting question. What the fuck *did* happen to me?
More clues: In 2001 I weighed about 20 stone (280 lbs) and was drinking alcohol most days. My health was not good. I felt ill every weekend, I had chronic headaches and I knew that my knees and back were suffering from being overworked. I’m now 14 stone and haven’t had a drink since early 2002.
It’s also interesting to me that I’m much more comfortable focusing on the externals here, much less on what has been going on internally for me, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Although I do believe that the stuff on the inside was what made it all happen. I think it might be an interesting task to try to write about that a bit more.