I've been thinking about sacrifice a little… well, what you learn along the way and how the world smiles back at you when you compromise, especially when you don't expect something in return. It's a debt you create. You've deliberately given up (in the moment) what you had between your fingertips, in the hope of something? In hope of what? Let's have a look under the decapitated goat…
For me, I think relatively high level but act pretty local. These two worlds are at odds when I give myself away (my time), because the high level tells me what the greater good is, while the local feels the brunt of the pain. It's like a calling from the scripture that tells you to waste the meat of the animal whose muscle crew from the fields you sowed, while your family starves. It doesn't make sense and it most likely never will. Yet, people did it and still do today, in varying ways.
Maybe for you, it was to stay up and pack your lunch for the next day, instead of getting the rest you know you need. A small sacrifice perhaps. Or could it be saving some money for your retirement when you are young and fit (when you should be enjoying the fruits of your labour before it's too late)?
There is also a kind of sacrifice that goes against every component of your being. The kind that wants to make you bite the head off a snake and spit it into your enemy's eye – in the hope that the poison kills you both. HOWEVER, you take on the aggression and suffering you feel, the yearning to have an outburst, and put the lid on the violent lobster sprawling out of the boiling pot of water you've put on. And sit cross-legged while the boiling hot tea you've ingested burns your tongue. You've gone against what it means to be human.
Well, what does that mean exactly and where does it lead us? Denying your impulsiveness when faced with a choice to easily escape… It's as if my environment benefits from my choice to give something up. That the reward will never be experienced by me but will benefit something, someone. I've had some reaffirming things happen to me over the years when I've pursued this higher calling…
I remember being really stretched and feeling like I was at breaking point. I was relatively young, maybe 15. I woke up one day, got ready for school and walked to the station. I got to the platform and remembered (somehow) that I needed to buy a ticket – I really wasn't doing too well. I fumbled around in my pocket and found some change… Coin by coin I loaded the ticket machine until I got to my final 5-cent piece. But I fell short. So as the machine does, it spat out the remnants of my attempt. I put my hand in the coin holder and pulled out my change. Unbeknown to me initially, I pulled out more than I'd put in. I counted the change because something felt a little off, call it an intuition. And sure enough, someone had left enough money in the change collector for me to buy my ticket. I thought, "What luck!"
Looking back, I think one of the coins probably failed to register with the machine or something and in fact, I did have enough money… But nonetheless, it felt like an incredibly lucky break at the time. "Zzzz…. ZZZzzzz… Zzzzzz, why's this cunt going on about coins?" Well, that's what I'm talking about (clearly), I felt like I was carrying the burden of the world and a couple uncounted coins almost brought me to my knees. But it would have been meaningless if I'd never tried to push myself and give away part or most of what I found soothing. I was incredibly uncomfortable in my suffering.
It was like having a thumb tack in between the hemispheres of my brain. On one side is what I wanted and what made me happy and carefree. On the other, sacrifice and a higher calling. And me, in the middle. It didn't feel like I had a choice though… the more I sacrificed and the more I increased my awareness and understanding of others, the more I felt and broader my experience in general.
It was the pain of trying to be more, of letting go of what I thought I needed each day, the sacrifice of my ignorance to the pain and unanswered calls for help from all of those that surrounded me. I know now, looking back, that it was like an inflection. That what I had come to notice by happenstance was always there, below the surface. But perhaps sacrifice is more of an attempt to peer into that charred side of the two-sided coin. To go against the grain and chose to momentarily embrace suffering, to commit to losing what you thought you cared about, to become more aware.
Well, what's the other option? You never sacrifice anything; you coast through life and find relationships that neither weather the storm between continents nor brings you enjoyable sunsets on the horizon. You're stuck, waking up at 11:45am on a Thursday. Turning away from responsibility. Shuffling your way to your aged and pathetic espresso pot. Stuck in pyjamas at a white-collar event. Monday becoming Friday. Saturday becoming Wednesday. Lost. Looking over the fence to only find a kid kicking a ball to himself. Pacing back and forth, and finally picking up the ball in disappointment.
Sacrifice brings depth to my life. It increases the spectrum of emotions I feel. Particularly it extends the fringes. I can feel it when I'm stuck, I get tunnel vision and too is my experience constrained. The days pass by with next to no modulation. It's steady and deafeningly predictable. And then something strange happens, I become anxious and a little depressed. I shy away from challenges and delay facing menial tasks for as long as possible. I curl up under the sheets and feel the softness of the blanket corrode my previously hard exterior. I recognise what's happening eventually and usually, I snap out of it because to put it simply, I notice I've stopped living.
Don't get me wrong, I think we all need to lie around and be a sloppy fat cunt for a bit. But it gets to a point when you notice the indentation of your body on your mattress from the previous night and think, 'How long have I been awake?' Well not long enough to let your mattress breathe. That you act, and it makes me wonder… at a bare minimum are we sacrificing being lazy? Is that the definition of productivity? Letting go of that comfortable soft feeling and doing something that requires some level of exertion, doing something that isn't easy – unlike picking something mind-numbing to watch.
Once I start (sacrificing), I build momentum quickly and I actively choose to sacrifice more. Oddly, it feels like I'm answering my true calling. But true callings are not easy, far from it – they're what tests your resolve the most. The further I go down this path, I feel less like me (an individual) and more as though I'm part of something bigger. However, it's almost sickening when it gets to its extreme. It feels like I'm holding my breath underwater, there's a strange peace and silence but you know you're on death's doorstep…
So why is there 'nothing but death and destruction'? Well, it's emotive but perhaps oddly out of place given what you've read so far. The thing is, there are people that don't believe in anything, yet think we're on a crash course with the very title of this blog post. That consumption and exponential growth will ultimately unhinge society and bring it to its knees. That we will become extinct, most likely by our own hands. And yet they continue on, complaining as they do…
I think what complainers are really getting at is that they feel out of place. They're missing something in their recipe. Their view is limited. They think what little is there's will be taken away. 'So fuck the whole system' kind of thing. And yet the antidote to their temper tantrum is to give it away, especially that which they think they value most. Sacrifice is the key to the door of meaning and brings with it a depth of experience. However, the more you commit to your future and take away from the now, the more you answer the higher calling, the more you feel less like yourself, the greater the scope of what you see and feel and ultimately the more you grow. For to have deep roots, you must stand defiantly in the storm and be prepared to regrow from the stump that is left after it passes.
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