I can tell my life has made a significant switch this year since I’m not measuring it by how many widgets I’ve churned out. In my case, widgets have tended to be how many new artworks or designs and (increasingly) blogs I have put out, before that it was “what I earned”, in my old life, where I measured by “achievement”. Yet here I am, in almost May, and I notice how I now gauge the fulness of my cup by the intensity of my life. There is no other word for it…and no other objective. My days, via every moment, feeling, passing emotion, interaction, subtlest thought, thread-end, synchronicity, observation, realisation, sensation, wisp of inspiration, are lived intensely and far too variably, unquantifiably, to measure, there being no “rule” by which to take their length or breadth, yet I know it from the feel f it.
For me, a thinker, mostly a do-er, all my life, this is big and I know it, for all I have always been the synesthete, the receiver of almost too many sensations to process, yet there was always that over-ride button, that tried to make “things” of it rather than have the experience. I have been subject to so much intensity…bottled up. Yet its nothing new for our youth, who live their lives so like this, moment to moment, that they hardly know how to box it all up, when the clock strikes and they are told they have to join the narrow-guage rank and file of the working masses…nor should they. So they postpone, they rebel, they opt out, they break down…and, in them, I find my biggest hope for a future for this planet.
Talking to my daughter last night, at last, as she broke the shell of silence we had maintained for almost a week since she returned, not because she didn’t want to tell me anything but because she knew not how to (if only I could explain how much I do really get her more than she knows…but why would she trust this, coming from our generation) she tried to convey to me the intensity of her life experience since going to uni. Its a nonstop synesthesia explosion of such intense momentum, feelings, interactions, joyfulness, spontaneities, overwhelms, confusions, obliterations and also so so much depression, she says, in her generation…so much fear, and anger and hopelessness at the world our generation are handing on to them. There’s such a pervasive feeling of having no say in the sorting of the heinous mess we have made of the world, ongoing and ever more urgent, and them the voiceless millions, for all they rant and rail at the way things are going, at abysmal decisions being made by heart-dead bureaucrats, sending their planet, their futures, to hell in a hand basket. Brexit and the dying planet, she says, are almost memes…funny clichés, the stuff of bad jokes…in her world, not because they don’t care (they care with typical intensity) but because they have all the tragic rigmortis of next to no ability to make themselves heard in a broken system; no way to grab the wheel to redirect the vehicle before it crashes head-on into a brick wall with us all on board. They are becoming numb through this feeling of inertia; more so every day, as they expose themselves to such intensity of feeling that they keep on wanting more more more to stimulate themselves into feeling alive against all the odds of this gloom. Where once life flashed, say, a moment of purple in a sea of mundane grey, she says, it is now like an explosion of so many colours and lights and shapes, non-stop, and, in the midst of the rainbow-surprise of it all are, equally, the pitch darks that have no name…yet they dare to look into these equally, along with all the bright colours, while the “grown ups” seem to skirt around the edges, eyes firmly closed, fingers-crossed, wing and a prayer.
So though they campaign, sign, rebel, shout their views, as the very norms of their existence, they feel like they are banging their heads on a wall and, meanwhile, they plough on into all the chaos of deadline demands, all the unimaginable complexity of an age driven by social media relationships and genders with no boundaries, and towards the madly inevitable abyss of an adult world that was meant to fit their parents, one that is self-evidently “screwed”, and thus holds nothing whatsoever to appeal to them, even if it had a future. So what else can they do but continue to live intensely, fully in the moment, ever-present with the mad kalisdoscope of their days, whilst working intensely hard, dreaming of some future idyl, while their graduation waits like a cliff hanger at the end, and them not really sure if they still want to be alive at that point. Yet they continue to live life at breakneck speed until they get there, not knowing “what” or “how” or even “if” something awaits them there. Will we even have a planet by then is a very real consideration.
Yet one thing is for sure, they are living life intensely. Every moment, every social interaction, every deep-philosophical conversation, every midnight walk in pitch dark, every leap of faith into summer placements or travel in far-flung places they’ve never been to, is intense and the real intensity of it all is happening on the inside. While the outside interface may look random, chaotically childlike in its naivety, they are profoundly changing themselves, and a whole race, on the inside. In striving for what they really DO want by the sheer force and intensity of their gaze, the attention they throw serving as a dart at the bullseye of a better world that no logic can predict, they are changing themselves, both individually and collectively, becoming, almost, a telepathic Super Being filled with fresh, youthful intentions…a shot in the arm of new life…and we are being changed with them. Out there in “the field” something monumental is going on and it looks like Pardigm Shift, though it arrives in stealth shoes.
Our generation complacently thinks (though not I) that our young people will inevitably lose steam and volume, giving up on contrary intentions as we did, to slip quietly into rank and file to sign dotted lines for work contracts with corporations they once despised and for mortgages that will hold them prisoner for life, never to question anything again in the name of familial safety over all moral-else. Maybe some will do that, but not all…in fact, most, probably, very far from all will be even capable of trimming their wings back. Because intensity, like this, once experienced, cannot be put back into the box. Rules so completely disregarded, not even given lip-service, cannot be reinstated where they uttelry defy Higher (not constructed…) logic. The impulse to know joy and liberty, as the birth right that they are, cannot be forgotten once made the very priority for so long, in ways that we never had the experience of in our youth. Like an airbag gone off, we become vastly bigger than the receptacle we came from; things look quite different now, new colours are introducted to the rainbow, motivations change, priorities crystallise.
Meanwhile some of us older folk live to prove the flipped adage that even an old dog can learn new tricks…for I am one of those of those dogs, being and feeling and experiencing over thinking and doing and producing, hardly at-all measuring, making quantum leaps where a life of even two months ago is already outgrown, over and over again, which is the compounded shift of many ages amd lifetimes in one being, felt in the very core of my DNA. Being prepared to go where we know-not what the ending could possibly be is part of this paradigm change; we have no choice but to face the sheer impossibility of a future, measured by old standards, in order to hold space for something brand new to emerge (in fact this lack of a predictable ending is the very clue we are getting close). Faced with such a reality, we have no other option but to experience life intensely, moment to moment, navigating by its rapidly appearing and exploding stars scattered across a vast universe of sensations. It is never too late to do this, while there is still breath in our body, and the sheer intensity of “eleventh hour” can be harnessed to fuel such a quantum leap in our collective reality once we know how this feels within the very core of ourselves.