62 Comments

I’m 47. Never found my place. Never will. I exist on the fringes of this society because I have never related to its goals and values. The primary function of a human being is to be. That’s it. Being within consciousness. All else is killing time. Be kind, be gentle, walk softly upon the earth and admire its beauty. That’s all you ever need do.

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If we all lived authentically, there would be no fringe. You are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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Love this!

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"Bek kind, be gentle, walk softly upon the earth and admire its beauty." You bring much-needed, cleansing tears of hope to me this morning with these words. Thank you, friend.

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You're already perfect Heidi. Keep on keeping on fellow human.

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Dear Charles,

Thankyou. My youngest child, 30 year old son Dane, has recently started taking an interest in ‘men’s work’ after a tumultuous 20’s heralded with him finding his 27 year old brother Blair, my second eldest, dead by hanging…. Dane asked my boyfriend last night for 3 words he would say to his 18 year old self. I’d be very interested in any feedback from the forum here in particular males.

Speaking to the intelligence of our younger generations I’ll never forget Blair lying on the floor circa age 13, whilst doing his maths homework and turning to me frustratedly at some point asking “What are we doing this for anyway?” I proceeded to answer giving examples of how maths is actually a set of quite practical skills blah blah… when he interrupted me saying “No Mum, not maths, I’m talking about life, why are we doing this?” He was very angry about the whole situation. Blair persisted another 13 or so years, trying his best to ‘fit in’ to our demanding societal expectations, but constantly struggled with the inability to be comfortable doing so.

The plight of the young appears very sad on the whole, yet there are rays of sunshine breaking onto many of them and so I also feel greatly heartened by what I see and feel in this undercurrent of awareness as it sweeps many up in its path forging our new world.

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I can share that I find myself stuck in this same place of not knowing where my place is despite a deep-felt sense of purpose and a desire to contribute. I'm 27 and I know many people around my same age who feel the same. Thank you for giving voice to this and for sharing your perspective as a parent. It helps me to know that this is a phenomenon beyond my own circle and experience - it gives me hope that as we come more fully into ourselves, our hopes and fears and dreams and visions, and come together lovingly holding all of them, then new stories will emerge from the roots of many people envisioning and enlivening them.

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I've been telling my daughter that she may have to walk in two worlds for the foreseeable future.

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That was me almost 30 years ago. Except I didn’t have a parents basement to hide in for awhile while I figured things out. In fact I had no wise elders around me at all. But I went to college on my own will and student loans. Yet while I was there I could not see my self in any of the pathways offered. The systems seemed soul crushing and I went into a despair as I didn’t know what to do. I ended up leaving the state school I was in, applying to a small private liberal school where I accrued large student debt and write my own major in Ethnomusicology from the Anthropological perspective because it didn’t exist. My focus was the use of sacred music in indigenous cultures and impact on the whole and the individual. My theory was that our culture did not seem happy, but when I looked out into the world, I saw that a few cultures appeared inherently happy. And I guess I believed that their musical/ spiritual relationship with life and earth was at the heart of that. But when I finished college, college itself did not help me at all with next steps, my counselor, I found out years later, was fired for abuse of his position. Long story there. But for me, without guidance, and this deep longing in my heart to step off the wheel of what to me looked like a half life, and seek true aliveness, I became a nomad. I left what there was of family behind, comfort, home, familiar, stability, to seek a different way of living. Given the choices available to me at that time, I can’t see any better choice for me. But it was very hard. And I wouldn’t wish this version for others. During that time I envisioned a center being created for people like me. I kept wishing I had “a place to fall apart in” I needed time to fall apart, grieve what I thought might have been but wasn’t. To heal my family wounds so whatever my new choices would be wouldn’t come from that. For me it was extremely collective and personal at the same time. It was big. And I needed wise help that I didn’t have. But i I did it anyway. It took a long time. During college and before I didn’t cry for ten years. And when I started crying I couldn’t stop. For almost 2 years straight. I needed that. Now I have a healthy relationship with feeling. To feel my true deep joy I must also feel my pain. But then, big healing, big long periods of tears. I could never healed this part of myself while in a corporate job. And grief and healing take the time they do. But I have no doubt in my mind it would have gone smoother with more support. So I guess this is a plea. To parents or elders who are in a position to help their children jump off the wheel of the current culture, I’d that is what they are inclined to do. Help them do it. Give them a safe space to unwind in their own way and find a different cultural pulse, center to live their lives from. It’s here. We are creating it now.

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For those who are nearly frozen with a lifetime of trauma from being different from birth, rejection and misdiagnosis for a lifetime after that, my props and intense prayers that stregths and all types of life affirming connections may be born among these sharings and permeate the darkness until it becomes friendly ally.

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When my step daughter was 7, she was teasing her younger sister. "Don't do that please darling" I said, "you'll make me angry in a minute".

"Dad" she replied, "nobody can make you angry, you just allow yourself to get angry".

Of course she was correct, and that awareness is certainly part of the evolution of human consciousness, but just as important is the fact that our generation has learned to treat our children like fully formed humans, to not talk down to them, to give them permission to be themselves, to offer them unconditional love, and to reason rather than hit. Basically to treat our children with all the respect we expect to others.

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Thanks again Charles, your sanity and insight are a real balm. I can resonate with what you say about this next generation and appreciate seeing it expressed in a way that helps me make sense of things, gives me a confidence in a world I can't make sense of. My own two children - 19 and 21 yrs old and their friends are very much in the place you describe. I'm in awe of their wisdom and awareness ❤

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My children are also 21 and 19. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment and place.

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Hi Charles and Philip, thank you both for sharing. All pertinent points! My own daughter is a little younger and had ‘early onset’ crisis awareness at 9 years old, and went through quite a profound fear and confusion period. She is now out of it and has now fully immersed herself with drawing beautiful dragons and reading fantasy books. She is only 12 after all. During that time of worry she hosted a podcast and interviewed some beautiful people! (We we’re too nervous to ask you!) Here is the link if you ever fancy a listen. The kids’ climate podcast. It did her wonders to speak to grown ups who were really immersed in care and love for midwifing what was to come, labour terrors and all.

As a parent, I witness her at peace, as she worries more about school friends and the length of her hair than the collapse of the west. At the same time we as parents are on a permaculture trajectory of druidry, earth wisdom and connecting to the land. We hope she feels nourished. But hey, this can’t be a complete buffer for what is to come and we all know it.

I am so glad that she has these interviews to listen to again one day and to share with other young people, perhaps younger than Philip but he’s most welcome to listen.

She is hopeful, as well as pragmatic enough to know that the length of her hair really matters! She’s got an undercut as well as long flowing locks. It is mythologically significant to her sense of belonging and identity. Does she expose the undercut? Does she let it grow out? Should she just keep it there in perpetuity? What does it all mean?

It’s I think far more significant than she realises. To me it is, anyway. Samsonian.

With many blessings to you all,

Harriet

https://open.spotify.com/show/5aZYZ9gXI73FIg1iRTLSRc

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Great to hear how your children are faring. I remember meeting them when they were so young and our children were already on a path so different from their predecessors. My youngest is now 24 and it’s been at times challenging but also interesting to watch her. She has strong ideals and her determination and belief in what is possible gives me hope. I also see that clarity, emotional intelligence and, I would add a level of self awareness that I am still working on. I think that we can do a lot to support them by encouraging them to trust their inner voice, to quiet those external influencers and follow their beautiful hearts.

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Charles, I really like your writing and I share your concerns. I'm 74 and teaching drawing on zoom to mostly older adults. I wrote the book, Drawing as a Sacred Activity and really see the challenges of today as a WAKE-UP CALL for all of us - that we can and must draw out our unique CREATIVITY. I am new in Madison moving here just before the COVID. I hope to meet young people like Phillip. All the best to you!

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"Youthful Idealism is the truth. The world can be far, far better than what society has accepted as normal. The young see a possibility that older people may have forgotten"

This is so true and reminded me of these words:

https://youtu.be/w0653vsLSqE?t=4869

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Wow! Seems you have your hands full? 3 boys playing video games in the basement, and not learning some kind of skill, but some snappy words to impress dad?

Not busting your balls here, [or maybe i am?] Lets just say, I'm playing the devils advocate?

Okay.

There is no better future than one that gives pleasure from something done with ones hands that required sweat, and sometimes a little "letting" of blood. ie; hammer meets nail. The "finger kind" from actually building something], to growing a garden that requires a lot of sweat, not to mention, a very important lesson of seeing where food comes from, with, of course, the benefits of healthier food on ones table.

25 year old still at home? Labor on construction sites are always needing new blood. Laboring a while leads to learning how to do something with ones hands, which in turn can evolve into a trade.

Lots of trades out there in need of skilled tradesman.

"Philip’s anxiety wasn’t about how he is going to make a living. It was about whether there will be a future worthy of living in." Damn! that's almost on the brink of nihilism! Plugged into the grid, here again, ie; video games in dads basement, hours on smart phones walking into telephone poles, days on end surfing the internet, will lend itself to such a mindset.

Unplug your boy's toys. You know, maybe take the lawn mower and while mowing, throw some of those video games under it?

I don't know if sharing videos or pictures are allowed here, but this video came to mind reading your post; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EglOsfErtaE

The video is of a dad mowing his sons video games. Looks to be in his early 20's? viewed 48 million times!

But, back to "will there be a future worthy of living in?" Yes. but, it takes doing something, not complaining about it. Who in the future will keep the electricity going for future sons video games in dads basement? Who grows the food they'll eat 3 times a day? Who will build the homes they'll live in with basements for their sons to idle away in? Nihilism comes from doing nothing all day, but playing games and not actually accomplishing any real thing in life.

Good luck! Sounds like you'll need some, maybe a lot?

In all seriousness, I liked your post the other day about deplorables and vaccines. It got me to sign up to your blog post.

Okay, devils advocate aside. The comment above ^^^ comes across as crass, mean, judgmental even. I don't know you, or your boys? The "devils" comment is one many deplorables have grown up under. Did it scar us? If so, how? Do we have electricity and buildings, with heat&air conditioning? Yes, we do. Food miraculously finds its way to our tables too, doesn't it?

Walk out any tall building in any city, in any country and stop. Look up. Look all around, and down. What will you see? Everything done by man! Even the "looking down" to the pavement put there by men, often covers great caverns of bored holes filled with pipes and cables going every which way, but loose? [pun i think?] all making our lives better [in most cases]

Anyway. as a 66 year old builder, farmer, heavy equipment operator, certainly a deplorable by todays standards, [to name a few] here is what you could say to all of your boys, to maybe get the darkness of nihilism out of their bones; Share my last paragraph with them.

Boys to men they'll become.

Some bodies got to do it Pop.

All the best.

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My daughter goes to public school in the Chicago suburbs, which are considered top-tier schools in the nation. But does this attract families who want their kids to get a solid, well-rounded education? Not in my experience. These schools are the training ground for the next generation's managerial clerisy. In first grade, my daughter's school had a progtam they ran called "The Leader In Me:" a school-wide curriculum to train the "next leaders" of our society. They had songs, rallies in the gym and 7 leadership principles they were encouraged to follow. This kind of early indoctrination honestly frightens me.

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Completely agree

Schools mostly teach compliance and memorization while purporting to value creativity

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Yes, the future lies in the capacity of our youth! And, I am blown away, so many the times, when my boys 28 & 33 drop a few hours of their emotionally intelligent capacity! And I think, how did they get there so young.. so correct Charles, from my experience, our generation had to do some deep struggling to get where we are. I have deep faith in our youth. Thanks

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While I do not have any children I suspect that without your struggle and my struggle to untangle our difficulties/traumas/hangups there would be no space into which young people would be able to step... to grow and diversify the forest of life from the soil we have nurtured and the seedlings we have planted.

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I thank you for your wise timely words. Sometimes if you let it, the universe will guide you in the right direction. Just yesterday I ended up following a link which led me to an incredible interview, which kind of links into your essay.

https://www.juliusruechel.com/2021/07/the-emperor-has-no-clothes-finding.html?m=1

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Yes, yes, yes. Your words about new masculinity are perfect. I have two sons 20 & 23 here in Aotearoa, I learn so much from them about how to be a good human. I know so much I don’t want them to know. Thank you for your mahi Charles, you are a wordsmith and a true agent for change. Kia kaha.

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