I also published this story on Medium.com
Tomorrow I’m returning to my day job after being off on the sick, recovering from life-changing surgery, for the best part of four months. Before I left, I envisioned myself coming back to the grind as a better version of who I was before, but now it’s the eve of my return and I feel disconnected with who I was back then.
Who I Was Back Then was concerned with decorating her new flat with her partner, saving up the money for a Vespa Elettrica, and progressing in her career so she could lay a solid infrastructure for potentially adopting children in the future. Now, after a twelve week break in the cycle of work-eat-sleep-repeat, my perspective has shifted.
Being laid up on an IKEA corner sofa, eating codeine like Smarties, gawping at a 4k TV and scrolling through Twitter on a MacBook Pro, I’ve come to fully accept that material possessions don’t make me happy… The only things I actually care about are spending time with my partner, writing stories, and intermittently eating and drinking. I could happily let go of everything else, so long as those four staples were guaranteed.
If I’m being totally blunt, I’ve realised I don’t want to live in a consumerist world, and I don’t want to be reliant on a corrupt economic system. I want to feel free and live a life full of meaning and love instead of living a life of monotony and depression, struggling to cope, upping my antidepressants every time it feels like it’s getting a bit too much, just so I can step back in line with what’s expected of me as a mindless cog in the machine.
Complete chance has given me this limited time offer: a shot at existing in the universe, but it will only happen once, then I’ll go back to not existing, just like I did for millennia before I first started breathing at the end of the cold war. I’ve got to say, having only existed for a tiny portion of time compared to how long I didn’t exist, I’m pretty sold on this life thing. It was touch and go a couple times in my early adulthood, and I considered going back to the void, but now I’ve got my personal affairs in order, I’m determined to live a good life for as long as possible. The downside? Oh, it’s this little thing called HUMANITY’S IMMINENT EXISTENTIAL CRISIS.
How naive of me to have hoped that just because I’ve taken steps to counter my own issues- such as taking loads of Prozac to supposedly make my clinical depression bearable, and undergoing medical and surgical transition to oust my dysphoria- that my life would become full of joy and meaning, and there would be nothing to worry about, and the incessant stabbing pain in my head would fade away, and I wouldn’t be worried that me and my partner are potentially going to starve within the next three years.
If this is the first you’ve heard of this, or if you think I’m a wild conspiracy theorist, I urge you to do a little bit of research. The truth is quite shocking, and it might knock you sick when it starts to sink in, but we are on the precipice of complete societal collapse. The first I heard of it was when an optometrist I was working with started ranting about the Holocene extinction and how we were all going to die. Not long afterwards, that person was struck off, and I assumed they were just talking shit, but then last April, while I was on my back in hospital, Extinction Rebellion made a stir when they occupied roundabouts down South and caused a massive disruption to the traffic, to raise awareness of the impending climate emergency.
“This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action.” — Ban Ki-Moon, former UN Secretary General
World scientists have been warning us for decades about the melting icecaps, the rising sea temperatures, the extinctions of countless animal species across the globe… And we’re not prepared for what’s going to happen when all our hens come home to roost, and there’s only three days worth of food left in the supermarkets before the shelves and fridges are bear, and you’ve got to pay a shifty guy on the street corner £20 for a loaf of bread, then scarper back to your hidey-hole as quick as you can before you get raped or robbed by a rioter.
I’ve since heard Roger Hallam, founder of Extinction Rebellion, recite the figures and confirm everything that I’ve read, and it’s not good. In fact, it’s left me horror stricken. I can’t go back to how I was before; hopelessly drifting through life in a little bubble, living under the governments and corporations that are investing in and enabling the collapse of Humanity. “It’s up to us!” as the Sunday school children at our local church have recently declared.
So tomorrow I’m going back to my day job, because I don’t want to get evicted right before the shit hits the fan, and also because I like my boss and the people I work with, but I can’t go back to ignorance or denial, or trying to fit in to a society that really doesn’t care about me. At this moment in time, I don’t know exactly what my part is in all of this, but I am ready. The extinction is coming, and I don’t want to passively let it wash over me without doing everything I can to survive. Our future isn’t guaranteed. We need to take action, and the clock is ticking.