Most of us, whether we’ve experienced it directly or not, are familiar with the idea of a comedown. A comedown is what happens when a drug, usually a stimulant, begins the long, painful process of withdrawing from your system. As the euphoria of the high begins to wane and the anxiety washes in, you suddenly start to feel dizzy and disoriented. The drug, previously situated between you and reality, is wearing off and, as it goes, you’re left to navigate the void created by its absence. That means going through the process of reconnecting to yourself, to your body’s natural rhythms and your mind’s natural pace. And when it’s finally over, you’re left feeling listless, lifeless and blank … the soaring high replaced by a crushing melancholy.
That’s how I feel every year after Christmas.
photo: charlie engman
Once the cheer I’ve been mainlining since the day after Thanksgiving dries up, I’m left with an emptiness I can’t quite describe. There’s nothing like the sight of Christmas decorations after the holiday has passed. Walking into a room strewn with yuletide detritus is like returning to the scene of Bacchanalian excess the morning after, when all you’re left with is a headache and a vague sense of shame. The thought of candy, cookies, credit cards – consumption in any form – invites feelings of guilt and disgust. I can’t wait to eat a salad, go to the gym. I vow never to go to the mall again. I just want to get clean. Coming down from Christmas – reconnecting to my body’s natural rhythms and my mind’s natural pace – takes days.
I doubt I’m alone. Most people seem a bit pallid and disconnected, not quite themselves, in the days following Christmas. It’s as if we’re all trying to traverse the void that the holiday, with its attendant excess, has left in its wake. But what if we were to introduce some elements of Ramadan into our celebration of Christmas? Muslims, during the month-long observance of the Islamic holiday, abstain from eating, drinking and sex during the daylight hours. The practice of fasting is meant to teach patience, humility and restraint. It is meant to inspire empathy and appreciation. It’s a way to achieve “God-consciousness” and repent for past sins and misdeeds. Above all, fasting is meant to bring one closer to one’s spiritual self. By denying the body, practitioners are strengthening the soul and the mind. It is an exercise in discipline and meditation that, once completed, should leave one feeling more connected, more whole.
Westerners have a long tradition of borrowing from other cultures to temper an immoderate nature. Yoga brings us calm, Tao brings us balance – so why not look to Islam for a bit of restraint? Maybe we can begin this year at the height, rather than the depths, of self.
No one is coming to save you, Comrade.
There is no revolution on the horizon, there is no party, there is no grand idea that will finally awaken humanity to its potential and free us from our chains.
There is no vanguard, no purpose, no secret method we can use to magically make the powerful resign themselves to the fate of ordinary existence.
There have been pretenders. There are priests and pimps and false gods that call on you to worship them. They will give you immortal “sciences” and identities, they will assure you if enough people just donned the uniform or spoke the right words everything would be okay.
There are those of course who would deny you even that, who refuse any action without every detail planned out. Who will run the schools, who will build the roads, how will blockades and tire fires impact our carbon footprint?
They will call your plans starry-eyed, impractical,
an Insurrecionist fantasy.
They say this half-asleep.
They, so wise, say they will “wait for the people to rise.” The people have risen and been crushed. Occupy failed, Standing Rock failed. All that’s left is you and me.
Everybody is waiting and nobody wants to start, everybody wants to join and nobody wants to build. Everybody is waiting for a grand and general revolt, yet steal an apple or burn a cop car and they’ll call you an “adventurist.”
Everybody is sure change is right around the corner, that divine powers will steer us the right way. Everybody is sure time is on our side, that the good ones will always win and that things can’t hold out much longer. Everybody says a revolution is possible with no bloodshed and no hard feelings, that everyone will be heard and cared for.
Everybody is waiting. Waiting for something. Waiting for somebody, somebody to save them.
They aren’t coming to save you, Comrade.
– Dr. Bones, via theanarchistlibrary.org
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The Reenchantment: Birth of a New Mythology shines a light on the personal and geopolitical state of play for 21st century youth — and how near at hand are the antidotes to alienation, isolation, and despair. Are you feeling a little more watched over of late? Look no further than your hand.
They will know we are rebels by our love.