So, there’s a lot going on just now.
Protests in the streets.
A dangerous pandemic.
The collapsing of Capitalism under its own, bloated weight.
(and like always, the ones least able to bear it are the first ones to have to shoulder the burden.)
We are told, constantly, that it is important to take the time for “Self-Care.”
“Self-Care”, as proposed by the fuckers most loudly proposing it, usually consists of making sure you get some exercise, and enough sleep, and maybe meditate, and why not – go ahead and eat that chocolate chip cookie, or binge-watch that series you’ve been wanting to see for a while now.
(let me state here, I am emphatically not opposed to self-care. I’m not one of those, “suck it up buttercup” mother fuckers. We should all be taking better care of ourselves than we do. This essay isn’t about that. So, if you were about to get pissed and stop reading, give it a paragraph or two more. Trust me.)
I am aggrieved by the now-more-than-ever focus on so-called self care because it is being used to mollify rather than heal.
For, oh-fucking-ages now, you’ve heard about the importance of taking personal time – usually away from work, (if your fucking job even provides for that, which most don’t, but that’s another rant,) to maintain one’s health.
We’ve been hearing about using meditation for the same purpose for the same amount of time.
Somewhere, in the Sacred Halls of American Business, it was decided that companies and the media should propound these ideals. And they do, but they never explicitly tell us why.
Well, if you’re bullshit detector is as sensitive as mine, you’ll have known why, long before you got to this sentence. If it isn’t, allow me to elucidate:
It’s so we can be good, productive workers.
(Yeah, yeah, they say, “productive members of society,” but we know what they fucking mean.)
“Take more vacation time.”
“Practice Mindfulness Meditation.”
“Practice ‘Self Care’.”
Not so you will be whole and healthy human beings.
Not because it is conducive to human flourishing.
So you can be better cogs in the machine.
So you can do your part to keep the system running.
But, take a close look and tell me if this even is a system we should keep running, much less sacrifice ourselves for.
Go ahead, I’ll wait…
The world-wide plague, the protests in the streets, the meteoric cratering of our fake fucking economy.
Is this a thing we should be stripping our nerves bare to protect?
Or would self care, real self care, mean figuring out a system that doesn’t require so much marginal tweaking to maintain?
Meditation, vacations, entertainment should not be what we use to insulate ourselves from the flow of daily life, but things that help us connect with it.
So much of the “Self-Care” being pushed nowadays is meant to anesthetize us. It isn’t there to make us happy or even aid in the fulfillment of our lives, but to make us just numb enough to keep plodding along, to keep greasing the wheels with our blood and passion.
To keep spending our lives to make someone else’s profit.
I hate companies that will teach some version of meditation, but only use it on your break so you can deal with the stress of doing the job.
I hate businesses that tell you to take more time, but don’t make it possible to do so.
If it was legal for these fuckers to give us cocaine or meth, they’d do it in a heart beat.
Adderall Mondays. The 2 bump coffee break. Speedball casual Fridays. The most productive in the office gets an IV bag of the ‘good stuff’.
(yes, before you get all #notall whatever, I know there are some businesses out there that do actually care about the culture and their workers. But, let’s face it, there are few enough so as to be seen as the exception, rather than the rule.)
People have said, for ages, that, “the world can’t stop just because…”
Maybe that, right there, is the problem.
Here’s the thing – we created this world.
Maybe haphazardly and partially by accident, but we made it.
We put it together for our benefit.
You dig that?
It is supposed to help us.
Not some of us.
Not a few of us.
Not 1% of us.
That’s an all-inclusive word – us.
What kind of machine have we built if we can’t stop it to take care of ourselves?
Is that the kind of machine we want to keep running?
Is that the kind of machine we want to sell our lives and energy for?
If your answer is No, maybe it’s time to think of a new way of working.
Maybe real self care is thinking up a system that doesn’t require constant sacrifice.
Maybe, instead of meditating, or taking a vacation to forget about your woes, or even – heavens fore fend – watching that next episode of what-have-you, maybe take that time to see if there might be a better way of living.
Maybe we modify the machine.
Maybe we burn it to the ground and start anew.
Maybe something in between.
I know I’ll be thinking about it.
Until next time…