One Place Left in the World / Optimistic Pessimism

I saved this one from a few days ago, because it’s not good to publish when you’re in a depressive episode. But I think it’s important, as a thought, a concept, one way of looking at the world – one side of a many-sided die. 


Let me preface this by saying that I probably shouldn’t write during a depressive episode, but I would like to get some thoughts out my head. It might help, or something like that.

I like how hopeful Peter Garrett sounds when he sings the lyrics of Antarctica. 

“There must be one place left in the world
Where the skin says it can breathe
There’s gotta be one place left in the world
It’s a solitude of distance and relief.”

It’s something to believe in, even if it doesn’t exist. And today is one of those days where I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. I’m bemused sometimes when I read social commentary these days, particularly around safe spaces and the decrying thereof. Safe spaces have never existed, and they never will. People are too cruel, and that is the honest truth. When have I ever had a safe place to run to?

Never. Not even in my own head, because even if I make imaginary havens, memories still have the power to rush in there, to find me in the dark of my subconscious where I have no control and no way to repress.

Safety is a lie. So it’s funny to see people talking as though it’s something people get too much of. As if it’s something people even get at all. I’ve never been safe, despite the best efforts of those who love me. And I’ve long since given up thinking I ever will be. Like that’s going to happen. I don’t think I deserve anything. It doesn’t matter. We’re not important. Every time an attempt will rise to create safety, the counterbalance will fall and it will be reset. It’s a Sisyphean struggle, and more than a little pointless.

In a way, it was easier getting over things when I was thirteen. Outside of the expected fallout of superficial verbal abuse, I only had to deal with the in-depth cross-analysis from my own brain. I had no way of knowing what another person truly thought without a good few hours of deep conversation. I had limited access to newspapers. And so, I could hold the delusion of the world outside my immediate situation being ultimately a supportive place.

But I think I am grateful, now that I know more. It’s better than not knowing, because life would be shit if you kept moving forward only to have your hopes dashed each time. I’d rather move forward with more certainty. So, some things to remember: Everything is hostile. Don’t expect anything from anyone. Assuming kindness will only make it hurt worse. Assume it’s all terrible, and you might get the odd nice surprise (but don’t hold out for it). Optimistic pessimism. It’s not safe, but nothing is, and it’s better than hope. It might even keep me alive longer too, because apparently that’s a thing people care about.

And yet, I’ll still listen to those songs, because make-believe is nice to indulge in.

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