How to Decolonize Your Mind: On Earning the Right to Live

How to Decolonize Your Mind: On Earning the Right to Live

I’ve been struggling the past few months with creating content here on this blog.

My impulse is to make everything epic, to fit into the mold of headline formulas and content marketing frameworks.

I want all my content to be deeply valuable, to be unmissable, to shake things up in a big way.

Part of this is just a pure desire to want to serve and do big things, but I’ve noticed that this drive often gets in the way of me creating for you.

Trying to make everything incredible is a recipe for pressure, expectation and crippling resistance.

Fuck that.

From here on out, I’m going to try something different. I’m going to try to just create from my heart, share things that I’m passionate about, things that I believe will be useful to you.

Which brings me to the point of this article. Why do I have this drive to fit my content into the mold of online marketing? Of course, I want it to be successful. There’s nothing wrong with that. But probing deeper, there’s this sense that I need to be successful, in order to feel secure.

Why is that? Why do I need to earn my place in the world?

I’ve always been a very inquisitive person, and for a long time I’ve tried to answer this question. I knew that our schooling system, our capitalist economic system, our religious system all drive us to become something to be happy, to be fulfilled.

The gist of our world is this: work hard now, enjoy life later.

They all have this in common, but why?

For a long time, I didn’t know the answer to this question. I just knew that it was bullshit. So, I tried to live another way, my own way. Living and working on my own terms has been my goal for the last few years, but without a deeper understanding of why the world is the way it is, and what another alternative might be, I found myself floating, trying to make up a new path without any map to go on.

I needed to get to the root of it.

Why we are taught to earn our right to live as humans? No other animal feels this way, what makes us different as humans? Is it just our big brains fucking us up?

I realized that I needed a deeper understanding of human history. How did we evolve and get to the point where we’re at now? How did we go from a place of harmony and contentment with our place the world, to a culture that basically breeds stress, trauma and deep core wounding?

The answer, I’ve found is when we inadvertently domesticated ourselves as a species. That is to say, we started growing wheat. When I say “we,” I don’t mean all the cultures of humanity did this at once (which is a huge blundering, broad statement I see used too often in the anthropological world). One group in particular in the middle east started growing wheat.

Not knowing it at the time (how could we?), we slowly shifted from a core belief that nature provides for us, to a core belief that it is up to us to provide for ourselves.

Do you see how fundamentally different that perspective is?

For the vast bulk of our history, we lived as hunter-gatherers. The land provided for us. We simply had to go out and gather plants, and hunt wild game that was “provided” for us.

Yes, we had to “work” to live (ask a hunter-gatherer what work is and they’ll probably scratch their heads and look at you funnily), but we trusted that life would provide.

When we switched to an agricultural way of living, we became the ones responsible for feeding ourselves. That led to some positive things, otherwise we wouldn’t have done it: the obvious being a surplus of food, and population expansion. But it also led to a lot of stress. What if the crop got diseased? What if there was a draught? What if locusts came and wiped out our hard work? We then had to work harder to try to mitigate these things from happening. We developed irrigation, pesticides, and fences to protect our investment in the land.

This also led to a more divisive relationship with nature and the animal life around us. Of course as hunter-gatherers we weren’t innocent. I’m not here to perpetuate a fantasy of the “noble savage” or a fantasy that hunter-gather life was all roses and sunshine. We hunted species to extinction, we disrupted the landscape in huge, irreversible ways. We acted out of self-interest as any species would. But we weren’t at odds with the world in the way we are now. We didn’t have the fundamental belief “if I’m to eat, it’s up to me.”

The dawn of agriculture also led to distinct hierarchy and the desire to accumulate wealth. When there is a surplus of grain, someone has to protect it, someone has to lord over it and decide what to do with it. For the first time ever, we had a ruling class. This was the birth of stratification of people into castes and classes. It was also the birth of the desire to climb the ladder.

It’s crazy to think that something as simple as growing wheat could have such drastic consequences. Apparently humans aren’t the best at deciding what is good for them. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.banksy9

I’m summarizing all of this and making very broad strokes, but here is my basic point:

The reason you and I feel the chronic stress we do is because our core, fundamental belief is that if I’m to live, I have to earn my place.

The hunter-gatherer way of life trusts that nature will provide.

The agricultural way of life says that it’s up to us to provide by the sweat of our brow.

We our taught that if we work hard enough, rewards will come in the future. And if they don’t come in this lifetime, perhaps they will come in the afterlife (ring a bell, anyone?).

Man belongs to the world in the hunter-gatherer way. The world belongs to man in the agricultural way. Some even go so far as to say that it’s man’s duty to develop, conquer and rule over the world. Manifest destiny, right?

We’re getting into deep ideological territory here, but let’s just ask ourselves a simple question to brings things down to earth…

How is this core belief of earning our right to live working for us?

In my view, it’s leading to greater stress, more disease, more conflict, and less human happiness.

If you’ve ever wondered why this system we’re in feels wrong, backwards or doesn’t make sense, perhaps it’s because your intuition is telling you that this isn’t the way we’re meant to live.

The challenge of course, is that we’re here now. We’re in the matrix, and it’s hard to unplug ourselves from it.

But if we’re going to start anywhere, we need to begin by modifying our core, fundamental beliefs.

Do you believe that the world belongs to man, or that man belongs to the world?

Do you believe that nature will provide for you, or that it’s all up to you?

The tricky part to answering this question is as it stands, in our system, it is up to us. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t create a new system. A new way of living where we uncage ourselves from human domestication.

This my friend, is a messy, difficult business. Learning how to live in harmony with nature in the world we’re in requires that we be to some degree successful in the capitalist, imperialist world, while finding a way to extract ourselves from it.

It means relearning how to provide for yourself in a way that is aligned with nature, while also paying your bills and doing your best to heal yourself from the trauma of having to earn your place in the world.

Funny enough, we can use the technology that has enslaved as a tool for our own liberation. People everywhere are finding ways to create a living online that allows them to take back control of their schedule, and reclaim their time. Time and time autonomy is our greatest asset. Without it, we can’t rewild ourselves. There is simply no space.

With the internet we can band together, we can create a new culture of sovereignty outside of the empire churning itself toward collapse. We can become more resilient by relearning how to thrive as primal humans, even in this modern world.

Right now I’m learning how to forage, how to fish, hunt and create as wild of a habitat as possible in the city. I’m learning how to rehabilitate my body from years of sitting, to move with more freedom. I’m going back to my roots, learning the ways my ancestors ate and provided that doesn’t require me to earn my way to living. It’s not easy, and I might never get to a place of total harmony, but I’d rather do my best than try to go back to ignorance (which never really works, does it?).

Taking back control of your finances, living a minimalist lifestyle, learning foraging and hunting skills, these are things that can help you move in the direction of harmony with your habitat.

There is also a peace in finding that the world doesn’t belong just to you. At the end, nature will have the final say.

The truth is nature has always provided, but only when we trust that it will take care of us. Learning that has been hard for me, there is a deep core wounding that I’m only beginning to fully understand and see clearly. I’ve been hurting for so many years, but not fully knowing why.

The hard part about this is that really fully understanding these core beliefs opens a giant can of worms. It makes life even more messy, more complicated. It puts you face-to-face with your core wounding and that can be really uncomfortable.

While self-awareness can be a major bitch, it is also an opportunity to heal. Doing this work now with ourselves, we can create a new path for ourselves and future generations.

Being compassionate with yourself is immensely important. Realize that you didn’t choose this. Go easy on yourself as you make this journey to becoming as feral of a human as you can be. It’s definitely a process, and there are no easy answers.

One thing is certain, the world will be changed and healed by those that are living fully awake, not by those who are sleepwalking through life.

Note: If you want to educate yourself more about the history of our species, and how we got to where we are, I highly recommend reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and Sapiens by Yuval Harari. Both explain the crux of agriculture with more eloquence and in a more comprehensive way than I can do justice in a blog post.

Art courtesy of Banksy

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