I have been thinking about how people have been voting lately and how it has been analysed as a rejection of established politicians and institutions, immigration and financial inequalities. Sure, a lot of people are fed up with all these things and there is still a lot governments could do to make sure that no one is left behind.
But I think there is a deeper phenomenon happening here and it has nothing to do with politics, money or foreigners. I believe that we have come to a point in Western societies where the life we have created is utter madness and completely unsustainable for our souls.
Don’t get me wrong, we are lucky to have been born at a time when material living conditions are so much easier and more comfortable than for past generations. The Industrial Revolution has led to amazing material progress and intellectual enlightenment. Even politicians worked hard after WWII to make peace a fundamental priority with the creation of the United Nations Organisation and Europe. Life got really good.
However, some people became convinced that we needed to always move forward towards ‘more’ and ‘better’. More technology to make life easier, to access information quicker and to distract ourselves as often as we wish. More diversity in food and drinks. Better opportunities for everyone, higher productivity and greater performance. But at what cost?
I am grateful for so many of these things, I truly am. I couldn’t imagine life without equal opportunities for women, without a washing machine, Google or wonderful books. It all got really good… until it wasn’t.
For me, at some point, work pressure and insane expectations led me to burn out. Life, as it was, had become unsustainable for my soul. My field, Education, had lost its way with managers more interested in targets and constant monitoring of teachers and test results than in children enjoying their childhood and their learning. The memory of what anxiety did to my body, my mind and my soul won’t allow me to even contemplate the idea of working full-time anywhere again. I just can’t…
I was just one of so many people in many different fields who burnt out and I wasn’t the last. Everywhere I go, especially in big cities, I see people who feel stressed, overwhelmed or stuck. Work pressure and comparison with others on social media or in the media, lead us to make decisions that are not aligned with our profound essence.
We, as a society, have lost our way and the lifestyle that many of us have is not sustainable for our soul. Our soul needs connection with nature, meaningful relationships, time and space to rest and explore who we really are, what we really enjoy doing. Our soul has become depleted and feels silenced by a society where the ego reigns.
My soul is alive when I watch the sun rise or set, when I listen to the rain or to the waves of the ocean, when I pick fruit and savour them, when I leave my curtains open to be bathed in moonlight, when I spend an hour in traffic some days just to pick up my 14-year-old from school and see his face light up for a moment, when I see an Art exhibition with my friend Claire and both our souls delight together at the sight of the light or colours in a painting, when I hug a loved one for just a few extra seconds, when I light a candle, when I listen to a well-written BBC Drama, when I read a book just because I’m really interested, when I journal and let it speak, when I do something creative just for pleasure, when I write, when I drink a cup of tea and sit still in the moment.
This week I saw a man on the news talking about 5G coming soon and how it would mean quicker downloads and the emergence of brand new technology. I couldn’t share his enthusiasm. I couldn’t see how any new technology could help my soul feel more at home in this world. I imagined the air getting more crowded with invisible waves, making us sick. I saw more disconnection from the world we come from, the Earth, our spirit, the divine.
I don’t need faster internet. Why not pour more money into medical research instead? Or to improve the quality of life of the sick and the elderly? Or to create happy schools for children?
I choose ‘less and good enough’ over ‘more and better’ if it means that I can notice the sky becoming orangey pink as I am writing this. 5G won’t stir my soul like this. Having more will distract me from the essential, which, by the way, doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals but I just want what is right for me. I want a life that is sustainable for my soul.