A Letter to Friends

Dear friends,

Soon, our lives won’t ever cross again. I say this with some sadness… Though we may still be friends, we have since grown into middle-aged adults who have become more and more comfortable in their own skin, protective of our time. I know for a fact that many of us right now are busy doing our jobs, working on post-graduate degrees, getting married, starting families, building homes, all of the above, few of the above, or none of them at all.

Since I last saw you, I have seen some of you go homeless, encounter abuse, become addicts, delude yourself into dangerous beliefs, and stranger still, become so self-centered that empathy was difficult, or was silenced to make way for desire. We are at a time in our lives when we concentrate our attention on singular pursuits, so that our ability to bounce back from traumas is weakened. Our decisions have more consequences, the people we surround ourselves with are now integral parts of us and the physical places we find ourselves in are likely going to be the ones we end up staying in for our working lives.

You and I have both slowed our high-speed journey through our youth and aged. We claim to be more frail, claim to require more respect and luxury. We are in need of more support and are still under the bizarre notion that despite these changes, everything will always be ok. 

I can’t reassure any of us (not even myself) that things won’t spin out of control. Words have often never been worth much, so that this letter too, might be read with indifference. It’s written in perhaps the very last window of time that I can reach you, before we simply lose all communication with each other.

If we had understood how dangerous, complex and unfortunate this world could be, I’m sure we would have done things differently. All I can hope for at this point, is that the few experiences that some of my other friends have had, might guide you to not make the same mistakes. I hope that they can be of service to you, at some point or another.

 To start, I have some friends who didn’t listen to their partners and now find themselves in positions that are hurting them. One of the most important remedies for long-term mistakes is to develop the ability to listen to those who care about you. Ignore me if you wish, but listen and think of what your loved ones are trying to tell you.

Then again… I have friends who did the opposite: They only listened to their partners and got stuck in bad relationships. They allowed their partners to take advantage of them because they didn’t know how much they were isolating them, and lost their health, dropped their principles and abandoned their finances due to some form of hypnotism that they couldn’t shake off. Don’t let anyone do this to you. It costs you so, so much.

This mainly happens, I think, because of the indecisiveness to act. As far as I can see, it is a symptom of a deeper issue that I believe many of us struggle with. I sincerely hope you don’t find yourself gridlocked in indecision and if you do, that something takes you out of it. I have no good advice for this. Just do things. The only wrong decision is not to.

The one exception to this, is to drink. It is a malady that too many of my friends have fallen victim to. Alcoholism is present in 5% of the population above the age of 15. That means that, if all my friends & companions were to read this letter, around 25 of you will struggle with drinking, or are struggling with it right now. Problems associated with alcohol are innumerable, many of them life-long. Some of them impact your thinking, some your physical health, some your social circles, all effects of which are negative. 

These things creep on us. We let compulsions go on for too long, because we are satisfied with ourselves and thus, allow compulsions to become addictions. Where the line between compulsion and addiction is to be found, is not always clear, which makes it so mischievous. I’ve had friends whose compulsions not only drove them to addiction, but also broke their spirits, devolving them into mindless zombies I once knew as people. Marijuana, alcohol, online gaming, even doing or watching sports can turn a healthy, “normal” person, into one that only reacts to basic instincts. 

Therapy in that respect, is not the answer to these, or many other problems. But it most certainly can help. For me, I have found that learning as many different points of view as I could, helped. Learning is a skill that once lost, is neuro-chemically difficult, even impossible to reacquire, hence why I am advocating for it, right now. I’ve seen friends stop learning, who cannot for the life of them learn anything new. The material to practice learning does not have to be algebraic geometry. Even getting to know new people, or using a new recipe is a form of knowledge acquisition.

Work however, is not learning, no matter how interesting your job may be. It’s a passive, automated activity that will make you forget your worth to others if done too much. Adult ambitions are akin to a factory assembly line with you as the thing being produced. Phantasmagoric stimuli are strategically expelled into your brain so that you continue to accept the line of your own demands. Too many of my friends have lost themselves in their occupations, selfish wants and imaginary communities that served them little.

What’s worse, is they used such delusions to rationalize the goodness themselves, and  this world. It’s true that throughout history, the world has not changed much in terms of treating others kindly. But there are taboos, things said behind closed doors and individual cries for help that are ignored. Just because you’re ok, doesn’t mean that many others are. 

We are still here, though. We are in this world. and our good and happy days are not over yet. With the worst predictions for Global Warming coming true, the world will die a slow and painful death, a preventable situation that we can all do something about, right this moment. Eat local foods, give up beef and milk products (even to a small degree) and ride your bike to work.

This statement will likely not change anyone’s habits, including mine. But because of our unwillingness to change, the world we live in now won’t be the one that our children will grow up in. We are indulging in travel, accumulation of material wealth and expensive lifestyles, supply chains of which are beginning to crumble. Potato failures, power outages, sudden deaths of birds and fish are occuring behind the scenes, while insect populations are falling and biodiversity is decreasing. Most biomass in existence today is in the form of farm animals. 

As if this weren’t enough, wars, famines, political upheavals simply add to these problems. I’ve had friends affected by such strife. Covid, despite its seemingly null effect on society, was, and still is, hugely destructive, to certain children who lost family members to the disease. No one wants these things to occur, and yet they happen all the time. This is not a failure of people, or of society: It is a systemic property of civilization.

Child-rearing too, is systemic and is often our raison d’être. It’s an instinct so strong, that I have a friend whose good relationship was broken because of their medical infertility. Few people choose this disorder, hence why discriminating against a loved one on such grounds is as cruel as any other discrimination. It’s not an easy situation. But I hope that in such a case, you think in actualities instead of hypotheticals.

Pets may be a replacement for kids in such a case, but don’t forget that they are not as valuable as people. People have families, friends, jobs and purposes beyond their own needs. Dogs, cats, rabbits, in general, do not. Don’t be fooled by how you feel.

My last observation is a personal one. It baffles me that society doesn’t talk about the morality of child-rearing in this day and age, where depression among teenagers is increasing year after year. We are all thankful to be alive, mostly because it is what we are programmed to believe. This does not mean that this belief of ours is incorrect though. It just means that this unfortunate, inherent bias masks hidden truths about our lives beyond which we haven’t been given the tools to see.  

Finally, if you ignore any or even all this advice, then just take this one bit. It is the most fundamental little advice that I have come across and it helped me shape my future:

Focus all of your energy, your time and your effort to save just one person in this world, even if that one person is yourself. This is good enough. For me, or for anyone.

Good luck. I hope to see you soon.




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