“I hope life is being good to you,”
The message from an old friend made me stop and think. It made me think about old friends, life and how I was travelling after what was a very public and embarrassing mental breakdown some five years ago.
Most of my old friends are just remembered names and faces. Mere memories. There's a few I swap messages with on social media and even fewer that I share the occasional phone call with. Life does that. The dance never stops and we get swept away on our own little journeys. Most of us fight the good fight in our own way. Sometimes there's little else to fight for but memories of good times past and perhaps the promise of good times to come. Friends are never forgotten but seldom seen. There simply isn't time.
The inquiry reminded me of all those things and I hesitated to answer because I was surprised a little bit by my initial thought.
Yes, despite the fact that I am not rolling in bucket loads of cash, life is being good to me. As good as it ever has been, I think.
It's because after years of being the misfit, trouble making square peg trying to conform to ever narrowing round holes, I finally found my tribe.
My tribe. I like the sound of that, although I find it very hard to define exactly what my tribe is or who belongs to it.
All of my adult life, I've never really belonged. Don't get me wrong. It's easy to fit in on a superficial level. I just nod my head and smile that big shit eating smile. My opinion, thoughts, hopes and dreams are inconsequential. We live in a fake illusory world where perception and appearance are more important than honesty, sincerity and integrity. To get along, to not rock the boat and comply is the safe, easy, option. It is the death of a million shallow cuts of surrender. I have known this and suppressed it forever, or at least until I started to see the world from a fresh angle.
I suspect that none of us really belong and that, in fact, we are all silently screaming in protest as the walls of mediocrity disguised as respectability close in on our individuality.
There are a few special people who have never surrendered. Julian Assange, Kim Dotcom and Suzie Dawson immediately spring to mind. There are dozens of others, but these heroes are few and far between. Most of us are neither brave nor resilient enough to break the shackles and chart our own destiny. We need to be responsible, settle down and behave.
Except, some of us just aren't built that way. In the end, we must and do rebel.
That rebellion often manifests to the outside world as an apparent failure. Rebels go off the reservation. They seize to be “normal.” They don't give a flying fuck about reality TV, celebrity lives, the latest dance craze or who won some meaningless game on the weekend. Nor do they obsess over gaining wealth, buying the latest model car or getting the newest brightest shiny object that was engineered with the sole purpose of separating you from your hard-earned cash.
Rebels care a lot about stuff that you're not supposed to care about. We agitate and irritate. We are a pain in the bum. We are largely ignored, marginalised and on occasions, incarcerated. We are painted as conspiracy theorists, kooks and batshit crazy. We are made to feel alone because when we are alone we feel powerless and impotent.
Yet, many of us persist. There simply is no alternative.
We read open source documents from WikiLeaks and other reputable places. We pick apart the lies contained in Government press releases reported as fact by media outlets. We seek out the truth.
We point to the emperor's lack of clothing and ask, why? We laugh at official narratives scapegoating far off bogeymen in eerily similar ways to the mythical Goldstein in Orwell's 1984. We sneer at mainstream media's abject cowardice in pursuing moneyed interests. We dare to look under rugs that have been pulled over bloodied corpses. We rail against the stringent thought crime mentality imposed by political correctness. We are a pain in the arse and we revel in that.
Yet we feel alone, or, at least in my case, I did. I don't think that's by accident, because there are literally hundreds of thousands of us misfits. We are in our own shambolic, anarchic way a tribe. I like to call it the pain in the arse tribe.
I never knew that there were so many of us. Nor did I know how welcoming nor accepting that this tribe was. Our tribe runs the full gamut of political opinion. No subject is off limits, no narrative beyond question, no political figure beyond reproach. That makes us subversive, unpredictable, challenging, flexible and most importantly, dangerous to the powers that shouldn't be.
There's an old saying that says it's better to die on your feet than live on your knees. My fellow tribe members understand that. They understand it fully. So do I.
I like it here.
I like it a lot.
I've come home at last.
Life is indeed treating me well.
Keep fighting. I know I will be.
My name is Mark Hodgetts. I’m a freelance writer, eking out a crust writing
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