To Oppose Power Is To Meet With Hopelessness, But Hopelessness Is An Invitation To Real Power

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To oppose power is to set yourself on a collision course with despair.

You set out, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, charging full speed at the man all set to overthrow the status quo, and then what happens?

You splat headfirst into a solid steel wall.

Your plans fail.

Your heroes capitulate.

Your comrades begin succumbing to propaganda.

You realize that the roots of establishment power stretch far deeper than you’d initially guessed, and that it has strategies in place to ensure its survival that are far more ingenious and effective than you’d ever previously imagined.

And then there she is. Lady Despair, in all her ego-crushing glory.

And then what do you do?

Perhaps you avoid the despair by pretending things aren’t as bad as they seem; pretending that the corrupt establishment lackeys that are being presented to you as power-threatening rebels really are power-threatening rebels, pretending the fake decoy revolution they’re stagnating your movement with is a real one.

Perhaps you do as so many lifelong revolutionaries have done and refuse to give in to despair, keeping your feet planted and refusing to fall as its weight saps the fire from your eyes and makes you hard, jaded and bitter.

Perhaps you avoid the weight of despair by giving yourself a new narrative about how the fight is useless and resistance is futile, so you drop your revolutionary spirit altogether and become whatever we call hippies who become yuppies these days.

Or perhaps you really give in to hopelessness. Really, truly surrender to it. Honestly, directly, and unreservedly.

And perhaps you discover something you hadn’t noticed before. A part of the equation it had never occurred to you to account for.

And perhaps you learn that just as your naive hopefulness was the result of a misperception of reality, so too was your hopelessness.

And perhaps it turns out that just as the impulse to fight the power was an invitation to hopelessness, hopelessness is in turn an invitation to real power.

Because it might perhaps turn out that when you let go of all hope — really, truly let go of it — you expect to fall. You’ve been holding onto hope like someone clinging to a cliff’s edge, so when you let go you expect there to be a disastrous plummet into the abyss.

And perhaps you will find that the fall never comes. You let go, fully prepared to plummet, and it turns out the whole situation was an illusion. There was never anywhere to fall to.

And perhaps you notice that your lungs are still taking in air. That the life of the world — including your own — keeps marching on completely unimpeded. That your body is still standing, all on its own.

And perhaps you discover on an experiential level that the force which powers you has never had anything to do with your hopes and your desires and your personal willpower. Perhaps you discover that it has never had anything to do with what you think of as “you” at all.

Perhaps, by relinquishing all hope and struggle and control, you find that what you’re really made of has never had any use for those things anyway. That, in fact, they’ve only ever been getting in the way.

And perhaps you find out that what you really are is far more powerful than what you thought you were. That it is far more powerful than the power you were trying to fight.

By letting go completely, perhaps you find that the life force which grows your hair and replicates your cells has far greater organizing power and spontaneous creativity than the repetitive thought patterns you’d previously been employing to fight the power.

Perhaps openings in the armor of the machine are noticed in what had previously looked like a solid steel carapace. Perhaps solutions emerge to what had looked like unsolvable dilemmas. Perhaps you begin moving in ways which surprise even you, because they arise from an unpatterned place of unprecedented aliveness.

And perhaps others do the same.

And perhaps that’s how we win.

Hope and hopelessness might just be an opening to a discovery of something that is far beyond them both.

Something boundless.

Something crackling with potentiality.

And something the bastards never saw coming.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. What the hell do I know? Try it out for yourself.

And let go.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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