Comment editor Emilia dumps her thoughts about London, life, over-stimulus and inequality but concludes with optimism.
It’s always around this time, when the day gets shorter, the tan fades and the work piles up, that the world seems like just a bit too much to handle. To be precise, it’s all the contradictions in my life and the world around me that are too hard to handle. I suppose I could just overlook them or grow a thicker skin, but I tried that and it doesn’t work for me.
My Geography degree is all about inequality, the structural issues at stake and the commodification of, well, everything. Walking through the city with a geography degree can be a curse – while holding my flat white (in a keep-cup, in order to reduce my bad conscience and balance out the extra charge of oat milk), I cannot help but count the number of homeless, number of food chains, think of the number of ppm in the air polluting my lungs, and the number of Veolia trucks that drive by, reminders of the privatisation of garbage collection.
The overstimulus and contradictions make me go crazy, but they are also part of the adrenaline package called London, which makes me perform faster, better and aim higher. The speed with which I rush up the escalators in the underground is just one example of that.
It’s usually when I’m out of my flow, like now, that I stop, think and STARE at everything around me. The craziness that I think is called life, but might just be my over-priviledged and over-loaded version of life. Don’t get me wrong – I love my life – partly my present life, but also the day dreams that seem attainable, distant yet reachable, all part of that we-work-warehouse-drip-coffee-moscow-mule-vision of life.
Monzo has notified me that I have spent 13£ today. Now I have definitely lost the feeling for normality, because I genuinely do not know whether this is too much for two coffees and lunch. Is it? Wait let me see, if I multiply that by 14 days, I will have spent 182£ which is more than I had planned but still ok, but only ok if I stop buying green juices or go out or do anything else than live, really. So it’s too much. Yeah. See, I try – but it’s almost impossible to consume less.
So there’s consumption, its sister called guilt and the cousin called inequality, that I never visit but really should, and then of course the grandparents called climate change, which I inevitably let down all the time. I like incorporating family relations into the picture; perhaps this is related to my attempt to always try and tie back to the origins, the cause of the cause and the relations between all those processes included in my reality.
I think my reality is that I am over-privileged and cannot handle the fact that I am fully enjoying that privilege. That I am stressed by “overstimulus” but am actually just spoiled and have to grow a thicker skin. That I cannot handle not doing enough to contribute, that there won’t be ANY easy answers to solving the many problems we face.
By now you can probably tell I’m a little bit overwhelmed and conflicted. On a pie chart, I would probably appear as 50% overwhelmed but 50% completely, 100%, exhilarated. Paying 120£ for a yoga membership would probably do the trick and get me to those 200 flying percents of invincible flow. That sadly won’t help me unsee all those contradictions of the world I am part of though – the sustainability internship I did while planning my long-haul flights and the overpriced coffee I hold in my hand while a homeless man holds up a sign saying “It’s my birthday.”
So where does this leave me? On a quest to try and be better – read, reflect and create, until my measure of being good is not related to my Monzo spending or the number of steps I walked. I want to try harder to step outside my privileged comfort bubble and fight rather than participate in all these contradictions I keep noticing. Easier said than done, but better done than ignored!