My Conspiracy Theory

I have probably just doomed TCI to all sorts of Google and social media excommunication, but I just have to share this feeling I have, that reality is not at all what it seems, that some people know that, and that, in secret or even right out in the open, they are enjoying the benefits of their scheme while the rest of us go on clicking the hearts next to dog and cat videos.

A conspiracy exists when a system or condition of common experience is actually something else, and that something else was manufactured by a group of actors with a personal interest and agenda, hidden by the facade the rest of us can see.

OK. Here’s what I think is going on. Life is hectic. I perceive it that way, and I know a lot of you do too. In US work culture, we go all in on work. Someone said to me the other day, “I started to panic at work, because I wasn’t panicking at work. I assumed I must be forgetting something.” The system, mindless, all-pervasive, and difficult to change, has traumatized many of us.

The attention economy can only thrive with your input, your eyeballs, your snapshots, your pithy captions. You pay with a case of aggravated ADD. It’s worth it though, because, as I said, pet videos.

Simultaneously, non-work life is more programmed than ever. Kids have one million activities, all on a schedule. Any parent with a full-time job likely works like they have two full-time jobs. Even if you don’t have kids you are swept along by the raging current of never-ceasing activity. You’re so tired you can’t sleep. Coffee no longer raises your pulse rate.

But secretly, beneath the grind of everyday living, there is another way, a slower current drifting along, one that allows for introspection, thoughtfulness, contentment, creativity and connection. I suspect that, despite the Tilt-a-Whirl quality of your daily experience, you have glimpsed this slower, more meaningful way of being. Perhaps you even saw it while you were out riding your bike, although sometimes it only appears when you are on the verge of mental and physical exhaustion.

Who knows about this? And what do they stand to gain?

You know that one friend you have who is always saying you should try meditating? They’re in on it. Also, people who are “under-employed” but sufficiently compensated. Monks. Nuns. Nature lovers. It’s basically a cabal.

The world these people inhabit is accessible to jabronis like you and me, but it takes a lot of work to get there. We have to meditate (YEAH, I KNOW IT’S REALLY HARD. I CAN’T DO IT EITHER.), or we have to ride a long, long way, or, and this one is mind-blowingly counter intuitive, we have to slow down. Just stop pressing down on the pedals so hard. Listen for birds chirping. Birds chirp much more in this other place. Also the trees sway, and there are flowers you’ve never seen before.

What makes the existence of this place so insidious is that the people who inhabit it aren’t keeping it a secret. They’re living in it right alongside us. They are actually gaining nothing from our continued unwillingness to join them.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s crazy, the sort of thing consigned to the shadier corners of the internet. The kind of thing whispered about in cafes after meetings of only the most arcane sort. But I’ve come to think it’s true, and while I’m not yet drinking the tea or taking the supplements, I’m interested in learning an awful lot more. I’m interested in getting on my bike and setting out in the general direction of this place. If I don’t come back, draw whatever conclusions you may.

Join the conversation
  1. bikeworld says

    I spend my thirties and forties chasing more dollars with the corresponding increases in stress and decreases in happiness. Now, I make a decent living, come home and enjoy life. Certainly there are still responsibilities at home, but they get done in time. I still don’t get to ride as much as I’d like, but I ride enough and hang out with my friends.

  2. bdicksonnv says

    Beautiful! We get sucked into this “have to” mindset. I also get in this whole “I have to…” so I can do X and I forget my how lucky I am as an elementary school principal. This means when there’s recess, I get recess. I get to relive 3rd grade, kickball, soccer, tag (who needs bike intervals) and when it’s summer break I get summer break. Yeah I gotta do that whole “I’m the principal” thing but for the most part I hang out with kids and do kid stuff and no one thinks I’m weird. BEST JOB ever.
    People need to slow down, look around and listen to birds!
    Thanks for reminding us Robot

    1. alanm9 says

      My dad was a middle school principal and gave it his heart and soul. Thank you for loving an important job and doing it for kids.

      Me on the other hand, I’m waking up in a city I dont like after an 11 hour day of meetings. Today might go 12. Its my dream job but it can be a grind and I admit I think about retiring more and more. My dad retired early after 38 years; he was always worried that one day he’d be phoning it in and he didnt want to embarrass himself and short the kids. His mantra was “I’d rather retire 5 years too early than a day too late.” I’m always gauging when that might be for me and I hope I dont blow it.

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