A holiday that pre-dates Christianity celebrated in Europe for thousands of years to mark the halfway point of the winter season. In modernity, winter is merely an inconvenience, thanks to our well-insulated homes and central heating, but for thousands of years, winter was a different animal. A deadly animal. The cold was an ever-present existential threat. Food was scarce. A winter injury or illness could be a death sentence. And winter was boring, there wasn’t much farming or labor that could be done. It was a lot of downtime isolated with one’s thoughts, hopes, anxieties, and regrets. The winter solstice holiday was a much-needed, heartening, reminder that they were half-way through the cold, dark winter.
Last year I read this very thoroughly researched book, At Our Wits’ End, about the troubling decline of general intelligence across the western world; which explains why we never went back to the moon and why you can’t fly at supersonic speeds on the Concorde across the Atlantic.
This is something that people might debate about but it’s become especially apparent in 2020 that civilization is in decline. We keep getting smarter phones but people are getting dumber. Politics are getting dumber. The news is getting dumber. Entertainment is getting dumber. Culture is getting dumber. The rules are getting dumber, you’re not allowed to go to the gym but you’re allowed to go to Walmart.
At Our Wits’ End concludes, citing historical examples — Rome, Classical Greece, etc — that this decline of intelligence is the harbinger of an impending new dark age — a brutish bad time. There’s a chance that, like in the movie The Matrix, that 1999 was the true high-water mark for humanity and that we damned to decline, devolve, and ultimately be enslaved by our own technology and hubris in the age of Aquarius.
But NOT if I have anything to do about it — not if we have anything to do about it…
You were born at a special time, you weren’t born in a time and place where freedom or tyranny was guaranteed to you. If you were born in the United States in the 1950’s you had freedom practically guaranteed your entire life, but if you were born in the Soviet Union, in 1930, you had tyranny guaranteed from cradle to grave.
A dark, dystopian technocratic world of neoliberal fascism beckons, certainly, but I believe that arch of history bends toward something approximating Utopia. The collective human spirit has breathed free too much to put back on the face mask of tyranny. Civilization is in decline but I’ll suggest to you that this year, 2020, is the winter solstice — that we could be half-way through the new dark age.
You were born at a time when you get to chose tyranny or freedom! Perhaps it’s all just random, perhaps there’s nothing magical about the universe, but I like to think that there’s some master plan at work. If you find life to be pregnant with drama, suspense, adventure, coincidence, irony, and climatic conclusions, perhaps your life is something like a novel penned by an unseen author. You were born at this remarkable time of accelerating freedom and accelerating tyranny because you were meant to make a difference.
In another 50 years (and we’re all going to still be alive in 50 years if we do the Biohacking and anti-aging stuff) we all want to be able to look out at a world better than the one we inherited. We can look back and say that 2020 was the Winter Solstice of civilization and that we played our part to build a better, freer world. Instead of just saying, “I sat on the sidelines, and just watched the left, the corrupt government, and giant corporations strangle freedom.”
What might it mean to fight for freedom? It’s different for every one of us, you have to figure that out for yourself.
But what’s universal is that…
In modernity, the main way that we are enslaved is with comfort. In 2020 they are really doing their damndest to seduce us with comfort; “just stay home,” watch Netflix, here’s free money in the form of a government stimulus check, your fast-food (or marijuana) delivery is just a few swipes away, and enjoy some free, streaming 4K porn! The siren song of comfort has never been louder. Before we fight “the system” for our freedom, we first fight comfort — the hardest victory is over self.
Being a holiday, before you are a couple of days of downtime. Devote some of that time to meditation and contemplation. Ask yourself, in 2021 how can you choose discomfort? It might be fasting, cold showers, having hard conversations, abstaining from things that make you weak, or turning off the TV and reading difficult books — you’ll have to figure that out on your own. If you don’t chose your problems and sources of discomfort, the entropic world will chose them for you.
I wish you antifragility in 2021!
This was a speech that I first made off-the-cuff in a one-on-one coaching call with a client, I refined it a little more for the Limitless Mindset Year-End hangout, and now see to fit to release to the world. If you’re skeptical of the civilizational intelligence decline I mentioned, check out this book review…
At Our Wits' End
I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner…
Please share this video with someone who might need a little reason for hope at this time.
Filmed at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sofia, Bulgaria
Two Steps from Hell — Victory
Ivan Torrent — Rêverie