They call me a slacker—I am part of an entire generation. As you would imagine, we slack.
We can’t seem to get anything done or do anything right or find any direction. I used to be sad and sorry to belong to this group of people. How can I be defined in this way? I am meticulous. Conscientious. Caring. There is nothing in the world that I don’t care about, and I am a hard worker when I find a cause worthy of hard work.
And yet, any success I achieve is sun-baked in the light of my generation.
In addition to sad and sorry, I also used to be generally unhappy. I used to contemplate the lives of others, especially those splattered across front pages, with envy and self-judgement. I struggled to fit in and appear as if I had more money, prestige and power than I did, but I couldn’t drive myself forward down the usual paths to success. With each passing year I could only become more angry as I never became famous or rich, the ultimate barometers of success. I looked for the reasons for my lack within myself: how could I have made that decision? Or chosen this path? Everything I have ever done has lead me here, I would lament to myself. I am a failure. I must be a slacker. I never had a choice. I am born of my generation. I used to feel this way.
Until one day when I woke up.
I woke up and went to the store. I managed my way through traffic. I navigated the aisles and stood my place in line. While I waited, I contemplated the gossip mags, my place in this world, the state of the global village. And then I stood still as the sweet epiphany poured over me like light, filling every dark corner. My heart raised towards the sky in slow motion as the world around me moved in fast-paced automation. I stood up straight and tall, full of confidence. I stood still, and silent.
I am brilliant.
Suddenly, I can see my brilliance, our brilliance: everything is wrong! Yes! Everything! There is nothing in the world that isn’t wrong right now. And it isn’t just me: everyone in my generation sees it also. What does one do when one finds something wrong? Does one keep going? Racing ninety miles an hour in the wrong direction? No. We stop.
I am filled with courage.
I stand still. In the face of madness, when the rest of the world is heading over the cliff, I stand still. We stand still, together.
There have been moments in the past where I fretted my place in this world and how I could make a difference, but now I realize that I have been changing the world all along. Because I have always resisted doing something because people tell me to, because everyone else does, because there aren’t any other options. I am the Resistor. The Occupier. The Disobedient. The Defiant. The Rebel.
I am the one who stands still.
I grow taller every day. My posture is a testament to the confidence that grows within me. When I am old, my spine will reach towards the sky, and my eyes will see a world that I helped to create when I had the power to stop, and l did. When the world was mad, I will tell my grandnieces and grandnephews that I stopped the madness. I looked to my left and to my right, grasped the hands of those beside me and together we stopped.
We suffer the name calling that is the thinly-veiled attempt to keep us in line. We stand and do nothing. We don’t care about money, prestige or power. Our spines reach towards the sky and our hearts brim over. We have come here to change the world; we do it by stopping. We stop filling the trash bins with our waste, stop cutting down all the trees, drinking all the oil up. We stop using more than is ours. We stop believing what they tell us, just because it is on TV.
We just stop. We stand. In Tree. Still.
You can call me a slacker. I used to be offended, but I’m not anymore. I am a slacker—and I am a part of an entire generation. You better believe we are here.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Jon Montjoy