No brighter future

One of the ways that I’ve been blindsided in the recent past was by the idea of ‘provisional living’. You know when someone you respect tells you something and you have that “uh-oh, I totally do that” moment? yeah, that.  Damn!

It was introduced a while ago on The Archdruid Report (  and this week was very helpfully featured by the site’s author John Michael Greer in a post The Gray Light of Morning ( with his trademark practical responses beautifully summarised (just to let you know, JMG’s posts hit the 2500 word mark usually and this one is no exception, so I encourage you to read it, but you’ll be expected to concentrate. Just so you know).

I’ve stolen the title for this blog post from him too – he first introduced the counter-incantation “There is no brighter future” in a post in 2010 Waiting for the Millennium  and it is as challenging in itself as it is effective in response to our culture’s addiction to the PROMISE OF PROGRESS (insert booming music suitable to your tastes for the overblown and flags waving in majestic animation).

The reason I raise these points (and sorry about the dodgy links I will try and fix those later) is not just to point out that the Archdruid’s blog is well worth reading, which it is (as are the comments, and he tends to respond to the first 80 or so) but to talk a little about some difficult things that most individuals in the first world are all either coming to terms with, struggling with or about to be blind-sided by and that is the “where’s my hover board?” question (for ‘Back to the Future’ fans) which starts to pop the bubble built so assiduously by decades of Star Trek and our news services being taken-over by corporate interests.

When trust in that bubble about the bright and shiny future starts to wane, or it pops, we’re left lurching around with our hurty hollowness and a lot of questions that taste bitter. Or at least I did. The last five years that I’ve been reading The Archdruid’s Report I’ve been nodding along, learning and taking notes but rarely feeling surprised. I’ve found a lot of wisdom in his words and they have helped me shine light on the path for others too. None of that prepared me for the day I stumbled over my own addiction to the promise of progress and started to join the dots. I mean really join them, not academically, not theoretically, but in my life for the food and shelter I depend on.

And then everything changed.

That’s a choice, obviously, you don’t get involuntarily infected.
You’re not going to catch radical honesty or anything from reading this stuff. But if you think about it… well you might find yourself trying to argue your way out of it, or around it, or that somehow my case is different.
Good luck with that.
Once you start recognising it, you see it everywhere. Then it is nearly impossible to watch any form of tv, or read the newsfeeds without recoiling from it. You’ll see it in how we deal with the ecological crises (‘when all the scientists agree’ or ‘someone will come up with something’) or the economy or our health or our personal finances (“when I win lotto”). Provisional living and the promise of a bright future go hand in hand. They keep us quiet, compliant, docile.

Without them there is a gap that I scrounged around to fill. In that gap I realised I had stuffed my life full of things and was somewhat self-suffocated. My creativity had been channelled into keeping the bubble intact and into threading together alternate stories of what might be, and how somehow it might all work out. I was never able to convince myself, and I certainly wasn’t able to convince anyone else. and on the other side? Hmmm, I’ll let you know when I have more of a clue.

In the short term, my challenge is to live inside of making choices, not hoping for answers. I must act in a way that lets my values breathe in every day. It isn’t glamorous but it is so practical as to be a real head-slapper. That’s my choice, to engage with the world as it is and find ways inside my life to simplify, to act, to be humane, to love, and to forgive.

There’s no big secret to attracting the life you want. The magic is in the daily choices we make and in the willingness to respect that there are things bigger and more valuable than our childish fantasies of entitlement-fulfilment.


2 thoughts on “No brighter future”

  1. Great post, Janine. Today’s Archdruid Report got my cogs turning too, and the idea of “no brighter future” has been a quiet revelation, simmering away! Provisional living is such a sticky trap, I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’m only just beginning to realise that as I grow dissatisfied with my way of living, the problem isn’t the way itself but the philosophy that underpins it, i.e., in some mythical future, I won’t have to do these things that make me unhappy anymore. Cue years of carrying on, doing the things that make me unhappy, with no end in sight. When you spell it out like that, it’s like, duh. Now, to start forging a new way. Thanks for helping me along the road Janine and JMG.

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