Friday, May 10, 2013

Guru X Prologue

A job.  Everyone wants a job now.  Job job.  As if that’s the answer to all our problems.  Wasn’t having a job uncool once upon a time?  Perhaps that’s the real legacy of 9/11.  It freaked everyone out so much that they went running to the security, stability - and the enslavement that comes with it.  

Maybe I am too Gen X, or something.  But in the 90s, the cool kids were doing their very best not to get a job.  Nobody wanted to end up as an extra in Office Space.  Sitting in front of a computer in a cubicle all day was a sign of failure, not success.  We all wanted something truer and, though not being sure what that was, were unconcerned to search for something else.  We were perfectly fine being jaded and bored by the system.  

Some things change though we are often re-sold the same false dreams, over and over.  Every generation makes the same mistakes, in essence.  We’re no different.  I did what I could to hold out as much as I could against The Man.  I did my share of adventures, but then I got a girl pregnant in France, and she called me to tell me she wanted to have my baby.  And I said sure.  Let’s make a go of it.  And when I hung up the phone, every cell in my body was vibrating with a joy I’d never felt before.  It was to be my new adventure:  fatherhood and having a family.  Who was I kidding?  

I’ve settled down now, into our little routine.  You know what I mean:  laundry, paying bills, making sure we have enough groceries and making endless lists of errands that take up the entire weekend.  It never stops.  The kid always needs something.  And maybe if I am lucky I can watch a little football.  Football.  I now totally get why Football is the quintessential American sport.  It’s a type of numbing respite.  The perfect thing to do when you feel like killing yourself, while you wait for the laundry to dry on Sunday afternoons.  

I have an office job now.  A job I like enough.  It’s not a commander-in-chief type of job, but nobody messes with me too much, and I have money to live in a decent place and go to restaurants and take little vacations to cozy spots.  It’s a not a corporate job, thank God, and even claims to serve the public good.  Somewhat true, though even do-gooders are beholden to the ever pervasive market driven culture.  Even our personal relationships, to a certain degree, are tainted.  Though perhaps I am getting overly cynical in thinking that.  Though all of us know people who are with people and associate with people to get something back in return and it makes me sick.  

When you are a child, you choose friends out of a simple, unexplained, attraction.  Not a sexual attraction.  It was far more intuitive back then.  When we followed our heart without doubting ourselves, or calculating.  

Now: we are all now ensnared in the profit motive, and the politics of lobbyists.  Everything is a racket in the end - doesn’t mean you give up or stop trying to make things better - but I can’t wax poetic about the difference I am supposedly making in the world or the people who surround me.  Or perhaps it doesn’t excite me because I go to meetings, deal with office dynamics, and endless emails like anyone else.  Perhaps the outcomes are different, than say, Phillip Morris, but our process and way of working is similar.  We too have the best brand managers in the business and look to convince people through the wonders of marketing rather than rational thought.  They sell cigarettes, we sell misery - and we both want your money and attention.  Getting rich and helping the poor are both enterprises now.  I have a difference telling one from the other.     

A real difference in the world would change the way we work, think and interact with one another.  It would be a new way of organizing society.  But that’s stuff for Communists or something.  Not for an energetic people, such as ourselves, in constant need of success and winning.  
I’m happy all the same, I suppose.  I’ve never been as fixated on happiness as most people do now.  Happiness was not the goal; freedom was.  As was living authentically and righteously.  I did not want to work for a corporation because corporations were evil.  Both in the senseless things they produced and what they did to the sprit of people who were a part of them.  I wanted to truly live, explore and transgress the boundaries of who I thought I was.  For at least some years of my life, this was true, and I was able to understand the world and my place in it better.  

Because that is what most interested me, with my studies, my travels and friendships.  I wanted to figure out who I was, what I believed in and why, and then try and bend that a bit.  To test my truth out there in the big bad world.

God, this probably sounds horribly pretentious and self-indulgent.  Especially nowadays when all people want is a job.  They study for a practical purpose and believe there is something noble about paying their bills on time and taking care of their families.  I get it, survival.  Responsibilities.  We all can’t be Don Quixote, and someone has to do the mundane to keep our society humming.  I just never wanted it to be me.    

I thought I could be one of those few who could help push history forward.  Who could save us from ourselves.  I was wrong.  But I tried.  At least I tried.   

The real change makers are still the robber barons.  Or robber barons turned robin hoods.  They still call the shots.  And the rest of us, well, we can be grateful if we can securely feed our families junk and buy them things they really don’t need.  

What do children really need?  An elite education and European vacations or a role model for how to live in these senseless and vulgar times?  And given the choice, I think any child would give up all the comforts of an elite life for a little more time with their parents.  Yet we continue to “sacrifice” and work long hours to give them “opportunities”, establishing a vicious cycle they are sure to replicate with their children.  What we are really doing is wasting precious time.  

If I am saddened by any one fact of modern 21st century living it’s this:  that I spend an inordinate amount of time on activity that in the end will make little difference to me on my deathbed.    

Because in the end, you’re just left with stories and stories drive human existence more than money does.  It’s important to have good stories.  In the meaning and consolation they provide; we feel less alone.  Whenever I am having one of those soul numbing days I step out and get a cup of coffee and I stare out and remember and re-live some of my stories in my head.  It comforts me.  In a strange way, perhaps that is what differentiates me now, from the regular masses who always followed convention.  I have a richer inner life to fulfill me, though at times it’s equally a torment.  

The old cliche goes: it is better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all.  I don’t know if the same goes for Greatness.  To have reached transcendent heights and to fall down and to not even realize just happened gradually.  Until one day, I realized the spark was gone.  The restlessness of my youth had vanished and in its place was a placid calm.  I no longer missed what I was I missing though I knew:  something vital was gone forever.     

I am glad I resisted as long as I did.  That I at least had some fun.  That for brief moments everything made sense and that life was not something to be drudged through.  That it could be lived.  That you could make a difference in your world and the world of others.    

So I am going to tell you a story.  Some say it is the greatest story ever told.  They say this because they are plebes who play it safe, have never stepped out of their world, and taken a fucking chance on anything.  Regardless of its merits; It’s my story.  Never to be confused with any other, and in a way, this is my victory over the awful, technological and robotic world I find myself in now.  My story keeps me feeling human.  I hope it makes you feel human, too.    

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