Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

That's T.S. Eliot... smart quote from a smart guy, and a shameless segue into my first post: what I'm doing here and what I hope to accomplish. I want to be a writer and I want to share with you the voices that move me. Actually, I take that back. I am going to be a writer. Whether or not anybody reads what I write is an entirely different matter. And the reality is, they might not, which, for a writer, is a pretty clear-cut a definition of failure (and its good friend, poverty). I'm not actually saying that I'm going to end up homeless, but still, there's a reasonable chance that I'll hit the age of 40 saying, "Maybe those guys did sell out, but at least they can afford their groceries". Still, writing is all I really want to do, and if I was to disregard that solely from fear of failure or hope for rewards... well, then I'd be of sorry stock indeed. The same goes for all sorts of friends of mine trying to be drummers, dancers, actors, and least of all, happy. We're all doing the same thing: pushing our chips out onto the table, and come bank or bust, at least we'll know we tried.

We're at a point in our lives where we're starting to make important decisions. Decisions like: "how much does money really mean to me?" and "what do I want from life?". How we answer these questions determines the direction we go, and already we see the herd diverging-- maybe it always has been. But as Dylan said, "if you have nothing, then you have nothing to lose", and that's the problem. We do have something, and it can be lost.

Every generation challenges the status quo, and for us, the modern gentry, the suburban children of successful baby-boomers, it's no different. I'm not saying that we need to run out into the street, burn our money, and turn our shirts inside out. I'm just saying that if you're somebody who's ever stopped and questioned the merit of society's definition of success, a definition founded on wealth and fame and power, then maybe you never really had a choice. Maybe you were never going to be happy with a normal life, and maybe you were always walking a path, this path, that would lead you-- a smart, capable youth-- to the fork you stand at right now.

On one side, you have a well worn path straight through the mountain, and from where you stand, you can just about make out what's over there: green lawns and a white picket fence. Hell, I have to admit, it looks pretty nice-- people are shaking hands and clinking cocktails. The other path, if you can even call it that, winds up and away and out of sight before you can see anything. Who knows what's up there? It's probably longer; it's probably steeper; the rock is probably slippery with dust and the ground is probably so far away that when you peek over the edge you can feel your balls retract into your chest. But that decision between the road you know you can walk and the other more difficult, more dangerous choice, is exactly what Eliot is talking about: a willingness to shuffle along and cling to the cliff-face in order to get where you're headed-- even if you don't know where that is, and even if it makes your mouth dry with fear. Every once in a while you need to take a deep breath and remind yourself: the real danger isn't the fall, it's getting so paralyzed from the sheer terror of the abyss below that you can't even move.

But hey, life is scary and that's all there is to it.

I come from a pretty well to do background, I go to a good college, and I am in no way unique or even exemplary in this regard: many come from and go to better. All I hope to offer is an option, an alternative. Just because the doors are open doesn't mean we have to walk through them. If I stay on the right track and go to law school and ask a friends' dad or one of the guys I play tennis with to set me up with a job-- I'll probably end up alright. I'll probably also end just like one of my friends' dads or one of the guys I play tennis with. And you know what scares me even more than looking back at forty and realizing I went all in and lost? Looking back at forty with a nice house and a nice wife and a nice golden retriever and wondering why on earth my life feels so empty.

Nothing is guaranteed, so we might as well do what makes us happy and fuck the rest. And while we're at it, let's find out how far we can go.

1 comment:

  1. "nothing is so difficult as to be alive. which is the only thing which you cannot learn ever, from anyone, anywhere."

    E.E. Cummings. Another smart fella.