Thursday, November 16, 2006

Warning: boring self-analysis follows

So you don't have to read this, I'm just trying to work through some stuff, I like to have it on record, and I am bad about losing things and throwing them away, so I figure a server owned by Google is a pretty safe place to store things. This really applies to most of my recent posts. But I don't mind people reading it, y'all might find it insightful. Or not.

I was thinking earlier today about my recent desires for escapism. To temporarily be things that I'm not, as a break from my life. And I was walking to the car to get some groceries, 'cause there are no close grocery stores (I should plan ahead trips to the store so they don't wind up like this, which is something I don't think about because it's so convenient to just go to the store whenever I feel like it and sit in my apartment being broody during the times when I actually have the time to make a proper grocery run). And I though to myself:

AL! Hold the fuck up! I thought you were supposed to be a plural person. I thought that you held several sometimes conflicting realities within yourself and celebrated that chaos. You should never need to escape reality, and you should never want to; reality is where everything good happens. But not for a long, long time have I seen you take some singular version of your self and believe so insistently that it's the "real you". I'm also pretty disappointed that you've made it the most boring, dour, ponderous version of yourself possible. You never actually believed that you were the person you dressed like until the last few months came around. Well, I mean, there always was a part of you that was that person, but it wasn't the whole thing.

On the radio later I heard an interview with an actor that played a major role in Fast Food America. The actor was talking about how his character, who was a powerful dude in the movie's fictional fast-food chain, had some misgivings about what he was doing but would never act on them because of his real-world pressures. He had to keep his job and raise his family. Because that all is real and acting on one's true beliefs isn't. OK, I'm not going to say that those values are misplaced; people must order their own values, in general. But you had to hear the guy talk, and hear the way he used the word "real" to discount personal convictions in favor of modern corporate tradition. Tradition. Tradition. Tradition.

Why is it that practically everyone from my rich suburban high school went to a four-year college? Tradition. It was the path set out for them and they followed it, most of them pretty damn aimlessly by my observation. Why do most of them approach job-hunting the way they do? Tradition. And then they get families and get locked in to that tradition, to perpetuate it on to the next generation.

And I'm gonna call myself out, I got one in-person job interview and only seriously pursued two companies going for a job. I wasn't very imaginative about it because all I knew is that I wanted to get as far away from anything resembling college as I could. And I'm lazy, both in the sense that it's a virtue for engineers and in the sense that it's a vice in life. Not that I would have done better had I applied at more companies. My life wouldn't be much different if I was working for Microsoft, Google, Amazon, AMD or Intel. My life wouldn't be much different if my mom hadn't opened up my application to UIUC five years ago, decided my handwriting was too sloppy, re-filled it out, written "Computer Engineering" instead of "Computer Science" because she couldn't find "Computer Science" in the list of majors, and then mailed it before I had a chance to look it over. Because I never made it different. Because I still wouldn't have listened to myself when I was burning out senior year. Because I would have kept doing the same thing the guy in the radio interview did, defining the "real world" as the world of the modern corporate tradition rather than the as world as I truly saw it.

And his movie character had a family and kids, he had an excuse. I'm 22, nobody's depending on me, I don't have very much debt or very many commitments. If I had a dream I could live it out, but I don't. But I could at least see the world through my own eyes rather than look at it through the little holes in the four or five nearly identical blue polo shirts that I wear so regularly. I could at least start living out any of the people that are inside of me other than this one that seems to have been at the fore lately.

I didn't bring my copy of Walden here to California when I moved here but I'll pick it up when I got home. One of Jason Zencka's favorite quotes from it when we were in high school was about the ability of people to make a difference in their own lives. It made me uncomfortable then because I never felt I could do it (but it still convinced me to go out running in the still mornings and feel really good), and it makes me uncomfortable now because I desperately need to do it OR ELSE!

Too much damn rambling. I have this really awesome song to record this weekend, and if I don't post it, even if none of you actually listen to my songs (which is cool, I don't claim they're awesome to anyone but myself, because I can hear them in my head being sung by people like Frank Black, Lou Reed and Elvis Costello), kick me in the ass and tell me to stop moping and do something. TIME TO SLEEP!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The true tragedy of a routinely spent life is that its wastefulness does not become apparent till it is too late."
Amitava Ghosh

I live in Mumbai and code/run.. and you just put it exactly.

Society and social rules just propagate mediocrity (the roach motel) ;)