Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On leaving the scene, and some fundamental lies (and truths) exposed

Are you familiar with stand up comedian Dave Chappelle? The guy's awesome - he's got wit like the edge of a sword. In the summer of 2005, amidst a flourishing career, and at a time when he enjoyed huge popularity, he literally left the scene - fleeing to South Africa to contemplate life and career. I completely sympathise with him...and I'll admit, that even though I'm not going through any of the career-related stress or natural pressures associated with celebritydom, I still feel the need to flee modern life. It's given me everything, and given me nothing, and now I feel the need to escape. I feel like doing a bike ride across India - just the way Guevara did with his friend across South America (all I need is a crazy idiot friend who says "fuck, let's do this"). I need time out, I need space, I need freedom, I need a breath of fresh air, I need to see myself more clearly. I'm feeling suffocated by people, suffocated by my own thoughts, suffocated by the pressures associated with just having to do this or that, because people tell you it's the right thing to do.
Here are some fundamental lies and truths exposed (of so-called "modern living"):
1. Nobody knows shit. Really. If they tell you they know the way, they are bullshitting you. The way is for you to discover, and not for them to tell you what it is.
2. You have to have a family, a great career, a house, the farm, the chicken, the ducks, the whole wackamazoo...to feel happy. Truth is, before you know it, you'll be swimming in a lot of chicken shit, and you will still not have discovered true happiness.
3. Everybody has their weakest link - a point of insecurity by which you can pull them down. But then that would be an insult to humanity. It would be inhuman because it is the one aspect which connects all of us irrespective of how accomplished we are in life, how popular, or beautiful...we all have an Achilles heel. But instead of bringing the other person down, we have to cultivate an attitude of understanding. Did it sting? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to brush your wound. Understand and walk away, don't stand there allowing them to hurt you further, because an insecure person can also be a dangerous person, dangerous to your feelings that is.
4. Everybody knows that deep inside of it all, they are empty. Remember The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger?:
"I have a feeling that you're riding for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall. But I don't honestly know what kind.... It may be the kind where, at the age of thirty, you sit in some bar hating everybody who comes in looking as if he might have played football in college. Then again, you may pick up just enough education to hate people who say, 'It's a secret between he and I.' Or you may end up in some business office, throwing paper clips at the nearest stenographer. I just don't know."
"This fall I think you're riding for - it's a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement's designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn't supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started."
~ Chapter 24, spoken by the character Mr. Antolini
Why is everybody pretending so much? Do you know just how easy it is to tell somebody (it could even be the head of your country) - you are worthless, your life is worthless, and do you know just how quickly they would be prepared to believe you? There are so few among us who believe their life has this strong purpose and they were meant to do something incredible. Anything which you undertake to do solely for yourself (or your ego, to be more specific) or your progeny is bound to be an egotistical exercise which doesn't give you very much satisfaction at the end of sixty years of your life. So admit it, be honest to yourself, and say it with me - we are all completely worthless! The only worthy act in the world is to love, and to love completely - it is all we are useful for. We are all walking around with a vacuum, and instead of filling it up with junk, we can accept it as our natural phenomenon, and go on to do what we can do best - love.
5. Do everything chronologically - be raised (conditioned) by your parents and teachers, educated by an ignorant society and by an even more ignorant formal educational system, find a job, have a family, have children, grow old, contract diabetes, you know the rest of the story. Well, it's all bullshit - don't you have a mind of your own? Did you ever think that it might be a good idea to do the thinking yourself? You know what society teaches you? It teaches you to be lazy. It teaches you, that if you do not break away from the mold, you will be punished. That is what you are conditioned with from childhood - you deviate, you will get slapped, you do something in a different manner, you're a freak...now it's time to set the records straight. All your life, you have been told what to do. What is the good thing, what is the right thing. At some point, if you truly think about it, you have to make a decision, to break away. Don't do what they tell you is good for you - do only what will really make you happy - the kind of happiness that comes from the deepest part of you - only you know what is truly good and right for you.
So have the courage...Fly!
6. The best thing in life happens to you when you least plan for it. It comes from a place of borderless innocence and wide-eyed surprise.
I don't even know what I was running for - I guess I just felt like it.
~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 1
Now I have to follow my own advice. For the first time in my life, I realise I'm an adult. My parents are not stopping me, society does not stop me. There are absolutely no barriers, and if there are any, they are only in my mind. For the first time in my life, I have to make the decisions myself, for myself. And it is so scary. The scariest thought on earth in fact. That I am completely responsible for my own upbringing and my choices from here on. I'm on my own. The real question is - what the heck do I do? Which is the way? This is my life, and there is no beaten path for me to follow. I have to chart my own course...draw my own map, and follow my own directions. Crazy, I wish I was better prepared for this moment. Dealing with uncertainty should be a habit, a way of life, instead it is something you think about only when you actually leave home...and some don't even get to that point where they have to think for themselves. We are so busy building our good fences that we never realise we are only trapping ourselves with the certainty wall we are so carefully building to protect ourselves.
Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho
'We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
- Tennyson, Ulysses

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