Thursday, April 29, 2010
How would you even know if the air you breathed did nothing to keep you alive? What if it was simply a slow, slow way to die? You assume that since you live and since life doesn't hurt so badly, that everything must be, OK. I'm here to tell you that it's not.
College asphyxiates most. There are maybe 50,000 students at NYU. That's almost enough to fill the vast interior of Yankee Stadium. Each one of those students is asked to pay a mid-size luxury car every year for enrollment. Some have the costs defrayed by scholarships and grants. What do students who pay this obscene amount of money do when they get to college? What excites them? For most of them it's free waffle nights. Drinking parties. Discounts to baseball games and Broadway. Having a piece of paper with their name and a school name at the end of 4 years. Living in New York City. Pathetic. Inexcusably pathetic.
You know what's worse? Parents rejoice when their kids get sent there. Parents think that this is a good investment of what may amount to a quarter million dollars. Have you ever thought about not going to college as a good thing? To my mind only a single person stands out. The others who've not gone to college have felt like failures or society's degenerates. Those who have gone to college feel like they've made some great accomplishment. And why is that? What standard is being used to judge success and failure?
In my experience, the overwhelming majority of the human herd lives to avoid failure. It is too scary to step outside the lines of normal and search for your own path. It's better just to follow the other lemmings. If everyone's doing it, it can't be wrong, can it? It's safest in a group. Others can give me advice. I include myself in that category. If I had more confidence in my writing, I'd quit my job and set out to be a writer. I'd produce fun action stories that would entertain. I love experimenting with different ideas. I'm completely in love with the way Murakami integrates Japanese mythology into the present world. More, and I hate to use this word, realistically, I know I'm not very good yet so I practice on the side. I'd only really step out onto the water once I see that this living is sustainable. I'm a coward who's trying to have it both ways and I hate that about myself.
But I'm working at it. Slowly but surely, I'm un-learning so much of the trash I've taken in throughout my life. Step by step, I want to refine my mind and purge the idea that what is is what should be.
This is one reason why I love the act of teaching and the thought of raising kids. I want to expose the framework of the reality others give them. I want to put the choice firmly in their hands of what they'll do with reality. They can follow society and live for retirement out of a fear that the last few years before death will be uncomfortable (and they do that by ensuring that the majority of their life is miserable, working a job they don't like for people they barely tolerate to give the money to kids who are strangers) or they can have life now. They can ask the question of joy.
Where can joy be found?
In the end, isn't it shameful that asking this question in an ethical sense of "How shall I live my life?" is a daring question? Yes, yes I think it is. To hell with normal. Live your life.