This is the first in a new series of existential, philosophical ponderings, A WORD TO THE WHY(s).
I met today in real life a person with whom all prior contact had been via social media. In the middle of the conversation, this sort of “getting to know you” festival of background, biographical anecdote, and sound bite philosophizing, I said that long around mid-life crisis number two I had come to the conclusion that working endless hours every week to the exclusion of having a real life was not going to lead to fame, riches, or happiness, and thus, if I was in all likelihood going to end up unknown, poor, and sad no matter the efforts I made to fit in to the capitalist/male privilege culture American Dream, better I should work less and at least read some of the books I wanted to along the way to ending up on the street.
And I’m right. Who is it that determined a full-time job and a mortgage and a nuclear family and all that other stuff we quantify as “success” in this culture really constitute “success”? Why? Why shouldn’t I spend my days reading and writing and philosophizing in Starbucks? What makes that any less valuable a contribution to the world than the years I spent sick worrying over one or another job?
I understand that this view deeply offends or appalls many, and, for the most part, I have winnowed my collection of acquaintances to a small circle of loved ones who don’t judge me for my title, my bank account, or how many hours a week I do the equivalent of ditch digging, but, rather, honor me for who I am.
Those people who also ask “WHY” to everything. It’s time, I think, we all did more “why”-ing, instead of being kept SO BUSY running around trying to color in the lines of pictures that really hold no interest for us at all. Let’s tear up the coloring books and make of our lives our own expressionist works of art.
I am tired of being afraid every damn day that I have — somehow — failed at what I was supposed to be or do or — whatever myriad leftover Catholic guilt thing I feel from one day to the next —
I am, hereby, making a vow: I will see myself as the ideal flawed fabulous creation I am, with an inalienable right to do and be what feels true and right to my soul, without regard to the outlines society or anyone else would LIKE to impose upon me.
I’m Charlie. You can find me at a Starbucks. Or here. Where I am. Growing. And asking, “Why?”