"Taking himself seriously, so you don't have to."

Matters At Hand

Alright, so what do I have to offer? Many things, I think. They’ve been enumerated upon. To discuss them here is quite counterproductive, however. To advance them – that’s the only way to deal. A better question: why must I give anything anyway?

I’m reminded: “It doesn’t matter”. Again, I hear the trope, repeated in the lines of rock music. Oh yes! Sure. Let’s all hear that, let’s all take it in. Let’s all accept that as the inevitable endgame to our lives lost of dream, burnt-out living toward the goal of BEING SOMEBODY. Rising above the masses, when they’d most like to tear you down. And when they do, as it happens to individuals and it happens to movements (as in the late 60′s), and there comes this malaise, this acceptance of loss, of failure, there we were with the same genre that helped propel that movement onto the main-stage of the world; there we were, with that same music, but a different message: consolation.

And still it continues. It’s not defined by age or generation or gender; it’s defined by our individuality, which has hit grand heights as of late, spurning us on to make idiots of ourselves for the shear… egoism of it? So we can continue to enjoy that other music that makes us hope and long and dream that the highest heights are indeed reachable so long as you sell your soul or make a fool of yourself.

The message has continued. The most popular (those WITH a message) repeat it for the individual, the starstruck dreamer who realizes he is either incapable of making waves or he’s already too deep to start one; or he… well… he has “accepted” that “it doesn’t matter”. He has accepted that HE “doesn’t matter”.

His consolation? That he can serve a few people or make a product or talk with a few folks; that he can live his life without worry for his grander implications, that the tiny space he has been given was indeed sufficient, and that rather than changing things or working toward a better world or accepting a responsibility larger than that tiny space he’s been delegated, guess what? He can live his life how he wants! He can ignore anything and everything anyone says about him! He can push the responsibility for the larger things back to the larger society from when they (and his condition) came. He can indulge, or not, exhaust himself or laze about. Life is a roller-coaster ride and he’s the driver! He can even write a book or make a painting or a movie or build a skyscraper or a monument. But wait… those things are hard and there are bigger people who can do it better anyway. And besides, “it doesn’t matter”. “Phew!” he says, “that was close!”

Back to his rock music, pop music he goes. Back to the realm of short, sweet, digestible, every-man identification, back to his established philosophy that made him so damn happy! How could there be anything wrong with that? Was it not purported to be the goal of western philosophy? Socrates, “All for that man be happy”. But that “that” is of extreme importance. At present, society is not happy and individuals are all over the map. Your individual happiness does not allow that society deteriorate. No one will be happy when everyone’s dead.

But yet he holds to Socrates’ backhanded point: “He’s right, yes!” he says, “I should be happy with what I have.”

Now come, and join me for a look through the eyes of omniscience, and follow the many paths of one man, who on one particular day, so much like any other, he not only steps into a foreign philosophy, but in addition, straight into the Twilight Zone.

It began on a Monday. Another day in the cubicle, taking phone calls, chatting with the fellows in the break room. He was irritated. Something gnawing at him. A bleak future, perhaps? The realization that THIS will be as far as he gets. Two years into the job and it finally hits him. Growing in intensity with every revolution of the ceiling fan. *fwup-fwup-fwup-fwup-fwup-fwup*  A co-worker stops by his station and asks whether he’ll be at her birthday party in two month’s time. “I don’t know, maybe,” he says. “But I’m free tonight, wanna hang out?” She is stunned, but comes with a quick response, “But it’s Monday!” She shakes her head at him, chuckling, and walks off. He looks at the clock. 15 minutes til he’s off. He holds his head in his hands until the alarm he’d set sounds.

On his commute back, he hears a song. The refrain, “It doesn’t matter”. A chord strikes. Something snaps. He stops alongside the road and jumps into a torrential rain. “It doesn’t matter!” he yells at the passing traffic. The cars and the falling rain slows, little by little, until the world finally stops, frozen in time.

There’s an angel or his future self or an alien or something, and who finally gets through to him after much incredulity, blah blah blah, and shows him four paths his life may take:

Option 1.) Worker Bee

This man has found that his greater aspirations are unimportant, impossible, or beyond his abilities. Comfort and happiness become the new ultimate goal, so he continues with his job. Years later he finds a woman or a man who shares his vision of comfort, acceptance of station, mild affluence, and diversion of responsibility to the higher-ups. His bosses are horrible people, but he does not see the irony. He and his partner conceive children through some or other method, and they grow up to take on his values. And he celebrates all federal holidays, as required by law.

Option 2.) Traveler

This man quits his job immediately, clears out his savings, and hits the road. He has a car, but it doesn’t last long. Problem with the transmission or something. $4000 repair bill he cannot pay. Trades it in for pennies. No problem. He buys a bicycle, and he still has his savings. He rides to Portland, Oregon. Finds thousands of people doing the same thing. Rides along the West coast, adventures all in tow. He has the time of his life. Then savings run out. He’s 26 years old in the Sierra Nevada mountains at the time. Hires onto plant trees. Back-breaking work; he’s intensely glad he got away, but now he’s missing his cushy office job. Two years later, he returns to where he came from: broken, bleeding, with only the clothes on his back, but smiling. He crashes at a friend’s house until he gets a job interview. Job comes through; the same one he left. Now, he “accepts”. And comfort makes its presence known. He ultimately resembles the Worker Bee, but with incredible memories. (It takes an incredible amount of fortitude and ingenuity to consistently survive as a traveler. Some certainly can, but it is not many, and this is the more likely scenario)

Option 3.) Deadbeat

He quits his job immediately, calling it unnecessary. He lives off what savings he has for a meager period, doing nothing in the meanwhile. When his money runs out, he asks for help from friends. When they begin to turn him away for the truth, he begins inventing lies: they fired me because I was too good. I just need a place to crash a couple days and I’ll be back on my feet. Don’t worry, I’ll get you back for it. I’ve got this new project I’m working on. You want in? It’s been tough, I just need to chill out a while. I’ll get it back, I promise! You’re gonna regret this dude. I don’t have any money, can I stay anyway? He might even believe himself when he says them, but underlying the whole charade, “It doesn’t matter”. 2 years later: do you have any change? Oh yeah, the soup kitchen is open from 4-7. It’s rough out on the streets, thanks for the help! God damn, how am I gonna make this feel better?

Option #4:) Criminal

He stays in his job, calculating that it is to his best advantage. He watches the people around him closely. And when they see me, who do they see? He accepts a persona. He calculates what he can get away with. Brianna is pretty hot, and she’s real shy. He drugs her on a night out and puts all the blame on her. Afterward, he leverages his standing with her to get favored for a higher position in the company. He fires Brianna. Later, he circulates rumors about his new boss, saying that he saw him with the cleaning lady. It doesn’t work. He plants drugs in his boss’s desk. Doesn’t work either. He befriends him, and eventually blackmails him over some drunken confession. He pockets the money and proceeds to get him fired anyway. Taking the new open position, he reasons that further, sooner actions might get him found out. He spends his energy high-flying at the most expensive joints in town, grand-standing and taking all advantage he may with dollar signs. Years later, as the idea crops up yet again, where his advantage might best be utilized, he embezzles funds and uses them to embarrass a member of the board with a transexual prostitute. Unfortunately, the prostitute outs him, something about “personal integrity”, the bitch. He is not only fired but fined for “breach of contract”, then imprisoned for “blackmail”, “malfeasance”, and “crimes against humanity”. His sentence is 2 ½ years. He gets conjugal visits.

SO, says the angel/alien/future-self, “What’s it going to be?” He thinks for some time. The Worker Bee is probably the most responsible, but I could get there just as well with the Traveler, and it’d be more fun. I’ll be the traveler!

“No, no, no,” says angel/alien/future-self/leprechaun/Loch Ness monster. “Don’t you understand that you must believe that it all matters?”

But oh! It is such a free way to live! To care not, to do what you will. It’s almost… romantic.

I can understand the consolation. And who does not need some? The grandeur of our dreams alone imply the necessity to assuage the multitude that cannot attain those highest of heights limited to the few who may fit upon them. Some consolation must be given, but only to those incapable, only to those with the effort and will to say, “this world does matter”, that at the end of their exertions, which should only rightly be death, consolation be given for those who “did to their absolute best”. Besides them, those dead and gone or lost or disabled, it is undeserved. And for those who believe “it doesn’t matter”, I know not why they even require consolation. Does it not count for nothing at that point anyway? Combine this with Christianity’s way of absolving all sins and people will never, ever actually give a shit about anything.

The truth is that it does matter, what we do in this world makes a difference. Every word, every blink, every step, every twist of the frame adjust in incredible ways the world to be. Chaos theory can tell you as much. This does engender trepitude, however, causing some to step lightly.

So now we return to the original question: why offer anything at all?

To the best of my abilities to discern, indeed, that I have abilities, that I have something to offer, there is no choice. Either one accepts that “nothing matters” and fall within these probable futures, or say that they do matter, and accept the duty as one that brings offerings.

To accept anything otherwise is to believe that “it doesn’t matter”. And I will not.

One Comment

  1. At last! Someone with real exsretipe gives us the answer. Thanks!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>