Manifesto (I Guess I Was Writing It All Along)

As surprising as it may sound, I've never written down a manifesto for myself.  I know, I was surprised, too.

Last week, in a flash of inspiration fueled by several months of frustration, I started typing a Facebook status.  My wife called it "the obituary of the man of my dreams."

The hive mind requires that everyone fit into a tiny box of its design, created to minimize the risks of individual thought and a marginalization of creativity. 

It is compelling to justify one's participation in this machinery as individual thought and creativity are both dangerous to the hive and participation provides the rewards of reasonable amounts of kibble and a slightly more solid footing in the monied dogma. 

Most will comply - it's easier and they have rent to pay. And, for many, on their deathbeds, they will look back upon their time on the Earth and see their life as a spreadsheet. The myth of individualism will be exposed for the absurd joke it has become but it will be too late to reverse the course. Many have convinced themselves that this is best box to be in and decorate the box with expressions of a person long since rendered soulless to convince themselves of their own existence.

Those who refuse to comply will be labeled as
• subversive
• anti-social
• uncooperative
• insane

Those who refuse may not change the world any more than a single blade of grass can change the direction of the wind but there is art and beauty in the defiance. And on their deathbeds, in lieu of a spreadsheet, they will hear music and poetry.

To add to this manifesto (for lack of calling it anything else):

23.  Remember that movie about the guy or girl in an office job he or she hates, stuck in a rut of orderly existence until that crazy, chaotic other person blows into his or her life by chance and forces him or her to confront the mundanity of existence living within the boundaries of a 9 to 5 gig and taking him or her on an adventure filled with twists and turns and unexpected challenges and they smash the walls of his or her carefully constructed glass house to reveal what truly being alive means? Yeah. Me, too.

5.  Jack had played by the rules his whole life.  He worked hard in high school and graduated in the top of his class.  He got a scholarship to a solid State College and got his degree.  He met a woman, fell in love, got married, had a kid.  He interviewed and was quickly hired for a prestigious job that paid a bit above the average.  He and his wife bought a house, had two cars.  Jack was "in control" of things.  He paid his taxes on time, he paid his bills on time, he was living the American Dream.

As his son grew, things became a bit more expensive, what with the two cars and health care and school supplies and food for a growing boy so Jack decided to take out a mortgage on his home.  He filled out all the paperwork and arranged to make regular payments and the whole family took a vacation to Disneyworld.

And, then one day, the bank decided to foreclose on his house and evict his family.

"What the fuck?" cried Jack in disbelief.  The bank was obviously wrong but refused to admit it - in the meantime, Jack and his family moved in with his brother who then decided that Jack's wife was a hot piece of ass (the MILF label apparently fit).  Jack's wife divorced him and Jack, in his despair, managed to lose his job due to his living on the inside of a glass bottle of Scotch for a month.

As his liver started to fail, he checked himself into a neighborhood clinic (which was all he could afford) and one night, looked up in the darkness and moaned out "Why?  I had things under control.  I did every right.  I was an upstanding citizen and a sound businessman.  I played by the rules.  Why am I here now?"

"Control is an illusion, buddy.  We build houses on fault lines and on beachfronts and then wonder what happened when nature decides to crush them or blow them away.  We place our faith in institutions that do not, cannot, have our interest in mind and blow a gasket when it becomes known that we were just grist for their particular profit driven mill.  We think that if we fall in line, keep our heads down, and live an orderly life that we'll live forever and then chaos strikes and we can't fathom it.

Control?  Order?  Just constructs we create to explain the unexplainable. To ward away the fact that each one of us is fucking tiny in the grand scope of things.  Order is abstract; Chaos is concrete. Order exists to help the godless in a world that had to make god up to explain why droughts happen."

"Who are you?"

"I'm the antithesis of everything Hallmark Cards and horseshit optimism.  I'm the Truth, baby."

1.  In the late nineties, a Chicago woman was walking down Wabash holding her child's hand. 40 floors above her, on the Wabash side of the CNR building, a loose window gently slid from it's frame and fell, like a heavy feather of glass.

The woman didn't see it coming. She was decapitated in an instant.

I wonder what her thoughts were in her final seconds. Death was instantaneous and she didn't see it coming. I suspect, like most of us, she was worried about bills or petty slights at the office or the dishes that needed to be done. I suspect she was thinking about keeping her life in control. Just like the rest of us.

And I'm reminded that control is a diversion. Control is an attempt to make sense of things that simply defy rationality. And, while trying to make the world and the billions of people and creatures and nature conform to our own safety bubble is commendable, it is much like commending Sisyphus for continuing to roll that fucking boulder up that fucking hill over and over again.

I'd tell Sisyphus to leave the goddamn boulder and go live his life while the plate glass is still secure. 

I Believe...

I Believe...

Thoughts from Smarter People Than I