I don’t know if I’ll try to answer that question. But I do know this: Watch both Zeitgeist movies, a few choice TED videos, and finish it off with the Story of Stuff and you might just say, “Brother, it sure as hell ain’t this!” And then depression sets in…
In my study of gerbils I have pondered mysteries both great and deep.
For Abyss newbies:
“Gerbil” is the term I have coined for younglings that fail to empty nest on schedule. And then, later, when they belatedly emerge from the nest sans high school diploma and any discernable life plan, they do things like go on food stamps, obtain medical marijuana cards (sore back), drink lots of alcohol, sleep until 5pm, stay up until 5am, take pictures of themselves smoking and post them on Facebook, and avoid jobs, school and self-improvement at all costs.
That’s the modern genus of gerbil that I am familiar with.
A Rush song famously said, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Indeed. The modern gerbil lifestyle is a choice!
I took a gerbil aside one day and offered words that I thought, in my hubris, might somehow be wise.
Trust me on this. It ain’t easy coming back from a gerbil bite.
“Look,” I said. “I get it. I was once you. It takes one to know one. Once upon a time I too had the kind of life where you could spend a whole week doing nothing but lie in bed, watch the U.S. Open and eat Cheetos.”
I don’t want to pop your bubble but those times can’t last forever. Something has got to give.
If you don’t want to clean yourself up, get a traditional 9 to 5, and spend your life working for The Man while trapped on an endless wheel, I get that. Hell, I respect that. I’m trapped on that wheel myself and I think it sucks ass. I understand you, gerbil. More than you’ll ever know.
If you want to reject that paradigm you’ll have my support. I grok. The only caveat is that you do … something. Sitting on your ass, mooching off your friends, and living life as a half-baked organism only gets you so far.
You don’t want a job? Fine. Come up with a viable new life path. That’s all I ask.
What might such a hypothetical alternative life path look like? I have no bloody idea. But I do believe it should contain elements of growth, learning, utilizing your potential, well being, happiness and contentment. And if you want to be truly advanced, you can even incorporate giving something back and doing well by others, to have some sense of being beneficial in a societal context.
The gerbil just shrugged, said, “Whatever,” and left to look for his next hit and/or find a sofa for a 24-hour nap.
Seriously, though. As a middle-aged American stuck in a dead-end job, working for a moronic asshole who converts your labor into his own profits while keeping you under his boot heel, acting as another mindless cog in a useless wheel, what are you life path options?
What choices do you really have?
Maybe my thoughts are normal. Maybe this is midlife crisis kind of stuff. But I find myself thinking about chucking the whole deal, leaving it all behind for something else. I just have no idea what that something else could possibly be?
Move to the Arctic, build an igloo and live on whale blubber? I’d love to be off the grid but I’m decidedly not the Man vs. Wild type. I can’t hop into the nearest forest and go all Rambo and shit.
Backpack Europe and teach English as a means of paying my way? That sounds crazy wild. I don’t know if I have it in me.
Be the oldest recruit e-v-a-r in the Peace Corps? That might be too much change.
Convert to Buddism and become a monk? Again, too radical a shift. The cons would likely outweigh the pros.
Someone help me out here. If you want to get out of the rat race, what options do we really have? What other life paths exist? I’d really like to know.
And I guess I will attempt to answer the big question after all. “What do you want out of life?” To live in peace with my wife and cats, to maximize good experiences and minimize the bad, clean air, fresh water, enough food, a little peace of the Earth set aside just for us, with as much time as possible where we can do as we wish and not be under the direct control of others.
What about you? What do you want out of life? What choices do you still see as possible?