While glorifying my image in the spirit of the Creator, things got a little hazy. I didn’t give two shits about work, and I didn’t care about money. I wanted peace, god damnit. And I wanted to cultivate my own dreams and desires, no matter how much capital I pissed into the bars and hands of dealers during my early adulthood. In doing so, I tainted my own spirit for the person I was to become in the future.
And this says a lot about me. It means that I was a totally immature brat. I was a drunk, a drug-addict, and I was further from the likes of god than I could possibly get, without committing some eternal sin that would burn and brandish my soul with doubt for the rest of my earthly existence.
Then I began to change. I started to see things as they really were. Commercialism seemed to be everywhere. And also I felt like I was falling away from my friends. From everyone, really. I went from job to job to job. Drifting like a floating spirit, without any ideals or endeavors other than daily survival.
It became clear to me that most of the people around me -- my parents included -- were just living to survive. Maybe there were a few enjoyments over the weekend. Say a trip to a restaurant for a nice dinner, where my mother and father could enjoy each other’s company, if only for a few fleeting moments. Because, I’m sure, the bill would come, and that most certainly would pop the romantic bubble that festooned god’s grace upon their table of food and drink.
- What had happened to their youth?
They’d probably deny this if I shouted down from their rooftop, which I am hyperbolically wont to do in their presence, never leaving any stone unturned -- but I would challenge that they were drawn into the rapid spinning of our “free markets.” Kept so busy with the mortgage, car payments, endless utility bills, and four growing boys that frosted their teenage years with inchoate misery, depression, hyperactivity, mixed with wild and irresponsible behavior, I believe that my parents lost themselves in the flux of just trying to survive, as husband and wife, as people.
My father always said something to me while I was growing up that never left my head. Other than: “I’ll tell you when you’re older,” or “Just breathe, Bry. Breathe. You’re getting yourself all worked up…” He repeated the slogan, that if I worked hard enough good things would come.
But my father -- as much as I look up to him as one of the very few men which I know -- has probably never opened or studied an economics book; he’s clueless about psychology; and he knows nothing about the other side of politics that they don’t address on the evening newscasts. However, he is waking up to certain facts, due to the mushrooming faculties and technological advances of cell phones and the Internet.
But what if, as a kid, he was able to have an iPhone? Would his level of understanding about the world flourish in his youth, as it is now that he is truly becoming my “old man?”
What I am getting at is this: when do we look to our elders and see where they have failed? How often do we learn from their mistakes?
I’d venture to say, not very often. Because we are following in their footsteps, although with a more modern sense of fashion. Bellbottoms and disco balls aside, can we really compare ourselves to our forebears?
Today’s world is vastly different than what it was when our parents were hip on Saturday Night Fever. So much of the industrial wealth upon which an Empire was erected has been shipped overseas -- where labor is cheap and laws are much more lax.
My father would say to me, if I broached this subject in defense of my wandering and, at times, in-between-jobs, transitional spirit, that this has been happening for years; that the middle-class of our country is being decimated because of a handful of pimp-like politicians and their greedy corporate sponsors. And my response to my father would be thus: that this is a New World being developed right before our eyes.
And I would also tell him that I don’t believe in his theory that working hard will get you the results you deserve and expect. Not always. No, I would go on an economics tirade about the cost-of-living rising in an absurdly adverse ratio to mean income.
Then he would probably tell me that I never knew when to shut my mouth. (Of course, this is a good reason why I never opened it. But that’s another story.)
In reality, though, are we really living and working for the lives that we were meant to live? Or are we merely surviving in an economic crystal ball that can be shattered at any moment we fall victim to sudden illness, terrible weather, wars, a bad week, or a mental breakdown that stymies all emotional functioning?
- Who the hell knows?
What really matters is the asking of these questions and then standing by our convictions. Our parents, supposedly, were meant to give us a better world. So that we could enjoy our lives to the fullest. The potential of future generations was built on the backs of our ancestry.
Why, then, does our money go so quickly, if there is so much more in circulation? And what decides what we do with our time, here, on this planet teetering on the brink of total financial degradation?
I doubt my father has the answer to that.
But it’s a strange feeling, to look him in the eyes and to wonder what he could have been, if he hadn’t been assimilated into a role, just to survive.
I guess that’s just the way that it works. That it takes us years to realise who we are, and what we were meant to do with our lives.
Sometimes I feel that my father was meant to be just that. And if that’s the case, I couldn’t have asked for a better dad.
However, I can’t accept him as a truck-driver. I don’t see him that way at all.
I see him as a man who was put against the world, and as he held up both his fists, there never seemed to be an end to the jabs and blows that the world sent in his direction. If this sufficed to build his character, I just have to wonder in the opposite direction who he would have been, had he not suffered the plight of growing up in a world that changed him more than the other way around.
For me, that is the only way to live. To change, and to leave our mark on society. To shape it into something better for future generations; to evolve and to prove to ourselves that our time is worthwhile and that we were meant to thrive and experience paradise, here on earth. Not merely just to eke out a living, or even to profit and plunder.
So many times I have looked at my father and I’ve seen something else entirely: the hell with which he has had to deal … and how deeply it has burned into his soul. Of course, he is, and always will be, a greater man than I. In his old age (sorry) he has adapted his abilities to suffer the brunt of every hurdle with much more stability and reserve than I could ever hope for.
See, I’m like my mother. And she knows and considers, like most women do, what her life could have been, if only….
Yes, I can’t seem to close the window on that querulous and inquisitive spirit of the sensitive and anxious mind.
But then it passes. And we accept our lives, our jobs, our careers and our relationships, for what they are. Not what they could have been.
So maybe I am like my brother, too. Trapped with the conundrum so forcefully ingrained and tattooed on his middle-back:
Are These Our Lives?