Friday, December 25, 2009

The Promised World: A Christmas reflection on custies, the year 2009, and fun

A recent public radio segment invited listeners to weigh in with their views on the changes the past decade has brought. The discussion shifted from 9/11 to Barack Obama to Facebook, but it wasn’t until a caller named Chris from Massachusetts decided to offer his perspective that I perked up. Chris explained that he had entered high school at the beginning of the double-zeros, worked hard, and gone to a good college, from which he had recently commenced himself. Yet he was having a hard time finding a job and generally navigating a landscape that was radically different from the one for which he had been preparing all these years. “Where…” bemoaned a bewildered Chris, “but where is the world you promised us?” Chris’ plight is not unfamiliar to me. One year out of college, I am back in my old bedroom in my parents’ house, working as a store clerk for a little over minimum wage, and bussing at a restaurant on the weekends. Sounds pretty bleak, right? Where, I might ask, is the salaried, benefits-included job that is supposed to be putting to use the many products of my elite liberal arts education? Where is my small but cozy apartment in a recently gentrified neighborhood? Where is the certainty that if I work hard I will get a raise, a better job, a purpose in life? Where, oh where, is the world that was promised to me? This train of thought has played through my head several times in the past year, and I have continuously come to a very important realization: the question we are asking is not only absurd, it is very wrong. It exemplifies everything I detest about that “promised world”: the sense of entitlement, the protestant work ethic, and most of all, the idea that the world “should” remain the same. Let’s just examine, for one moment, the remains of that which continues to crumble before our eyes. Was it really so desirable? Of course not! It is a world dominated by kraut, with their kraut aesthetic and kraut values (for details, please refer to Anastassia’s very thoughtful essay on the subject of kraut). Yet when we were presented with this single map, directing us on the path to becoming an “adult”, we came to rely on it as a definitive truth, a manual of sorts for living life. Rather than learning how to adapt, we learned how to get good grades. Instead of dreaming up the millions of different ways we might live our lives, we perfected our resumes and refined our business casual wardrobes (ok, I’m exaggerating, I never really put that much effort into my non-bondage wardrobe). My point isn’t that these are useless or unworthy pursuits, but that the emphasis on such skills has decreased rather than increased our flexibility. The fluctuations we have seen in the past decade are nothing compared to the changes we will see in the future. Our world is changing rapidly, and it is going to take all of our creative powers combined to adapt ourselves. This is serious shit. But does it have to be? In the past year as a wanderer, an unemployment statistic, a raver, a wife, a minimum wage employee, and a warrior, I have realized two very important things. First, it is the relationships I cultivate that give me joy, and as long as I make most of my life decisions around the need to build community, I am happy. The second is even simpler, and it is this: life is supposed to be fun. I know, we can’t control the family we come from, the country we’re born in, life, death, war, etc. But a lot of the un-fun things that we think we have to do are really just a trick. They’re a trick to make us into custies, to perpetuate that failed world we worked so hard to become a part of, and that world is collapsing not only because it is run by kraut. It is failing because it is NO FUN. The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems that “what do you do for fun?” is a legitimate question. Why is fun confined to weekends and holidays? Why should I not, instead of bemoaning my lack of “real” employment opportunities, revel in my daily activities? I chat with customers and co-workers, take pleasure in serving someone a beautiful plate of food. Cleaning my house isn’t a boring chore, it is an act that improves my surroundings, boosting my mood. Most of all, every interaction with my friends, family, or even strangers is real, interesting or humorous – even the difficult ones. Once you get into the habit of being fun all the time, it’s hard to stop. The possibilities spiral ever upwards; they branch outwards and grow deeper like roots. For instance, if I like gardening, why not spend time cultivating my own food? Each hour spent working is also an hour spent playing in the dirt, AND it’s one hour less that I have to work for a paycheck to feed myself. Perhaps I have a friend who does not like farming, but loves to produce music. Doesn’t trading tomatoes for dubstep sound a cuss of a lot more fun than buying each one from Hannafords or Itunes? I recently hung out with some friends who showed me a gallon of maple syrup they had traded for a certain homegrown crop. “Green for gold,” they said, with grins on their faces. So what am I proposing? That we teach ourselves to be flexible. That we learn to adapt to a changing world, hopefully before it’s too late. We need to stop asking where our promised world is, because we can create a world (a funhouse, perhaps?) that is better, more just, and infinitely more fun (especially since we’ve freed up all that time by not going into I-banking). On a more personal note, I would like to say that I have so much fun because I have such an amazing extended community of people to play with. You guys are my motivation, my inspiration, and the reason why I get up in the morning – be you best friend, lover, brother, or casual acquaintance (special shout-out to old and out-of-touch friends – let’s hang out more!). I am incredibly thankful for all of you, and I continue to marvel at each of your minds, talents, and perseverance. Your happiness is my happiness. Which is why I hope that 2010 will be the year when we all hang out more than ever before, have the most fun, and make every day the best day ever. Merry Christmas! All my love, Moriah aka Momo aka Dominatrix Girl aka Wifey aka Mo Lady Face Killah

1 comment:

  1. I love it! Its exactly how i feel! Make life fabulously fun!!