Last night I infiltrated a group of criminals who had some vague plans for crime (go figure). As I worked with them I began to laugh and joke with them and respect them as people. Suddenly my plan to bring them to justice became complicated.I think this is the problem for those who want to “change things from the inside;” to get inside you necessarily have to conform with norms. When and if you finally get into a position where you have influence over the way things are, you have likely become so ingratiated to and dependant on how the way things are that you balk at change.
Essentially, you become “Toruk Makto”
Two evenings ago I attended an alumni mixer for my alma mater. It was a pleasant affair, with free drinks and food. Had I known that being alumni would have such perks (recent alum are also being offered a free course which I will not be able to take advantage of due to travel plans) I would not have taken 7 years to graduate.
-“A lot of people go to college for seven years.”
‘-Yeah, they’re called “doctors” ‘
Although I had fun and met some cool people I kind of felt like an odd man out. Most people there who were my age (26 going on 27) had already not only graduated, but done a post-graduate degree, law school, and/or started a career. In fact, many people a lot younger than me were already finishing up grad school and starting careers. Bearing that in mind I was a little self-conscious when people asked me about myself. Now for the record, I try to ignore social pressure. or the idea that my life should conform to some idea or some schedule, but I can’t help it sometimes; I feel like I have to qualify myself to others for their approval. That said, the people I talked to were not there to impress or outdo each other, as they are in certain engagements I have previously attended, but instead listened attentively without trying to one-up me. It was an unexpected relief, but it was a relief that came with its own set of problems.
While speaking with one gentleman we got on to the topic of me (a field I consider myself an expert in) and through the course of conversation he learned about some of my exploits, works in progress and future plans. He seemed genuinely impressed and said quite earnestly, “wow, you’re like my hero.” As much as I like to be appreciated, I handle it awkwardly sometimes. I kind of just broke eye contact and mumbled something about how the trade-off for an adventure-filled life was being a 26 year-old undergrad with no career to speak of. He reassured me that there was no rush and that given the chance to do things again, he probably would have taken time off like I did to gain some more life experience. As encouraging as it is to hear that someone admires your lifestyle, you still have to wonder why more people don’t do what is apparently so admirable, namely taking their sweet ass time with growing up and getting a real job.*
I don’t think its fear, as that would imply that I am somehow braver than others. Not the case. I can say without exception that the most important adventures I have had in my life have been terrifying for me either for the inherent danger or the abysmal loneliness. (more on loneliness later)
I don’t think its aversion to travelling or adventures either, as most people I talk to seem to view the general idea of “travel” as a universally positive thing.
In a lot of cases, especially among younger folk I think there is a problem with being beholden to someone else for your livelihood. Parents tend to canalize the aspirations of their children and shoehorn them through the path of least resistance so that the children can propagate the cycle of maturity-breeding-dying in an expedient and streamlined manner. And when these parents hold the purse-strings (ps travelling can cost money), the dependant has to play on their terms even if their inclinations are contrary to the the beaten path.
In spite of the allusion to expense I just made, I don’t think that cost is a big deterrent. While travelling can be expensive, it by no means has to be. Certainly adventures can be had on the cheap just by finding a “No Entry” sign and
Everything happens in high-definition beyond the “No-Entry” sign
And let’s be honest, when has cost ever deterred people from pouring money into something with no foreseeable financial return? Dining out, movies, automobiles …. people are well accustomed to dropping money into things that aren’t profitable.
I could continue speculating but ultimately everyone is different and they all have their reasons for what they do or don’t do. Yet whatever it is that deters people from taking the scenic route in life it has left me feeling kind of alienated. As I prepare to go hitch-hiking around the globe this Septober I can’t help but wish I had a travelling companion; someone else with a cavalier attitude toward the daily grind who would take six months to traipse about the globe simply cause it makes good sense.
Why do what most do? Do what you s’poseto…
But instead I am forced to go it alone again.
Getting back to the title of this entry, I have a certain naivete that, while inconvenient, has served me well. Essentially, I take people seriously. When someone has an awesome idea my reaction is typically “let’s make that about to happen.” But depending on how much time and effort the idea will take they will put it off or disavow it completely while I remain enchanted by the prospect and resolved to do it.
Most of my greatest adventures weren’t my ideas.
Compounding this problem is the fact that I am averse to bullshit; If I said I’m going to do it I’m going to do it or at least give it the old college try.
“Your word was everything, so everything you said you’d do, You DID It;
couldn’t talk about it if you ain’t live it”
I am very afraid to go around the world by myself but I am even more afraid to be called out for talking shit. I am most afraid of putting off indefinitely something I want to do because it is inconvenient or dangerous. (that’s a slippery slope) Fear can be a powerful motivator I suppose. But if its my fear that enables me to face my fears then so be it; I’ll go it alone taking what solace I can in the fact that others would have liked to be there with me but they were just too brave.