Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Road

"I went for many reasons and none all the same."

Why should I embark on a trip where the destinations are superfluous and not the purpose of the trip? Or as is more often simply put to me, "Why on earth are you doing this?". The question itself belies a perspective that I have found is the obstacle in the way of understanding. "What do you want to get out of this?" It is the perspective that puts emphasis on the ends gained, specifically in ends that are some kind of monetary reward or professional advancement.

Nothing. Actually, it's the opposite of gaining something out of this. I want to lose something out of this.

I left Jacksonville Beach on August 2nd, having tied up (most) loose ends and with my car packed full of a second load of my remaining personal belongings. I was leaving behind a life and hopefully a lifestyle. A house I had lived in for the first three years of my young professional life, a "good" job, friends, girlfriend, and most possessions. Those three years and the experiences that came with that way of life weren't all that bad. When you are 25, have established yourself professionally, gained close friends and a significant other with whom you can confide in, as well as enjoy the time spent, and done so without sacrificing too much financially, you would normally consider yourself "happy". A caveat to this point that I should now make clear is that this this is a generally agreed upon conception of the "good life" by those in the working-middle class.. The formula for happiness is pretty simple: Use the resources given to you by your family and work hard for yourself to earn a nice, comfortable life that's just a little better than the generation before you. A time honored tradition, one might say. Of course to mean comfortable is to fill your life with the material, social, and spiritual comforts that you were brought up with, except just enhance them. Buy nicer things, befriend established and respectable people, and be a great Christian. A little experimentation with this plan is okay and even revered, so long as the plan isn't challenged in totality and on its merits.

So, many, including myself, thought I had things pretty damn good. Actually, I had finally come upon the aforementioned lifestyle, which I bought into and sought in previous years. Why would I give it all up now that I was on the path?

I want to rid myself, or at least suspend, that way of thinking. The big purpose, the why the hell I am doing it, is to exist on the margins of the socioeconomic system and my current place in it. I am letting go (admittedly maybe only temporarily) of my position in the middle class. Maybe the cynical way of putting it: I am actually embodying a middle class rite of passage...I am taking a vacation! A vacation from the middle class. Nonetheless, I am challenging myself to give up a way of living and the comfortable habits that go with it and fashion a new lifestyle for myself. A reconstruction of the structure and contents of my daily existence to strip away the habits of my being to continue to figure out just who the hell I am at some existential core.

Upon leaving Jax Beach, with one of the toughest goodbyes ("see you later") I have had to say in my rearview, my existence fused with a dream, fantasy, plan that I had been concocting for some time. I had officially left behind a lifestyle. Social and professional position, along with the obligatory daily habits associated with, as well as my physical environment and the interplay that exists between a creature and its environment. Poof. Gone. To be fair, I was on the portion of my trip which gave me some pretty soft landings. So I was riding a nice wave of euphoria and the ego-pleasing pats on the back that comes with taking risks and setting out on something new, where the change itself is viewed as an accomplishment, and where you have yet to encounter the serious challenges that come with significant change. Yeah, those first several hours were fantastic. Jamming out to my favorite songs, windows down, feeling a self-righteous rebelliousness that pushed me onward through much of that first leg of the trip through rural Georgia and South Carolina. But I was apprehensively aware of the letdowns, setbacks, and general ennui that would certainly come my way. I wanted to hold on to the high spirits that buoyed me. But deep and persistent is the suffering for those who resist the natural pulse coursing through life which we know as change.

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