by Ed’s Apprentice
Everybody thinks about his or her purpose in life. I figure going into their twenties most people think that purpose is pretty significant. However, getting out of their twenties — and I’ll be there soon — I think most people are at least beginning to accept that their purpose might have to be slightly more modest than they had hoped. With only a hint of despair, we all have to accept that we aren’t superheroes. That smirk we once wore, knowing any second would be the moment we would spring in to action and show the world how powerful we really are, is starting to fade. Everybody knows that feeling. It’s why we have anti-depressants, and religion, and booze, and the swimsuit edition, and suicides. It is why we have health-food stores and designer clothes and flat-screen televisions and all that bullshit. It is why we have self-help books.
I hate self-help books. When I was 21 I was dating a woman, although I was convinced she was a goddess. She was super hot and she seemed to have this whole Life thing figured out and it blew me away. She moved through the world with ease and I guess I figured if I latched on to her maybe I could figure out how to do the same. Predictably, because of how attached I got to her, she dumped me. When she did it, she gave me a copy of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Everybody is always trying to convert everybody else to their own way of thinking. She was no exception. For a couple years I was pretty hooked on his writing. Thank god I got over that phase. The Alchemist is 150 or so pages of self-empowerment and spirituality for the masses. It is also a huge stinking load of bullshit. Along with all Coehlo’s other books, which have inspired millions, it is essentially a guide on the use of magical thinking to enrich our lives and wash away that deep-seated feeling of disappointment we all felt when we realized that the world really is this shitty and next year’s iPod is not going to fix that.
Chicks especially dig Coelho’s books. Paulo undoubtedly pulls an astonishing amount of ass for a guy is age, so I’m not going to say he wasn’t well-justified in writing it, but the message is still totally off the mark. The truth is that magical thinking is why we all hate ourselves in the first place.
The magical idea that something can come from nothing is central to our culture. It is how we got here and why we are probably all going to be gone soon. It is completely unnecessary and it has us all completely disoriented. The instructions on how to be good at being human are already programmed into our DNA, but we never learned how to read them because we didn’t have to. We’re like fat stupid babies that grow old and die, never having been weaned. We are just domesticated cattle, we know it, and deep down (or not) we hate it.
To keep people from catching on, we have to be fed a continuous stream of lies forever, and Paulo Coelho came up with a really popular one. But, like all lies, it’s still a lie. I bought his lie for a while, until I came across a different author who preferred to tell the truth. His name was Edward Abbey.
Hallelujah! I cannot describe the burden lifted from my shoulders. The reason I was no good at that whole spirituality thing was because it was really just bullshit all along! The woman who amazed me all those years ago was in fact not enlightened, just overloaded with privilege. The anger I was trying so hard to get rid of, via my mountain of books on various schools of spiritual thought, was not bad karma or proof of my soul being too immature to let God’s love flow into my heart. It was a sign that I was still sane. My DNA was fighting back. Some part of me was still an honest to goodness Homo sapiens. A living breathing eating shitting fucking animal trapped in a cage and not happy about it.
Good news: Getting out won’t be too hard. The bars on our cages look like televisions and soft blankets, so all I have to do is give them to somebody who wants to stay trapped. Then I’m just going to slip away into the night and let the fun begin. Destination unknown, I’ll experience the wilds of the world in the Jeep I put together from spare parts. When we run out of gas, I’ll get along some other way.
I thought long and hard about saving the living world, but I decided otherwise. I just can’t. For starters, nobody wants to let go of the lie. It is easier for them to think they’re not at fault because a car has a hybrid engine and because a house only has high-efficiency light bulbs. It would be a lot more work for them to accept that fixing the world is not the same thing as damaging it a little bit less. I don’t think I can change somebody’s mind when they think recycling their beer cans is going to save us and the living planet.
Instead of trying to change people, I am just going to fuck with their minds. Because I can. Because I am good at it. Because I only have one life to live and it sounds like fun. I’m not taking the moral high ground here. I am not an extremist or a radical or even remotely interested in explaining my view of the world to anybody, unless the circumstances are such that it might get me laid. I am just done with the lies. Done with the cage. Done being cattle on this big rotten industrial farm. I am going to break shit and run away laughing into the night. I wish I thought I could do enough damage to kick the civilized humans out of my desert but I don’t think I have enough hands. I do think I can do enough damage to really piss them off though, which I guess is all I can ask for. We’re all going to die sometime. I am going to do it with a big shit-eating grin on my face.
I’m driving away from empire, and having fun along the way. That’s plenty of purpose for one life.