So This Is Goodbye

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.”

-Patti Smith

Well, the world didn’t end after all. We woke up the morning after the 21st to find that the dust had settled and it was just another day. Life does go on, and aside from the exciting, exasperating highs and lows of political conflicts, social struggles and apocalyptic tall tales, life is mostly pretty boring.

And we like it that way.

Each day follows the next in an indistinguishable blur of working, eating, sleeping, working, eating, sleeping. Maybe we have time for a hobby, for quality time with friends and family, for partying, for reflection. But even those punctuation marks get absorbed into the endless run-on sentence of life in the industrialized, politicized world. We’re each just doing our part to get to the end of the obstacle course of survival, the mechanized hustle we were born into, with as few scratches as possible so that we can get a good night’s sleep on our deathbeds.

In the midst of our monotonous daily struggles, maybe we tend to forget that this struggle is collective. The yuppie with the nice clothes and the $800,000 condo slamming $12 cocktails at my work might see me busing his empty glasses for minimum wage and think that his life is very, very different from mine. And in a superficial sense, he’s right. But those are only details, mere technicalities. In the end, he and I are no different; we’re both trying to get by as painlessly as we can, making the most of whatever resources we can wrap our greasy paws around without letting life’s petty day-to-day stresses bend us out of shape. Me, him, and everybody else are just doing what we can.

Another thing we all have in common: we’re all so singularly focused on our own game of survival that we might overlook the fact that a society is the sum of its parts. Yes, that includes you. Me too. We seem content to blame something or someone else for whatever stands between us and the seamless path to that good night’s deathbed sleep we all feel we’re owed.

I should know. I love playing the blame game, and I’ve been honing my skills ever since I was a wee boy getting corrupted by the dissonant, dissident howls of disenfranchisement emanating from Black Flag records and William Burroughs books. I’ve blamed the stifling anti-creativity, pro-materialism ethos of post-Reagan America, my ex-hippie sellout parents and their whole generation, the urban colonialists that many people my age are joining the ranks of, the old-money oligarchy of contemporary politics…The list goes on.

Liberals blaming conservatives, conservatives blaming liberals, anarchists blaming capitalists, kids blaming their parents, elders blaming their successors. Is there really any difference between me calling some red state fundamentalist a backwoods bigot and a red state backwoods bigot calling me a godless Yankee baby-killer? Between my parents calling my generation shiftless and entitled and me calling my parents’ generation the makers and breakers of empty promises I could never have possibly lived up to? Everyone’s righteous indignation is equally real, burning-hot and passionately felt.

I’m sorry, it appears this article has lost all focus. What the hell am I trying to say? I don’t know. I’m trying to sum up all of my reflections after a year of writing for Borderless News And Views, and I don’t know where to start or finish. After delving farther into social/political discourse than I ever imagined I could have, I’m more confused than anything. And that’s fine. I figure that now’s the time to strike out on my own, without the shelter of solidarity and group mentality to protect me from this confusion. I’m going to walk naked and unadorned into the big bad world and look my confusion dead in the eye. I’m going to make my own mistakes and suffer their consequences point-blank. Will I learn from those mistakes, will I find clarity after the confusion? I don’t know. I don’t care. I care only about trying.

I’m not a liberal, a punk, an anarchist, or any sort of iconoclast. I’m just a person.

Thank you all very, very much for reading my rants and raves. Extra special thanks to Brooklyn Dame, whose loyal encouragement has been a tremendous help to me.

I hope the new year treats all of us well, and I hope we can all help push our collective world up and up.

Peace.