Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Free Spirit in the Material World or Homey Don't Play Dat!

Here's a short piece I'd written a couple of years ago that I found and punched up to post here. The beauty of writing your thoughts down and saving them is that it affords you the chance to look back at what you were thinking at a given moment and compare/ contrast it with whatever your current state of mind may be; it let's you check and see if you're still walking down the lane or if you'd, somehow, veered off it and become something else. Although my circumstances have changed in many capacities, I've found that some things in me just won't change..guess I'm still walkin'...Laters...

I was working as an administrative temp, as many freelance writers are forced to do from time to time, when one of the full timers asked me what I "really" did because I didn't comport myself the way she'd imagined me to be while passing in the halls. First I told her the boilerplate "just looking for an entry-level opening". After a barrage of idiotic follow-up queries I broke down and admitted that I was a struggling music journalist. After pausing for a second, my mildly interested inquisitor looked me straight in the retina and stated: "Music journalism? Isn't that an oxymoron?" As I looked up from my temp PC I realized I was being cornered; forced to justify why I chose not to pursue a "legitimate" profession or launch a career track in a more "traditional" manner. The latter cannot be resolved with a simple five sentence reply because apparently many members of the complacent nine-to-five set can't wrap their noodles around a task I like to call a "satisfying proactive job quest." It seems they'd rather schlep their way through a series of bad gigs as "associates" nee "full time staff employees," than follow their hearts which I've never had a problem accepting. They, on the other hand, seem to get some reptilian thrill out of poking fun at free-thinkers with twisted little twigs of unimaginative bon mots like: "hopes don't pay the bills," etc. Maybe in the short-term that would ring true, but there's a bigger picture here and as many variables at play as are the twists on the road to truth.


Circumventing encounters with automatons and the like can be a daunting prospect at times. In the workplace it should be expected but in personal settings it's always a siege of self worth. Sometimes I liken choosing an artistic career path to what I call the "Vegas Syndrome," you know that, feeling a chronic gambler might experience in a casino parking lot after they've spent all of their bread on a 48 hour wager-fest and all they have to show for it is a handful of stubs, half a pack of cigarettes, a sweat soaked collar and the pimp-slap that is the reality of destitution. We've all been there, in one way or another. Be it for sums of capital or the emotional investment of the mental shitty that a romantic relationship can turn into -- "Vegas" is inevitable, son, no matter what you do so you might as well be proactive and enjoy the ride for all it's worth. Back to the $64,000 question.


Now more than ever, given the present context of the job market, it's definitely a shot in the dark to veer off the beaten path of convention as far as the working world is concerned. For those who allow their inner voices to be easily squelched, the rationale is just go along to get along and surrender to the weight of the world. Remembering this, I stared back at my full time inquisitor and mustered my resolve to deliver a definitive reply that would curtail any further questioning from this chatty chick all up in my piece. My reply went along the following lines: "If the day does come, when I must give up following my need to be creative and settle for the hamster wheel grind of a professionally plebeian life, I'd find comfort in knowing that at least up until that point I'd never looked back. Although, 85% of the time, it might have been a financial war of attrition, I'd be able to say with the conviction of hard experience that I gave it the Full Monty" and, with the resignation of those bound for the gallows, I'd grudgingly acquiesce stating "I fought the law but the law won."


Egged on by the Jimmy Stewart pomp of my prose, I continued,"I'd know that I didn't waste years (or decades) of my life in abject fear of being called on the carpet by the hated micromanagers of corporations I abhorred working for in the first place. In that instance I could embrace the fact that I'd ponied up the karmic fee for dreaming without regrets. I would have answered the questions that most leave unanswered about themselves while not having to fade away feeling "I coulda been somebody! I coulda been a contenda!" No refunds w/o receipts: There is a non-negotiable price to pay indeed, but like my brethren and sistren all over town who will continue to seek their manifest destinies between the raindrops and in the ether I'll continue to stand firm. I'll hold dear that barely tangible promise that we know in our heart-of-hearts is just around the corner. Before that possible future of submission comes to pass, however, I'll ask the cosmic croupier for one more hit while the drinks are still on the house." With an indignant look of a devout Crusader's resignation in the presence of a heathen espousing screeds of his pagan deity, the stiff-jawed Julie did an about face -- arms akimbo -- and went back to her cubicle. I stayed on that assignment for another month or so and I'd see "the judge" at the coffee machine in the pantry or while walking around the corridors...but she never asked me to justify my aspirations/station in the world again. I'll close this little aside with lyrics written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones... Laters, CP.

Career Opportunities

They offered me the office, offered me the shop.

They said I'd better take anything they'd got.

Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?

Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?

Career opportunities are the ones that never knock!

Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock.

Career opportunity, the ones that never knock...

I hate the army and I hate the R.A.F.

I don't wanna go fighting in the tropical heat.

I hate the civil service rules.A nd I won't open letter bombs for you.

Bus driver...ambulance man...ticket inspector...

They're gonna have to introduce conscription.

They're gonna have to take away my perscription.

If they wanna get me making toys.If they wanna get me, well, I got no choice.

Careers.Careers.Careers.

Ain't never gonna knock!


Note: it's a trifle punk, if not downright pessimistic but look at it this way -- if we only walked along on the sunny days, we'd never complete our life's journey...double laters.

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