The Dream and the Green Light

There is this town next to the one I grew up in called Orangevale. It’s come to symbolize everything I don’t want my life to lead up to. I remember as a kid just getting this choking feeling in my throat whenever I would visit friends there. I remember realizing “I’d rather put a gun in my mouth than end up living here.”

Not because it was poor–it wasn’t–but because it was just sad. You could just feel the toll that getting up everyday and working 40 hours a week as mediocre insurance salesman or secretary took on people. I drove through it a while back and from the cocoon of my car remember hearing those piercing screams of desperation rattling off chain link fences and dry, brown lawns. People just waiting for the weekend so they can sit and eat dinner on tv trays or yell at their kids. Alinsky called this “living in illusions of partial escape.”

I still feel that choking–that fear. I just cannot end up there. To work your whole life at the governmentally mandated limit for what? At something you’re ok at but would quit if you could get a few more dollars doing something else, for what? To have the white picket fence that needs so desperately to be repaired but you just don’t care enough to do it, for what? To be so angry, and confused, and wonder why your kids act out in violence, for what?

And for some reason, kids I went to college with are just counting the days before they graduate and move back. No wonder it’s all about indulgence, artifice, delusion and those “if I don’t travel abroad now, I’ll never get to do it again” trips they have the state pay for. It’s a last gasp before they voluntarily go under. Worse, most of my friends never even left.

That’s not me. I won’t let it be. I’d rather be dirt-fucking-poor and doing exactly what I want then take the sucker’s payoff of that life. Or, better yet, have both–the money that comes with rarity and value and the passion of a life of meaning. But you’ll hear a lot of excuses for why that’s not possible or not worth it or too hard–ask yourself, as I try to, “according to who?” And then you’ll see them as the tinny, self-serving rationalizations from people scared to death of life and effort that they are.

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