BY MARK TWIGHT
What's your problem? I think I know. You see it in the mirror every morning: temptation and doubt hip to hip inside your head. You know it's not supposed to be like this. But you drank the Kool-Aid and dressed yourself up in someone else's life.
You're haunted because you remember having something more. With each drag of the razor you ask yourself why you piss your blood into another man's cup. Working at the job he offered, your future is between his thumb and forefinger. And the necessary accessories, the proclamations of success you thought gave you stability provide your boss security. Your debt encourages acquiescence, the heavy mortgage makes you polite.
Aren't you sick of being tempted by an alternative lifestyle, but bound by chains of your own choosing? Of the gnawing doubt that the college graduate, path of least resistance is the right way for you - for ever? Each weekend you prepare for the two weeks each summer when you wake up each day and really ride, or climb; the only imperative being to go to bed tired. When booming thermals shoot you full of juice and your Vario shrieks 7m/sec, you wonder if the lines will pop. The risk pares away life’s trivia. Up there, sucking down the thin cumulus, the earth looks small, the boss even smaller, and you wish it could go on forever. But a wish is all it will ever be.
Because the ground is hard. Monday morning is harsh. You wear the hangover of your weekend rush under a strict and proper suit and tie. You listen to NPR because it's inoffensive, PFC: Politically Fucking Correct. Where's the counter-cultural righteousness that had you flirting with Bad Religion and the vintage Pistols tape over the weekend? On Monday you eat frozen food and live the homogenized city experience. But Sunday you thought about cutting your hair very short. You wanted a little more volume and wondered how out of place you looked in the Sub Pop Music Store. Flipping through the import section, you didn't recognize any of the bands. KMFDM? It stands for Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode. Didn't you know? How could you not?
Tuesday you look at the face in the mirror again. It stares back, accusing. How can you get by on that one weekly dose? How can you be satisfied by the artifice of these experiences? Why should your words mean anything? They aren't learned by heart and written in blood. If you cannot grasp the consciousness-altering experience that real mastery of these disciplines proposes, of what value is your participation? The truth is pointless when it is shallow. Do you have the courage to live with the integrity that stabs deep?
Use the mirror to cut to the heart of things and uncover your true self. Use the razor to cut away what you don't need. The life you want to live has no recipe. Following the recipe got you here in the first place:
Mix one high school diploma with an undergrad degree and a college sweetheart. With a whisk (or a whip) blend two cars, a poorly built house in a cul de sac, and fifty hours a week working for a board that doesn't give a shit about you. Reproduce once. Then again. Place all ingredients in a rut, or a grave. One is a bit longer than the other. Bake thoroughly until the resulting life is set. Rigid. With no way out. Serve and enjoy.
But there is a way out. Live the lifestyle instead of paying lip service to the lifestyle. Live with commitment. With emotional content. Live whatever life you choose honestly. Give up this renaissance man, dilettante bullshit of doing a lot of different things (and none of them very well by real standards). Get to the guts of one thing; accept, without casuistry, the responsibility of making a choice. When you live honestly, you can not separate your mind from your body, or your thoughts from your actions.
Tell the truth. First, to yourself. Say it until it hurts. Learn the reality of your own selfishness. Quit living for other people at the expense of your own self, you're not really alive. You live in the land of denial - and they say the view is pretty a long as you remain asleep.
Well it's time to WAKE THE FUCK UP!
So do it. Wake up. When you drink the coffee tomorrow, take it black and notice it. Feel the caffeine surge through you. Don't take it for granted. Use it for something. Burn the Grisham books. Sell the bad CDs. Mariah Carey, Dave Mathews and N Sync aren’t part of the soundtrack where you're going.
Cut your hair. Don't worry about the gray. If you're good at what you do, no one cares what you look like. Go to the weight room. Learn the difference between actually working out and what you've been doing. Live for the Iron and the fresh air. Punish your body to perfect your soul. Kick the habit of being nice to everyone you meet. Do they deserve it? Say "no" more often.
Quit posturing at the weekly parties. Your high pulse rate, your 5.12s and quick time on the Slickrock Trail don't mean shit to anybody else. These numbers are the measuring sticks of your own progress; show, don't tell. Don’t react to the itch with a scratch. Instead, learn it. Honor the necessity of both the itch and the scratch. But a haircut and a new soundtrack do not a modern man make. As long as you have a safety net you act without commitment. You'll go back to your old habits once you meet a little resistance. You need the samurai's desperateness and his insanity.
Burn the bridge. Nuke the foundation. Back yourself up against a wall. Have an opinion one way or the other, get off the fence and rip it up. Cut yourself off so there is no going back. Once you're committed the truth will come out. You ask about security? What you need is uncertainty. What you need is confusion; something that forces you to reinvent yourself, a whip to drive you harder.
In Dune, Frank Herbert called it "the attitude of the knife,” cut off what’s incomplete and say “now it has finished, for it has ended there.” So finish it, and walk away, forward. Only acts undertaken with commitment have meaning. Only your best effort matters. Life is a Meritocracy, with death as the auditor. Inconsistency, incompetence and lies are all cut short by that final word. Death will change you if you can't change yourself.