Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm Gonna Be

I'm gonna be iron
Like a lion
In Zion

- Bob Marley, "Iron, Lion, Zion"

* * *

A few years ago Monster.com ran a bitingly hysterical ad (here) that featured a bunch of kids saying when they grew up they wanted to be yes men and have a brown nose and claw their way to middle management. It's funny because it rings true and and it throws the question - "What did you want to be?" - right back in your face. The comparison between what we imagined for ourselves and what we've become was all too painful. So we laugh.

I had no dreams of being what I've become. I fell to it. I've had some spikes of accomplishment, but taken as a whole, this is not what I thought I'd be.

So, I'm taking Bob's advice. I'm gonna be iron, like a lion in Zion.

Why not go for it?

* * *

Somewhere buried deep in the Upanishads is the refrain Tat Tvam Asi which translates as "Thou art that." It means your true Self is identical with the ultimate reality - you are that - and it is this knowledge that liberates you. If thou art fucked it is because you've lost track of your true Self somewhere along the way. You traded who you are for what you could become. And what you've become is fucked.

But this doesn't have to be a permanent state because no matter how far you fall from your true Self, that original spark of magma still exists whether you care to believe it or not. Unfucking yourself is a matter of finding it again and once found living by it come hell or high water.

You can do a world of damage to yourself and to others by not reconciling that which is solely yours with your actions. You are always free to choose. It is the one great freedom afforded to us all - we can choose - and abdicating your responsibility here, letting others dictate terms, letting cultural currents and profit motives dictate the contours of your life is rat-bastard cowardly. You were born to choose, not go along to get along.

* * *

I have worked as a porter, door to door salesman, ladies shoe department salesman, funeral home attendant, short-order cook, telemarketer, retail clerk, waiter, bartender, restaurant manager, production assistant, assistant director, art department coordinator, teacher, corporate consultant, writer, stay-at-home-dad, retail manager, wine buyer and maybe another ten or so I've forgotten. I've been fucked that's for sure because the only one I was any good at, the only one I felt at home in was when I was teaching. It was always a challenge and there was always something new to learn. It felt just like being alive.

Some people are blessed with the sure knowledge of what work they will fill their life with and then live it. Others struggle to find their footing, but once found they then live it. Us fucked fuckers keep trying to get up that hill and it goes oh so nowhere. We are at a far remove from thou being that, but here's the news: you are free to choose whatever it is you are.

No life is a straight line from cradle to grave. We meander, circle back, take the wrong exits and generally slalom our way through time. Desire is impulse and experience shapes those desires. At any moment you are free to wake up, free to choose differently, free to be thou being that. Freedom is not an external state, or a circumstance one finds one's self in. It is internal and eternal. Your only job is to recognize it and then act in accordance with it.

* * *

Iron, lion, Zion, mother fucker.

Iron. Lion. Zion


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