Sunday, October 2, 2011

Occupy Away!

Old Jaded Jack
The whole occupation of Wall Street thing is making me sad. It reminds me of my age, my anger levels, and my own inability to have any faith anymore that people can turn things around.

Not that I believe that they can't, either. That would almost be easier. Nihilism would be a welcome escape, and escape is one option that I never choose. It's just that I no longer have the passionate belief that people will create a better society that I once had. I'm not sure where exactly that belief went; but I'd like it back.

Jack Kerouac became a bitter old man rather quickly after becoming famous. He avoided or rejected many of his old friends, and took to drinking and spouting conservative rhetoric instead of traveling and writing. Everything that fueled his earlier creative impulses seemed lost. He chose the escapist route. Or perhaps he just fell into it. Alcohol chose it for him.

I'm not that person. I'm not jaded. I'm still essentially a positive person. But my positivity has become focused. Instead of the broad, sweeping romanticism of my youth it's a scalpel of positive energy. I'm positive about my daily interactions. I'm enthusiastic about individuals in a way that the jaded Jacks of the world don't seem to be.

To cite an example: As I was walking through the store today, my mind was on a series of frustrations. I was angry and sad. And a woman cut me off, pulling her cart in front of me and stopping in confusion. She was an old woman, and I smiled at her. As much as the world in general was bothering me, I had nothing but affection for the face of this old woman standing in front of me. In a broad sense, I was upset at humanity. But this specific woman, how could I be mad at her? She was just an old lady trying to get her Sunday shopping done.

That's how I feel about the protests. I'm irritated by their futility, in the grand scheme. But you, individual protester- when I see your photo, I smile. I like you. I can't extrapolate that feeling to the broad movement, or our future as a species. But I can hope you turn out okay. I hope I don't become too jaded for that.

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