i was a teenage anarchist, looking for a revolution
i had the style, i had the ambition
read all the authors, knew the right slogans
there was no war but the class war
i was ready to set the world on fire…
don’t you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?
in this, my blog’s fourth (!) year of life, i also enter my 33rd year. [in english - i turn 32.] i have accomplished much in this life. and i have accomplished nothing. i’ve created and destroyed. i have alternately, really depending on the moment in which the question comes up, settled into peace with being, y’know, GROWN and total panic that i have let so much of my life go by without really understanding what it is i want.
sigh. angst is SO unbecoming in one’s thirties.
teenage me, who i sort of remember as this wild-haired little nutball of high ambition and don’t-give-a-fuck all balled into a sixteen-year-old kid, was full of grand plans and no sense. ‘course, we all were when we were teenagers, i think. that’s kinda what scares me about the teenage kids around DC, at least the ones i see from the high school down the street from my office. they’re weirdly type-A automatons, with carefully scheduled days and professional-quality CVs so that they can get into the ivy league or equally prestigious college of their [parents'] dreams. frankly, it’s CREEPY. who wants to overprogram their kids that hard? i mean, besides people who equate status with success with appearance.
teenage me had the right idea. work hard, but not harder than you need to in order to get the job done. respect the need for fun, family (family by choice, that is – family by obligation goes into the “work” category a lot more than you’d think), and plain-old down time. achievement is such a relative term, isn’t it? it’s really easy to buy into a certain mode of success. a lot of people live lives of total control – i will run! and eat clean! and throw myself into my work! i will be the most perfect me i can be, but i will love my imperfections! and a lot of people who live this way seem pretty happy in it. but i have to wonder if it’s the kind of happiness you feel all the way through you, when everything clicks and you get that holy, perfect moment of yes, no matter how fleeting.
seems to me that a lot of people who live lives rigidly wired with structure and rules are trying to jump-start happiness by eliminating “flaws” from their lives. i get the need for self-improvement and routine. i do. but the march to purity smacks of the need to replace something. not to mention that we are not dogs, we are human beings. see, dogs need hierarchy, structure and rules to feel secure. the ex-dog was assured of his place as bottom dog in our “pack.” as far as the dog understood, the ex was 1, i was 2 and he was 3. but he knew who was in charge, he knew who would be responsible for him, and that little dude was as happy as hell.
me, on the other hand? i get TIRED of following rules. i am an autonomous grown person. i know what’s good for me and what’s bad for me. i can assess risk and behave accordingly. i don’t need to apply an even more stringent set of restrictions and rules on myself than the ones my society, my job and my financial situation impose. i know what a balanced diet is. i don’t need to “cleanse,” “detox” or whatever the fad label today is. i don’t need to worry about whether i have the perfect bedsheets.
and when i decide to become someone’s mama? i am not going to jump headlong into the judgment spiral and mean-spirited contest that modern parenting has become. hell no. HELL no. i can’t imagine looking at the women in my life who have raised kids well – in ALL generations, not just ours – and tell them that they’re bad at it. in my opinion, my father is the best example of how to parent a kid. i will follow his lead. but i’m not going to look at your choices and tell you you’re evil. i think attachment parenting is an evangelically-based scam designed to pull women out of the workplace and return them to servility in the guise of “if you don’t, you’re hurting your kid.” [look up dr. sears if you don't believe me.] but i know people who swear by those tactics. so whatever. as long as you can produce a kid who isn’t an asshole in public, you do you, and i’ll do the same when it comes my time. this isn’t hard. unless you fall for the anti-vaccine hoax that jenny mccarthy insists on perpetrating. then you’re not only endangering your kid, but everyone else’s too.
so i think, after a number of years of being knocked off balance and needing to find another way of thinking about the world, i landed not all that far from where i started my adulthood adventure. i remember being young, a little spitfire writing pugnacious liberal columns in a high-school newspaper and thinking i made a dent in anyone’s consciousness. i wanted to set the world on fire. i do remember. and maybe some people are wired to have that kind of energy forever. but a lot of us aren’t. and life in 2013 is pretty toxic if you’re not a DREAM BIG! LIVE PURE! CHASE YOUR PASSION! kind of person. i don’t buy into the constant noise that’s being pumped at us that our lives will only get better if we plumb every depth, take up running, and just follow a series of rules designed to give us all better living through constant regimens.
i don’t mind clutter. i like to stay home and eat sour cream and onion doritos sometimes. [yes! sour cream and onion doritos! they are DIVINE.] i am not going vegan, giving up sugar and alcohol, running a color run or any of that other business. i don’t like it. i don’t want to. i want to save my energy for things i like. like fixing chicken and dumplings for my beloved. or sitting around a bar table with my friends, drinking wine and being loud. OR SLEEPING IN, my god i love sleeping in, it’s my favorite thing ever. and really, at the end of the day, being quietly evaluative of every situation around me, and acting on the best judgment i can have. that’s, to me, the best and sanest way to live. i will not gain sanity by forcing myself to find it in a rubric of rules.
i was a teenage anarchist. and in a lot of ways, i never gave up on anarchy. but instead of raging at geopolitical machines, i rage at psychosocial ones instead. let me live in peace. give me a goddamn brownie. and don’t throw your sparkle-laden autocratic regime of barefoot running and juice cleanses at me. i’m good. deal?