Anonymous asked: Go vagabond? It must be nice to the privilege and resource to do. How exactly are you funding your way around? Working odd jobs here and there? Or are your parents backing your little vacation? My guess is you are a white male from an upper middle class family.
I think up until a few years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to categorize my family as middle-class at all (much less upper middle-). I’ve funded the trip with money I’d saved from a job I’d been working at for the previous four years. So, no my parents haven’t financed anything for this. Though, I have admittedly benefited from their less-than-meteoric rise to what I can only surmise is the definitive middle of the middle class.
And, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to admit that this trip is as much about my ability to go as it is my willingness. My family’s relative (and relatively recent) affluence has certainly provided me with enough avenues to acquire and accumulate money (even if only in menial ways). I’m not blind to that privilege, and it is nice. I don’t want that to sound like petty braggadocio because I do mean it. I don’t take anything for granted.
Your questions seem kind of smarmy. I’m not sure; it’s hard to tell just through text. But I think you’re hitting (or side-swiping?) on a point that I’ve wanted to get to for a long time. There is an inexorable push in our society to “grow up,” to get out from under your parents’ shadow, to work, to make money, and to provide handsomely for yourself and your dependents. These are all admirable goals and definitely worth shooting for, but I think there’s a spectrum of “grown-uppedness” that often gets ignored. For all intents and purposes, what I’m doing now is not a “grown-up” activity. If I had been more of a huckster, and I had engendered a much heftier following, and I had become some kind of wealthy parvenu as a result of my writing or my pictures or, I don’t know, my lack of a telos, no one would be questioning my work ethic as a white middle-middle-class male with the potential for a bohemian streak. Because doing what you love and making money at it is decidedly grown up. Just doing what you love is somehow tantamount to sloth.
This is infused in our culture. The idea that your net worth is tied up in your paycheck and your title. That you are (exclusively) what you earn. It’s funny, the terminology we use. Americans “spend time.” We don’t idle. We don’t while away the hours. We don’t waste the day. We speak of time in relation to currency because we’re always working under the axiomatic and potentially spurious idea that “Time is money.” Time spent frivolously is an absolute waste because, if you’re spending time at all, it had better be a productive expenditure. We think of time as this limited resource, and, in some ways, it is. But Americans are so focused and simultaneously flattened by the pursuit of wealth that our inalienable Right to pursue happiness is entirely eschewed. Or rather, wealth (and the pursuit thereof) becomes synonymous with happiness entirely. Which is fallacious at best and destructive at worst.
Concurrently, we’re all (particularly my generation) under the impression that we’re uniquely capable of doing anything. That we are primed from birth to be a star (or, at least, wildly successful). To quote Robin Pecknold, we’ve been told that we are “like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see.” It’s the American Idol Fallacy at work here…we’re all entitled to our dream, to fulfilling our creative passions while avoiding our pragmatic responsibilities. And when the overwhelming majority of us fails at creating a tourbillion of success in these artistic or creative endeavors, we plunge into self-loathing and penance after realizing we are relatively common middle-management snowflakes. It’s Vonnegut who says, “I see no harm in telling young people to prepare for failure rather than success, since failure is the main thing that is going to happen to them.” Which is true. I just think we’re often so flummoxed by failure we tend to forget that almost everyone has been or is currently or will again be a failure.
So, you see, we’re all chasing after this rather untenable goal, working and worrying ourselves to death about being the best grown up we can possibly be, when there really is no indelibly right way to be a grown up. Everyone’s figuring it out. Everyone has their own system. And if wealth (and all the work required of it) is paramount to achieving your personal conceptualization of happiness, more power to you. Just don’t beat yourself up if you don’t quite get there.
But, anyway, maybe I’m lazy or spoiled or privileged. But, do I want to get some extended leisure time in before I become a glabrous-legged, sedentary old man?
Also, if you weren’t being smarmy then this is a diatribe that I’ve been wanting to go off on for a while. So thank you.