Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Is That A New Tie?
Personally, I don't have a lot of ambition. The thing I want to get done more than anything in this life is to be able to sleep in until after 8 am.

There are other people (one of whom I married to) who go around all day expending all kinds of energy trying to "get somewhere" and "make something out of their lives". I'm sure overall it works out very nicely for them, but on a day to day basis, they mostly just seem really, really tired to me. I don't think my wife knows how to sleep in until after 8 am.

Professionally speaking, mine is a more subtle, more passive ambition. What I do is I go about my day doing things that distract me from the fact that I will one day cease to be. And then wait for a giant bag of money to drop out of the sky, whether it is in divine exchange for my work, say, writing or child-rearing or EA Sports Madden NFL Football '06 or whatever. I figure I'm putting the time in to these things, someone is bound to notice and spontaneously reward me with cash. It doesn't have to be Jesus to have it drop from the sky, it could just be someone who is extraordinarily wealthy enough to hand out cash to deadbeats like me and still have enough discretionary spending money to afford a top-of-the-line catapult.

Being completely honest with myself (and, here publicly, with you now, my faithful Bucketeers) I'm a little squeamish about committing myself body-and-soul to some elusive professional goal. Mostly it's because I know deep down that cartoons lie.

When I was a kid, all the cartoons I watched--your GI Joe, your Transformers, your Voltron, your M.A.S.K.--all included the same message: be honest, be a good and reliable friend and--most importantly--just believe in yourself and all your dreams would come true.

Then you get older and you realize: hey, if the guys from GI Joe believed in themselves so much, how come they never defeated Cobra? Sure, they would emerge victorious from whatever petty squabble provided the plot-line for that day's episode, but over the long-term, Cobra never, ever succumbed.

I learned two things from that later in life. 1) Evil, while resistible, is a pernicious, meddling force endemic to humans and human nature that can never be fully eradicated, so it's OK to side with it every once in a while and 2) "Believe in yourself" is a total crock of shit made up as a public service message in cartoons because the FCC wouldn't let them come right out and say "Buy more toys!".

Sure, Voltron was more of an allegory about the Kantian moral Categorical Imperative, but that's just the exception that proves the rule, isn't it? And by the way, I mean the lion Voltron, not the one with all the cars and whatever. That was a jumbled mess of subjectivist postmodernism with no redeeming philosophical value whatsoever.

Even someone willingly engaged in the struggle for advancement and personal betterment, like my wife, needed a little help getting her foot in the door at the company she works for now from a friend's dad who worked there. It didn't matter that she was objectively a potential asset to the company with tremendous personal and profession up-side, they still turned her away the first time.

So you see, you can believe in yourself and believe in yourself and believe in yourself all you want. If that's all you have, you will die old and alone and forgotten having spent your entire life sleeping on steam grates and--if you're lucky--selling flowers to passing motorists on a freeway offramp.

In order to get ahead you have to know somebody.

For example, there are thousands of people with law degrees and distinguished careers as jurists of every stripe who would love nothing more than a Supreme Court appointment. But all the qualifications in the world pale in comparison to knowing the Boss. And it doesn't hurt to kiss his ass. A lot. Over the course of a few decades.

Write him stuff like "You are the best governor ever - deserving of great respect. All I hear is how great you and Laura are doing. Texas is blessed."

Hear that? Best ever.

The article also says: After an engagement at which Mr Bush signed an autograph for a girl, Ms Miers gushed: "I was struck by the tremendous impact you have on the children whose lives you touch." She said he was "cool".

Working hard and being a good person and staying true to who you are are great. They really are. Stick to that and maybe one day you'll make it all the way to the Oprah show. To sit in the audience, another ignored face in a faceless crowd of fawning sycophants. But if you were to apply that same indiscriminate, self-debasing, idol-worship fervor to the person above you in your workplace, well, that might actually get you something.

I guess my point can be summed up in one word: stop. Just stop. Whether you're a college student or a high school student or a corporate drone or a struggling painter, just stop. Take all that energy you were wasting on "achievement" and point it toward something more concretely practical, like sucking up. Sorry, "networking". And drinking. Lots of drinking. You're going to need it to numb the pain.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.6



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