Tuesday, April 25, 2006
There exists in our society a rather twisted sense of entitlement. How does it come to pass that so much talent rises out of the ashes of disadvantage, and so much mediocrity issues from areas of society which ostensibly hold all the right cards in the economic-socio-political poker game of our everyday lives?I believe that the answer to these questions rests in the availabilty of choice. I had an acquaintance who lived a life of nearly limitless economic priviledge. On the surface, one could only surmise that the choices he was required to make throughout the day would be life-enhancing and pleasant, without the sort of economic pressure you or I would experience while deciding which bill to leave unpaid if we wanted to go to the movies or out to dinner. In reality, this person's life was a priviledge-induced living hell of inconsequential decisions based on choices which had no impact or life-changing implications whatsoever. The deepest question that I can imagine him asking himself is "Do I look like who I think I am trying to act like?" The crises he faced had to do with the label on the inside of his shoes, or the casual arc of his vulgar jewelry which required hours to get just right. Just the right quasi-beat-up jacket from the hippest (most expensive) designer. And then, oh my god, which car to drive to the designer coffee monger. He manufactured all these major decisions to hide behind so he wouldn't be faced with the truth, which was, if time were money, he was on equal terms with the guy in the "real" beat-up jacket who lives in the bushes behind the designer coffee monger and turns in as many empty plastic bottles per day as it takes to curl up with a warm bottle of cheap wine.So why is it that the basketball team from St. Buffy's in the suburbs absolutely shits their collective break-away warm-ups when the visiting team shows up in mis-matched rag-tag uniforms, one gym bag for the whole team and wearing street shoes? Hmmm...maybe it's because while St. Buffy's was raising money washing Volvo wagons and selling protein-enriched granola bars and smoothies at the country club cotillion, the visiting team was playing on a decrepid asphalt court with chain nets, not a designer sportdrink in sight, against tattoo-encrusted ex-cons with the smell of real sweat and the sounds of sirens and semi-drunken sideline referees in the air.Some elements of society have more choice. That is an immutable fact. It seems to me that when the variety of choices we are asked to make is limited, we do more with less. "Who I am" or "what can I become" tend to be more life changing questions than "do I look hip while acting busy." Having your ass handed to you on the playground by a kid in beat-up wing-tips and complaining that you could have won if you had your $200.00 sneakers is just begging for a head slap with the "it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools" paddle. James Jamerson recorded more hit records on a single instrument than most people could name. Jaco Pastorius played one type of bass with such mastery that he could pick up any instrument and you knew it was him. Kip Keno outran the best runners in the world...and he didn't wear any goddamned shoes at all!We are all entitled to 24 hours per day for every day on the planet. We are also entitled to use those hours however we see fit. This proposition is much like the story of the man who would inherit a vast some of money if he were able to spend it all in a given time frame. Time is a commodity which MUST be spent. How we spend it defines the value of our experience. This is the extent of our entitlement.