Sunday, 14 June 2015
You Can Be Anything You Want To Be
I would like you all, as a class, to imagine that you are all grown adults and, as we have told you that you all can, you have achieved all of your dreams. So, close your eyes now, and think. You are waking up on a wonderful day in perfect town, where you all live. You have got up and dressed and you are now on your way to work. Now, remember, each of you will be different in your goals, but you are all on your way to work. Some of you will walk. Some of you might ride a fancy road bike. Others will have an expensive car. Maybe you'll drive it, maybe you won't, but your on your way to work. You've left your lovely house, perhaps it's in the suburbs, maybe it contains a wife, or a husband, or two cats and a dog. Maybe it's up a private track behind a set of ornate gates or maybe it is high up at the penthouse of a skyscraper. Sorry. I sidetrack. So, you are on your way to work. You have a smile on your face and it is a wonderful day for you to be alive and so you think; what better way to get to work than with a nice fresh coffee, or tea, or maybe a hot breakfast and so you check your watch but you know that work won't mind because, I imagine, most of you own your own companies, or work for yourselves, or maybe you don't work but, hey, you're going out for a coffee anyway. So you, living your perfect life, amongst other people living out the dreams we've told you that you can all work hard and have, walk up to the till to buy a coffee and my question to you is:
Who is serving you that coffee?
Which of the other students, other dreamers in this room doesn't get to live out their dreams because they have to serve you your latte? Who stands there, and smiles and secretly hates you and themselves and looks, jealously, upon your perfection and serves you your coffee? Whose dream is in the dust amongst the floor?
But you don't worry about this, because you got your dream. Someone didn't, but that wasn't you. You're doing fine. So you get to work, and you turn in your projects, and everyone loves you and you're doing just cracking. So you say to everyone that you're just popping out to grab some lunch, and so you pop into the supermarket to grab a few things and maybe one of those nice sandwiches as a treat. And you pick up your things, and put them in a basket, and you go up to the till and there is another person, sat there, passing things she can't afford in front of a scanner, because she didn't get her dream. But don't worry: your teacher said that you were going to get your dream, so you did. But. Wait. Her teacher told that to her as well. And she worked, didn't she? Or did she just think she was working? Did she just want her dream a bit, whereas you wanted yours a lot. You wanted yours more than anything else.
But there's, perhaps, another story behind this. Maybe that Coffee guy is living his dream, just not yet. Maybe he's at night school, or he's writing a book. Maybe that till girl is working so she can pay for uni. They are doing this because they value their education. They value their dreams. Their dreams change things. They fulfill their operators and they make the world different. Maybe Coffee guy is a volunteer lifeboat man, and checkout girl is a thesbian in the evenings, or she's researching something minute and underfunded but fulfilling.
So is your dream really your dream or is it just a bit of a concession? And, and here is a dangerous thought, does your dream actually matter? Does your lovely dream job contribute to anything? Does it make things better? does it make you better? What has happened in this wonderful dream day that has changed the world?
Your teachers are increasingly preparing students for lives where you either fail to live up to your own expectations, or live up to expectations that are, frankly, useless. You will graduate school to get jobs that allow you to do exactly the same things that you are doing at school; performing the minimum in tasks in order to spend the rest of your hours browsing the internet and documenting your humdrum lives for others to browse. You will participate in a great amorphous mass of perpetuating nothingness. You will be happy, sort of, but you will be doing jobs that have been created, essentially, so that people have jobs. Our economy is the preserve of the service industry. Most people don't really do anything except move things around so that other people can move them back.
Most of you will be perfectly content with this. You will stop doing arts, and sciences, and humanities and you will lose interest in pursuing anything. There is an interesting term: Pursuing. Pursuit of learning, of fulfillment through personal improvement is, surely, the point of life (in lieu of having any concrete theological solution (If God in any form suddenly appears and tells us the point of humanity was achieved in 1981, with the invention of the potato waffle, then I will gladly rescind this post*)). It doesn't need a label, it doesn't need anyone to qualify it with an EBACC or a sticker or a sew-on badge. Your dreams are consistently pigeon-holed into sensible twenty-first century friendly boxes: I want to be an accountant when I grow up. I really want to work in sales. No-one wants these things. Not really. These things barely exist. Every one of should want to change the world. Content is a dirty word. Content is a word sold to you by people who can profit from your quiet obedience. You should want to live without dead time. You should aspire not to be cogs. The problem, of course, is alluded to in the start of this little talk. Not everyone gets everything they want or, what they want is useless. So, what is there to do? To do, is to remind you that life isn't a desk. Life is in your heart. Life is in your head. Life is your own fulfillment, not your teacher's or your boss's. But please, for your own sakes, be ambitious. Care. Give a shit how your insignificant spark of life on this tiny planet in some backwater of the galaxy is spent. You probably only get this, and your dying every single second. To quote Fight Club, This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. Go out and be a revolutionary. Go and, to quote Whip It, be your own hero.
Here endeth the assembly.