Caged by consumption
I was attempting to write an flaming article about how I felt irrevocably caged by the capitalistic system, when I realized just how full of shit I am, and how hypocritical for whining about something in which I am willingly and actively participating.
My complaint was that, yes, this is the land of the American Dream, where you can become anything you would like to be, but only if what you want is profitable to others. Everyone in this country is in the service industry, more or less, and you must have a skill or a product that is marketable to survive without outside assistance from those that are productive members of society.
I’m sure I get angry just because it seems like I’m spending my entire life “earning a living.” I spend so much time working that it feels like my life is slipping out of my grasp and that I’m wasting what precious time I have. I suppose the immediate solution to that is to be hired somewhere where I can be paid for doing what I do in my spare time, but not all of us are that lucky, especially those of us interested in entertainment and the arts, and especially for those that are just socialite lushes with occasional drunken wisdom.
Kerouac summed up my malaise better than I ever could in The Dharma Bums: “….they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, at least new fancy cars, certain hair oils and deodorants and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume….”
We work so hard and waste our lives at a job we hate just so we can consume. I’m exhausted with it, but I’m not sure how I could break free, or if I’m willing to do what it takes. I fully admit that I am a chickenshit, and probably would not be able to be homeless or eat out of dumpsters to survive, to be a college graduate hobo, pretty much. Reading about other hippies/bohemians who have the balls to “squat” and live in abandoned buildings, and fight just to experience a full life that does not include a huge house, nice car, or an extensive wardrobe makes me wish I were braver.
Ultimately the first draft I was writing was blaming capitalism for imprisoning me, when now I’ve realized that I’m willingly jailed by my own inability to take the necessary steps to escape.