Rethinking Bohemia

As is normal this time of year, I sit here reflecting on bygones because I have the time and opportunity to do so. What is life and how does it relate to me? It seems my goals have gone—have become diluted from the clear, simplistic ones they used to be. Like, my goal at age 15 was to have full time work mowing lawns for people. That worked, but suddenly mowing grass was hot, dusty work and was not much fun anymore. Another was to have my own car; soon I had three, but having $40 thousand sitting in the driveway suddenly seemed pretty stupid. One of my favorites was the time two friends and I drove from Pennsylvania to San Francisco on a whim and spent two weeks along the Pacific coast, dining fine, hitting skateparks, surfing, rollerblading the boardwalk, and doing absolutely whatever we pleased. The stupid things, like walking four miles through Harlem after midnight. The taxi driver who was scared to drive us back through the neighborhood we walked through earlier. The time we borrowed a friend’s car and somehow survived the 140 mph drive back from a fun night. These activities were not well-planned; I think I somehow got a raw rush of survival when I realized how foolish they were after the fact. My dream of being a messenger boy in New York City never materialized, I guess because I realized this would be a short-lived career: one way or another. My plans of becoming a real estate tycoon fell with the economy. Strangely, I was relieved when these plans didn’t materialize.

Somehow I ended up in college. No, not somehow; this was not a spontaneous decision. It was one of the few plans of many that actually worked out. I didn’t come here to learn how to be an accountant. I didn’t come here to get a degree. I came to meet new people, learn a new community, while taking a slew of liberal classes. I love to learn. Mostly though, I came because college seemed like an adventure—not an adventure where I party and get wildly drunk every night, but one where I take classes every day and get acquainted with interesting professors. If I had gone to high school I would have had a very different motive for attending college, indeed, I probably would have never come. But the whole college process was wildly intriguing to me, having practically never seen the inside of a classroom before. Always one to study processes, the system of academia appealed to me; I was fascinated by the protocol and dignity. I wanted to find out what people valued so highly within it. The application process was intimidating but after scoring in the 99th percentile on the GED test, I thought I could at least bluff my qualifications. It worked.

Here I am. Studying a subject I once was scared of. Planning to work in the corporate environment upon graduation. I won’t make as much money as I did before college, but somehow I don’t mind. I won’t have the vacation time, the flexibility, the perks of working in my home community. I will have the challenge of continual learning, and endless processes and protocol to analyze. Maybe there’s a teeny bit of responsibility in all this, too—the responsibility to use a degree to get something ungettable without one. Will this education ever pay off financially? Likely not; but if it did, I’d be missing the point.

I heard this old story before
Where the people keep on killing for their metaphors
But don’t leave much up to the imagination,
So I wanna give this imagery back
But I know it just ain’t so easy like that
So I turn the page and read the story again
and again and again
It sure seems the same, with a different name
We’re breaking and rebuilding
and we’re growing
always guessing
Never knowing
We’re shocking but we’re nothing
We’re just moments, we’re clever but we’re clueless
We’re just human, amusing and confusing
Were trying but where is this all leading?
We’ll never know

It all happened so much faster than you could say disaster
Wanna take a time lapse and look at it backwards
Find the last one and maybe that’s just the answer that we’re after
But after all we’re just a bubble in a boiling pot
Just one breath in a chain of thought
We’re moments just combusting
We feel certain but we’ll never, never know
It sure seems the same, give it a different name
We’re begging and we’re needing
and we’re trying and we’re breathing
Never knowing
We’re shocking but we’re nothing
We’re just moments, we’re clever but we’re clueless
We’re just human, amusing and confusing
We’re helping, rebuilding and we’re growing

Knock, knock coming door to door
To tell ya that their metaphor is better than yours
And you can either sink or swim things are looking pretty grim
If you don’t believe in what they’re spoon feeding
Its got no feeling so I read it again and again and again
It sure seems the same so many different names
Our hearts are strong our heads are weak
We’ll always be competing
Never knowing
We’re shocking but we’re nothing
We’re just moments, we’re clever but we’re clueless
We’re just human, amusing and confusing…

~Jack Johnson