Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Path of Idiosyncratic Normalcy

You know that Road Not Taken poem by Robert Frost which exists forever entwined with graduation speeches to the same degree as Good Riddance? Well, I hate that poem. Or, rather, I do not hate the poem so much as I hate the assholes who like that poem for roughly the same reason that I hate assholes who like and play Good Riddance at graduation parties: They missed its fucking point.

Since I'm headed to Grad School I've been the lucky recipient of life advice from various parties. People who run drill presses for a living have shared with me their life philosophies in an effort to aid my growth and development. Which is sweet, except when we remember that I study philosophy. So someone sharing with me their life philosophy is, really, tantamount to sharing with an oncology student one's thoughts on colorectal cancer. There are acknowledged authorities on cancer; there are acknowledged authorities on philosophy. Generally speaking the drill press operator is neither.

What I've noticed from these stories and bits of advice, though, is that everyone seems to think that they are on the path less traveled; everyone thinks they are an example of a divergence from the norm. The drill press operator attributes his current predicament to running a drill at company A rather than company B, which has made all the difference. The middle manager at Stuckey's is thrilled that he passed on that middle manager's job at Wack-n-Gulp, which has made all the difference. Everyone has this neat little example of how they are different; this interesting tale of how they took the path less traveled.

The problem is that we're all on the same damned path.

When I went out to eat with my grandparents they told me that I need to keep my faith; faith is all that will sustain me through these "troubled times". The problem is that faith's ability to sustain an individual is found in that individual's focus upon something other than what is. We place faith in god so that our concern is not for this reality but rather the reality to come. It's misdirection. It's a change in focus. Which is exactly what happens when one nihilistically just stops giving a shit. Religion and Nihilism are the same path to the same goal. We're just very confused about what "same" means.

That's one of the interesting components of life. We're all fixated on our particular paths, our particular choices and decisions and predicaments. But, really, it's as the second and third stanzas of The Road Not Taken say:

Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
It's the same fucking path. It's the same fucking life philosophy. It's the same fucking life. Replicated and replicated and replicated endlessly yet interpreted as unique and meaningful because, well, that's what we've convinced ourselves that we want.


Roscoe said...

Man... remember when everyone thought "Remember to Wear Sunscreen" was going to be the next version of those?

Graduation Folks are some sentimental saps.

.... Your Religion Paragraph? Is my entire Joker debate, by the way.

Which would have made for a wondeful meal with the grandfolks... "Grandfolks like magic tricks, right? It's just like old carnival folk.." and then i'd be off and chuckling at horrible thoughts.

_J_ said...

".... Your Religion Paragraph? Is my entire Joker debate, by the way."

How different motivations lead to the same end?