Thursday, December 02, 2010

I was meant for a life of leisure as a man of letters.

I was meant for a life of leisure as a man of letters.

When I first started college the initial plan was to get a double major and a double minor and then proceed onward on either the path of a life as a fine artist or as a college professor. Of course I dripped my art major in my first year and a half, realizing I hated most other artists and thought they were just blowhards full of more crap than talent, and refocused my efforts on my writing, which was itself probably pretty pretentious and terrible. Obviously the life of the college professor was to be for me.

University life had its obvious perks – you get to read books all the time and write whenever you want to and chase down beautiful coeds and ravish them a la Rip Torn in The Man Who Fell To Earth – so you can see why I would have been attracted to it. When you’re younger and idealistic and still capable of arguing some idiotic philosophical tenet you truly believe to be fiercely personal (but is in fact being argued identically by some wet-nosed scamp on any campus around you in any given direction) it only makes sense you’d want to remain in that cozy shroud until the end of days.

I was meant to be an intellect. At least I thought I was. And then I realized that intellects accomplish very little if all they do is mull over personal theories. So I moved out of a college town and into the big city, got a job, and worked full time while pursuing my degree. I was still a man of letters but there was no longer a life of leisure for me. What I gave up in idealism, and I did sacrifice the ability to naively dream, I gained in balanced pragmatism. Don’t get me wrong, I was, and still very much am, a dreamer. I still believe in taking chances and launching into the unknown – life would be pointless without that and discovery would grow nonexistent. I still appreciate everything that is beautiful and wondrous around me, I’m just no longer stunned into submission by it.

In some alternate reality there’s a version of me that never stopped going to school. He has a doctorate and he hasn’t written a novel but he has been published in a few journals and his students think he’s pretty cool and, probably, he’s sleeping with a few of them each semester but he figures it’s OK if it’s only Juniors and Seniors since they’re more “grounded.” He probably smoked pot and grabs drinks after class with a crew of underclassmen and cool teachers and they end up arguing in some campus house until 3 a.m. over an editing point or who as a bigger asshole, Ayn Rand or Sartre. I bet he has a beard too, huh? And I’m sure he likes his life. In fact I’m sure it’s a good life. Maybe even a great one.

I’m just glad it’s not mine.

Photo: If I were still living in a University town, I bet I'd still be wearing that damn electric blue three-piece suit...

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