The Times They Need a’Changin
Zack Sterkenberg has allowed BUnow to feature some of his creative writing. Enjoy, and check back for more of his amazing work.
Everyone always loves talking about their aspirations in life, the fantastic places they dream of going, the 18-bedroom mansions with a picket fence that stands for the culmination of their life’s work. If you’re an American, 9 times out of 10 these two things are in your top 10 of “Things to Achieve in this Lifetime.” It’s uniquely American, out fondness of large things and expensive getaways. We aspire to one-up our friends, whether you’d admit it or not, and we seem to have an innate drive instilled in us from birth to lust for power and wealth, because that’s what being a successful person entails.
To achieve these luxuries however, you have a 20-30 year gap spent solely trying to make yourself into the person that people want you to be, Mr. or Ms. “Right,” in order to attain the necessary skill-set to get a job and earn your dreams. You sit at your desk in misery, wasting away over term papers, memorizing skeletal structures, deciphering centuries-old literature to squander up a meaning that will appease your professors–who you assume know everything, because that’s how things work. You spend dollar after dollar on Starbucks to stay awake all night and cram as much as possible, all in the hopes that “One day, this will all be worth it.”
You reach your senior year of college and you land an unpaid internship, but you know that “this will really impress people when they see it on my resume, right?” You’re thrilled over the thought of impressing another human being by showing off your credentials. You want, no…need to take this summer slavery in order to achieve that mansion, that car… that dream. It’s all a game, and know matter what you’ve done to earn your way to the top, somebody can smite you down just because “They were a good fit for the position, but I just didn’t think they were right for the company, ya know Mike?” Fail. Don’t give up though, that’d be unAmerican. Fight on until you prevail.
But why spend so much of your life just trying to prove yourself? Why waste 30+ years trying to make yourself good enough for other people to understand that your are, indeed, good enough for their company, their firm? Hmmm, yeah, why am I doing this to myself, spending $7,000 to $30,000 per-semester, or more, just to get the best education, and get a leg up. Well, most likely because that seems to be the ONLY option, the way it’s been done for hundreds of years, because that’s what everyone expects you to do… Why would anyone want to change the model that’s worked out for the wealthy 1% that earns over a million a year? “I could be next, I could be the rags-to-riches story of the future,” I could be just like Bill Clinton who grew up in a shack, and became President of the United States of America. That WILL be me. May be that will be you, but for the majority of us, there isn’t enough ROOM at the top for all of our dreams to come true. Somebody has to do the dirty work, some of us have to fail.
Anyway, I hear all the time, and see people spouting out “Live in the Now,” “Be your own person,” “Live in the moment.” But yet, nobody actually does it. I feel bad calling everyone hypocrites, myself included, but that’s exactly what we all are–the harsh truth of it. If you literally want to Live in the Moment, then their is no future for you to be dreaming about. There is no chance of failure, only progress. Progress…hmm.. I won’t say “only happiness,” because that’s not true, there is no chance of everything ALWAYS working out exactly how your want, because there are no highs without some lows. But what i’m saying is, if you don’t mold your present to meet your future aspirations, then there’s a good chance that you will make the most out of life. You know, the whole reason we’re here in the first place. Why not enjoy all of life, the whole howevermanyyears of it, and not just the last 40-50 of it. Do what You want, for yourself and those who join you on your quest for the opportunity to live in the moment. If you want to do something, why let the model of society stop you? High school+good college education+lots of sucking up=Money, power, and happiness. How often do you hear about people who HAVE made it, killing themselves or being clinically depressed. The model is clearly flawed. I don’t think that humans are meant to live the structured life that we have. Educate yourself, some of the greatest men in history never finished school!! Ben Franklin, Socrates, Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens, Frederick Douglas, JESUS!! The list goes on…
What I’m trying to do is get people to think for themselves like many of the great thinkers and philosophers did during the Enlightenment when they abandoned religious intolerence (the world isn’t round because the Bible doesn’t say so!), and started using the minds that we are so blessed to have! We are more connected than ever before, but we’re more disconnected as a culture, as a species than every before as well. We have the access to computers, to the internet, to books and it’s all free. Teach yourself something, pick up a book, become an expert and then pass on your knowledge, or ask others what they know, and discuss it. So much is at our disposal, and don’t be shy, you’d be surprised at how generous people can be.
So, at risk of sounding too revolutionary…Question authority. Do what you want to do, not what is expected of you. Know that there are others who will accept you, know matter how eccentric. Band together. Dream, but don’t chase it, let it come to you. Don’t just say “I live in the moment,” actually mean it, and do it at whatever cost. The only person you’re letting down is yourself if you don’t live your life to the fullest.