Ralph Waldo Emerson
By: William G. Muir
I guess you could label me as a contrarian. As soon as words come out of someone else mouth I automatically take the opposite position. Even if it is on a point of view that I might agree with. Call it skepticism, call it playing devil's advocate, call it being a hypocrite. Call it whatever you like, that is just how I look at the world.
Having said that, what really gets under my skin is when some advises people that they should chose their own path. While I don't disagree with this sentiment, I do take issue with the tone that it is often delivered in. The attitude of the people who usually going around saying this kind of stuff is one of you are just to stupid to realize this yourself, so I need to point it out to you.
The walk your own path is never said after someone reads a poem by a teenage kid and say something like, hey this is really good. I like what you had to say. You really do have a unique outlook on the world. You should keep on developing your own voice. No this is often said by music or movie snobs when they find out that somebody has the nerve to like something mainstream.
I have to admit that I dropped out of the popular culture scene long time ago; but I don't look down my nose on those that are to it. That is what they have chosen to like, so good for them. I'm not like some hipster that believes everything in the mainstream is crap. I will admit there is stuff in the mainstream I don't, much in fact. I am not fan of Hip-Hop or Country music (is that still mainstream). I don't like Reality TV (except for Ice Road Truckers) or most movies that are not Sci-fi/Fantasy. I will admit there is crap out there in the mainstream. But there is also a lot of crap out there on the indie scene as well.
The things is hipsters are unable to see the crap when it is in there own back yard.
While I do not like a lot of what is in the mainstream, I will defend ones right to enjoy it, even the crappy stuff. In this country you have the right to like whatever dumb stuff, or smart stuff you wish. I say smart stuff because I do believe the mainstream has produced it fair share of smart things over the years. I would consider the Beatles, Seinfeld, and the old Merry Melodies/Looney Toons cartoons all to be examples of smart things that have come out of the mainstream.
I'm not trying to discourage anyone from going down the road less traveled. Not at all! All I am saying though is there is nothing wrong with being plain old vanilla also. Another thing, if you are going to travel down that path you need to be a strong willed individual. More times than not you are going to fail, and when you stumble on that path you only have yourself to rely on. This is not the way for the average person.
Let us be honest here, most people are not cut out to go it alone. We are a social species, this means we are at best when we have the support of others. Our ancestors back on the savannas of Africa survived when they cooperated with one another. They were able to bring down much larger game because they hunted like a pack animal. They would come to the aide of a fellow tribes person when a predator would attack. It was those that could work together that survived and gave birth to the next generation. Those that went off on there own didn't.
So most of us are born to be followers. We are never going to achieve our dreams. And why is that, cause you have people who are trying to encourage the followers to dreams as large as they can. With out any regard to how unrealistic these dreams can get. Only misery can come from this, once the bubble burst. I really believe has led to so many people being depressed. They are told that they should reach for the mountain tops, that they should not let anything stand in their way. More than that they are told that they are the only ones that can prevent themselves from achieving these unrealistic goals.
Well my friends I believe that is a lot of bullshit. We don't live a vacuum. The forces from the outside world are acting upon us just as much as they act upon everything else. The environment you are in can greatly dictate what it is you can accomplish in life. And yes even other people can block you from getting what it is you want in life. Ask anyone who never escaped poverty during there life time. Ask anyone who has lived in slavery. They will tell you that they had opportunities denied to them because the environment they lived in.
I hear you saying there are those that escape those conditions. I would agree with you there are some that do manage to climb up the social latter. But can we be honest, those are the exceptions. For every one person that is lucky enough to break through, there are thousands more that don't. They end up working two or three jobs just to keep from drowning.
Let's not kid ourselves here, most people are not going to every make it beyond the station they were born into.
That is not to say they cannot be successful during their life times. The whole problem as I see it is that we have too narrow of a definition of what it means to be successful these days. It use to be you were successful if you could provide a living for yourself and home for your family. Today if you are getting the latest iphone or driving a totally pimped out car you just haven't made it. And that is just for the working class people. Go a little higher on the economic latter and you find all kind of excesses that are the calling cards of success.
No wonder people are not happy today. They think that if that don't have as much or more than their neighbor they are failures. Today you are a winner if you have a lot of stuff. No longer is it how good a person you are, nor the skills that you possess or the home (in the abstract idea of a place that you live as opposed to the physical house you live in) that you are built for you and your love ones. These things don't count towards being successful anymore.
Pop culture tells us that stuff equals happiness, but pop culture is geared towards kids. If you are an adult you have no business looking to Jay-Z or Beyonce to see how you should live your life. You should have already developed these skills by now. How can you honestly expect your children to do what you say when you yourself don't even know how to live your own life.
So it is looking like I might have busted my own argument here. But like I said I am contrarian. In fact I am so much of a contrarian I will even disagree with myself. But I think my original point is still valid. You need to find what you are comfortable with and go with it. I don't care if it is inside the box or not. I don't care if you love everybody or can't stand one living, stinking soul on this plant. The only person you have to be true to is yourself. If you try to go around pleasing others you are just going end up miserable.