Go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, die. However decorated the millions of moments in between these things might be, these are the essential aspirations of the majority of the human population.
Most of us adopt these cultural goals with zero hesitation. Accept them as our own, as goals WE author, WE genuinely want, as if it’s coming from within our DNA itself. Who among us, stops to recognize the absurdity in this? Not that work, family, or children are bad. But how many of us march blindly toward these things at the cost of everything else we might throw our energy at, believing deeply they are our true destiny? The pinnacle accomplishment of life? Who recognizes most people pursue these things before ever realizing they’ve been culturally compelled to do so?
These circumstances were certainly clear to Charles Bukowski. As he characterized in this short video from the “Bukowski Tapes”. Transcript below:
“Generally speaking, you’re free until you’re about 4 years old. Then you go to grammar school and then you start becoming demented and solved, oriented and shoved into areas. You lose what individualism you have. If you have enough of course, you retain some of it… But most don’t have enough so you become watchers of game shows… you know, things like that.
Then you work the 8 hour job with almost a feeling of goodness, like you’re doing something. Then you get married like marriage is a victory, and you have children like children is a victory… but most things most people do are a total grind. Marriage, birth, children. It’s something they have to do because there’s nothing else to do. There’s no glory in it, there’s no steam, there’s no fire. It’s very, very flat. And the earth is full of them.”
– Charles Bukowski
What might we take away from this?
Perhaps before locking in a routine of work and family, we might seriously ask ourselves what else we want in life. Why are we here, what do we want to be, who are we? How many of us truly get to explore these questions before jumping on the work and family train?