Monday, April 13, 2015

My life has a narrow calling, and no one can "give me the words"

David Brooks has an op-ed on Sunday Review in the New York Times, “A Moral Bucket List” (and I never saw the rather irreverent film), link here
Brooks talks about the tension between striving for independence and individual achievement and earned accolade, and the willingness to recognize that sometimes “you” really need to depend on others, and let them depend on you.  He talks about the “stumblers” who live a life out of balance, almost to the music of Philip Glass.  Meritocracy only makes sense when “Ordinary People” (another famous movie, from 1980) matter to the achiever.  A “journalist” like me, or a creator of Facebook (and therefore alien ruler of the world) faces a certain paradox.
My life has followed a certain course, and certainly its Second Act since “The Layoff” (really since the 1990s, when the Clinton years started) partly because of a certain kind of Blow or Setback that did occur when I started college, and a series of paradoxes that would build on this.  I don’t imply that anyone else should do what I did, for feel the same constraints.  No one else has quite my own life narrative.
However, I cannot tolerate an existential challenge to the course I took.  I can’t negotiate with coercion.  I can no longer let someone else “give me the words” to hawk their wares.  I cannot just recruit people to someone else’s cause.  I cannot “save ‘you;” or make “you” all right if “you” aren’t already. I still need to focus on winning arguments, but not converts.  That isn’t to say that some past bouts with salesmanship (like the ballot access petitioning drives with the Libertarian Party of Minnesota in the late 1990s) weren’t valuable experiences. 

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