Friday, April 24, 2015

A Life-Affirming Response to a Fuck-it-All State of Mind

I live in a neighborhood full of peril. There are many desperate young people who can easily make an impulsive wrong turn that they will eternally regret.

About a block east of my home is a military recruitment office. Now when I say that, you may envision me living in a barren slum. Because that’s where military recruitment offices tend to set up shop. You don’t tend to see them in the posh suburbs because most people turn to the military for the same reason they turn to Jesus. When I hear people testify about the day they suddenly turned to Jesus, I never hear, “It was a fine sunny day. I had a great job and a fine family. So that’s when I asked Jesus to please save me.” No, these the-day-I-signed-up-with-Jesus stories are usually tales of great distress. I imagine that’s also usually the case when someone suddenly signs up with the military.

But I don’t live in a barren slum at all. In fact, just down the block from me to the south is an oooh-la-la fingernail spa where one can treat oneself to an array of pampering services, including a Brazilian bikini wax.

But also in my neighborhood is an arts college. So now you can begin to see the diabolical logic behind placing a military recruitment office around here. The military is betting on a steady flow of lost and rejected souls. Scenario: You’re a a student at the arts college. You pour your heart into your student film and your professor dismisses it as derivative. Or maybe you’re beaten out by some snotty rich kids for the lead in Streetcar. You’re wandering the streets, reeling from the blow, drowning in the quicksand of a fuck-it-all state of mind. You see the recruitment office. An oasis! A beacon on the stormy sea! You sign up. And soon you wonder what the hell you just did. You’d give anything to take it back. It’s like getting blackout drunk and waking up with a Barry Manilow tattoo.

But all is not hopeless: There is another scenario. While wandering the streets steeped in deep dismay, you instead pass the spa and see the Brazilian bikini wax signs in the window. That sounds like an exotic and rewarding career, you think to yourself. You decide to become a practitioner. You picture yourself in Brazil, an eager apprentice learning from the masters.

Isn't that a much happier ending? It’s a life-affirming response to a fuck-it-all state of mind.