Tuesday, March 21, 2006

AND THAT BOY BECAME A MAN

Often I lament the fact that it is not entirely acceptable in our culture to go on walkabout. Recently, and increasingly, I have had to fight the urge to get up from my desk and walk out of my office, never to return. Perhaps even more distressing to my employers or my future therapist is that I don't simply wish to walk out the front door of the large steel and glass building in the heart of Corporate City in which I find myself gloomily trudging into most mornings, but rather that I wish to continue walking for a very, very long time. Think of Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas. Dude just walked to Mexico and didn't come back for five years. I like that kind of moxie. Nevermind the moral repercussions of such an act; I don't have a small child or a wife I regularly beat, so the only people that would worry about me would be non-dependents, family and friends and so forth. Their fears would surely be assuaged by the eventual postcard, postmarked from Belize or some such place, "Craig here. Didn't die. See you when I get back."

Aboriginal cultures knew the importance of walkabout. A rite of passage, a crucible, a forging in the primeval fires of survival and solitude, it was the ultimate test, a test that asked, "do you deserve to be alive?" Today we have the SAT's which ask, slightly more sarcastically, "are you as smart as your parents hope you are?" Sure, you may know how to divine the arcsin of an unknown angle, but do you know how to filet a box turtle? Could you create a net made from twigs and branches and the pulpy bark of a birch tree to catch fish in a stream? More importantly, would you know how to find a stream? An underground current?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it saddens and angers me to know that it is more important to have a solid resume with impressive references than it is to walk into a future employer, stand with stiff back, and exclaim, "I have sifted through the scat of muskrats and I can tell you that they do not prefer berries to minnows." It shouldn't matter that the position for which I am applying (and for which I have no applicable credentials) is Aerospace Engineer or Federal Food Safety Inspector - it should be impressive enough that I am the kind of person who has taken it upon himself to realize both the brutal harshness of the natural world and the impossible miracle of our existence. I may not know what constitutes "drag" or "lift", but I do know that I have watched swallows fly in swarms among the endless plains of the Peruvian lowlands and have killed a great many of them through the art of slingshot. This, I believe, would give me some legitamacy in talking about matters of flight. Of course, I highly doubt that NASA would see it that way, and that is exactly why this world is doomed for failure. We've screwed the pooch.

They say that Modernism is an endless march into the future. I say, "go back." It's not that hard. We'll start with walkabouts, and I'll be the first to go. If it works, and I come back alive, I will share my knowledge with you. I will also share the tanned hides of jackrabbits and water bladders I've constructed from the organs of South American antelopes. If I perish, then remember me not as the idealistic young fool that "the world" will attempt to paint me as, but as the first pioneer venturing into a new wilderness: the wilderness of our own souls.

8 comments:

Trevor Jackson said...

You know, most of us just shut up and put our iPods on shuffle. But then you had to go bringing up Paris, Texas, and primeval fires and crucibles and muskrat scat.

Dammit. I'm in the wrong job.

Mathis said...

If you're in a job where you can put your iPod on shuffle at work, then you're in the right job.

Trevor Jackson said...

Shit. Grass is greener, huh.

Anonymous said...

If this is the "right" job then I desperately want to be somewhere "wrong".

p.s. You aren't the onliest person who contemplates abandoning his post. You just have a popular blog in which to vent said frustrations. And now I'm using that same popular blog to springboard upon my own soapbox.

The circle is somewhat complete . . . and completely pathetic.

Trevor Jackson said...

Also? Someone just brought me a cookie.

But it wasn't very good. Kinda cakey.

Danny Fisher said...

*SHAKTI MANN is out of the office on walkabout. He will return on the 28th. If this an emergency, please e-mail his secretary. Thanks and have a great day.*

Ian said...

A friend of mine told me that nowadays grad schools and employers want more than just academic success--"they want you to have gone to Africa to dig wells or something." So now aspiring MBAs are competing for opportunities for walkabout-type endeavours in order to beef up their résumés. So it's not impossible that some future potential employer may in fact be impressed by your ability to glean information from rodent feces.

Mathis said...

That is heartening, Ian. Perhaps we are making progress after all.