That movie still speaks to me, and it's not because of its existentialist philosophy (to which I partially subscribe) or the fantastic acting of Ed Norton. It's because it helped me through a very rough time in my life, back when I had been dumped by my fiancee (3/21/03, R.M.E., I still haven't forgotten) and it felt like I had lost everything of value in my life. In fact, I felt like I had nothing worth living for, and I would have killed myself were it not for the fact that I knew that doing so would have hurt, in the most terrible and personal way possible, those few people left who still cared about me.
And then I watched Fight Club, and realized something:
- Evolve or Die.
- The Universe doesn't care which path I choose.
- Entropy, however, wants to keep me from evolving, because that's the path of least resistance.
- Therefore, anything that prevents me from improving myself is my mortal enemy, and I must kill it with fire.
Prison, I felt, would be a definite hindrance to my own journey of evolution.
It wasn't until later -- years later, sadly -- that I realized the second, crucial, element of this binary philosophy. It began at my Goth club, where I was quite happily depressed, when I noticed that some woman was giving readings of Tarot cards. I decided to get a piece of this action, because there's little I enjoy more than saying "Nope, you're wrong" when someone tries to analyze me.
I went into it blind, with all the arrogance of "If you're a psychic, you already know who I am and what I want." The woman obligingly cast my future, and one of the cards -- I don't recall which one, and I know she wasn't using a standard deck like a Rider-Waite -- had a dragon on it. I do recall that this card was in the "present" position, and she started to do a fairly typical spiel along the lines of the "Striking the Dragon's Tail" scenario.
"That's me," I interrupted her, stabbing the dragon with my finger. "I'm not that stupid farmer. I'm the dragon." I said this mostly because I was getting irritated with the predictability of the reading and wanted to throw her for a loop, but also because I dislike being categorized so neatly.
I was hoping she'd sputter in an amusing manner. Instead, she quietly murmured, "Friend, get out of your own way." I didn't really know what she meant by that, but I knew that whatever it was, it was important. Not because it was Tarot, but because she had hit a very sensitive and vulnerable spot I didn't know I had. I chewed on this for a long time, trying to puzzle it out.
I finally figured it out last year when I realized that I am the source of all my problems.
Of course, I'm not about to set myself on fire. That would be foolishly self-destructive. What I aspire to do, what I have been trying to accomplish for nearly a year now, is to systematically destroy those obstacles in my life which I have placed in my path. And believe me, it's hard going, because while it's very easy to say "I would sure be motivated to make more of myself if I was starving and freezing in a ditch," the human desire for comfort is a very hard thing to short-circuit. I suspect this is because our minds equate comfort with survival.
I guess, then, the entire point of my post is this: 2009 is my Year of the Phoenix. Either I burn away all my dross and am reborn, resplendent, and rise to the heights to which I know I can climb... or I burn out forever, and accept a life of mediocrity.
Evolve or die.
Self-improvement through self-immolation.
Come watch me, my friends. This is the year I burn brightly, and even if I fail, I'll go out like a viking.
It'll be a hell of a show.