Life, the financial part of it anyway, thus far in my short existence, has been a matter of acquiring and paying off debt. Debt is often spoken about as a weight, as if balls and chains are fastened to the debtor’s ankles, a cross borne on the his back, a weight on his shoulders, a necklace of iron around his neck. I think of debt, in our times at least, as an omnipresent force, like gravity pulling us down (gravity is more complex than that, but this is a rant). Mr. T comes to mind as an illustration of this first analogy. The man’s neck and shoulder muscles suffered as a result of his love for bling. With each luxury item he bought the heavier the weight--the greater the strain. Those that will charge a plasma screen television on their credit card to impress their friends at a Super Bowl party are an example of taking on a needless and reckless financial burden. Those people I do not feel sorry for.
Debt as a force is something else. No matter how hard I try to get out of debt, I can’t get out of it. My strategy thus far has been to live a minimalist life style. I enjoy food and electricity and cable internet and sewage. The only way to stop from paying for those things would be to become a starved monk in the wilderness. These things will not put you in debt as much as they are required to live a healthy life. I have tried to avoid debt by not buying toys.
This is a strategy of simple living--of working for what you require. I am rethinking this strategy. Every time I pay off a debt and I mean within hours or even minutes, I manage to get in more debt. It is like living a debt free life is in violation of natural law. Whether it be a medical accident or a car accident, a blown car part or a parking ticket, debt pushes down on me. I don’t have a car and yet the justice system demands that I buy car insurance just incase something happens. It hasn’t happened yet, but pay for it anyway! No, my strategy of simplicity seems to be an inadequate response to the craziness of a bureaucratic, materialistic, market manic, civilization. Living like a poor yet happy college student is no longer an option for me. There is but one option left other than dropping out and that is playing the game. I am confronted with playing the game and that gives me nightmares.
But playing the game has rules built into it to insure that one does not violate the law of debt: higher taxes, the cost of maintaining a youthful and business friendly appearance, a mailing address, etc. People with high paying jobs, middle class Americans, are in extraordinary debt. And for what? A vision of the future?
We are naked when we come into this world and naked when we leave it. Dust to dust.
I imagine myself walking barefoot through a wood on a carpet of moss in a weightless white robe and a staff with a glowing orb mounted on the top. I’m eating wild raspberries from my leather fanny pack. How light I feel!
In my night mares I am stumbling over a charred landscape under the weight of an enormously huge and clumsy backpack. Inside is a three to four bedroom house, two bathrooms, a fancy espresso maker and a house full of furniture, a car, a job at Wal-Mart and a blue vest with my nametag on it hanging in the break room, insurance, bills, taxes, and the implications and responsibility of living in a nanobot techno future.
Get a damn job, you hippy, you might say, and you’d be right. I only wish there was away to get a head with out giving The Man a rim job...that the stucture of society were more like a rocket ship to heaven and less like the gravity field of a brown dwarf pushing a major portion of it's citizens into debtor's prision.