I was jokingly challenged by a young and ambitious dude today to be perhaps the first and only person to enter “the system” in order to change it, without allowing it to change me. I declined his challenge, respectfully, on the grounds that many people of far greater integrity than myself have found themselves lost without hope of redemption in the snarls and twists of “the system”.
But I asked myself, throughout the day after this occurred, if I am really attempting to do anything else but this exact thing…
It is my belief, in short, that when confronted with the specter of fighting an immensely powerful foe that you cannot hope to defeat, the reasonable thing to do is run. I am not a martyr, I will not give up my life for an unidentified and uncommitted cause. So I am running from what I perceive to be the gradual mellowing of my existence into a thing that warrants no interest or attention beyond a passing glance and has no great impact on anything beyond the minimal local world it inhabits.
But in this running, I am not-so-secretly not really giving up. I am engaging in gradual guerilla warfare, slowly but surely attempting redefinition in the face of the abovementioned mellowing, with the ultimate aim of a sort of rebirth, personal, political, philosophical. At the bottom of this is the hope that I will, as I articulate it mentally, meet the people I am to become on the Road. And in meeting these people, I will pick up from them and become them to a degree, hold a bit of their essence within me and combine it with my own.
This coupled with a personal rebirth will signify the Road, the Running, and eventually the Fight, as the three stages of a hero-savior arc. I have grand plans for myself, but not at the expense of reality. It hurts me to be this person; it is not an easy or comfortable path to pledge myself to. However, the practical truth is that not doing it, or not at least attempting something similar, hurts more.
But this highlights my initial question: am I not, in essence, trying to sidestep “the system” while at the same time presenting an eventual formal challenge to it? By running from this foe, I am admitting that it is in fact a foe with power, and though I am not entering it in an attempt to change its nature, I am in direct opposition to that nature: the goal of that opposition being change.
Such vagaries and confusion in my life right now, even as I treasure every minute of it.