“Most of the young men of talent whom I have met in this country give one the impression of being somewhat demented. Why shouldn’t they? They are living amidst spiritual gorillas, living with food and drink maniacs, success-mongers, gadget innovators, publicity hounds. God, if I were a young man today, if I were faced with a world such as we have created, I would blow my brains out.” — Henry Miller in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, his brutal, unabashed take on American capitalism and abject materialism
Imagine reading this in Makati (or in The Fort or Ortigas Center or Eastwood or other such places), at a Starbucks perhaps while waiting for somebody, and looking at the suits and ties around you fiddling with their iPhones and Blackberrys and Samsung whatevers, or hunched over their MacBook Pros, or engaged in passionate talk on topics ranging from social media to Steve Jobs to getting a tan to market analysis, and you realize, Jesus!, Miller’s words are as true today in my country as they were in 1945 America.
And then you wonder if that feeling you have is amazement or disgust.
In an interview published on the fashion blog(!) Feather Factor a day after Valentine’s, George R.R. Martin, bestselling author of the popular fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, has this little piece of advice to share:
“The best advice I ever received was a long time ago — to find a job you love. People have to find their happiness in life. I see and have met in my life so many people who don’t like their work. They do their work for money and they do it to support their family or something like that, which of course is understandable. But so many of them are miserable. And it’s weird to me because we work for so much of our lives, we do it for five days a week, we spend a majority of our lives at work. And money aside, you need to do what makes you happy. You have to find something you love.”
Couldn’t have bumped into this article at a better time. Now I really need to think about what I really want in life and come up with a big decision — a decision that may be unpopular to many but is a must in the name of self-preservation. But that’s getting ahead of myself.
These words drip with so much truth that reading this is painful.
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.
“This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery – isolation.
“Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine.
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
Happy birthday, ye old bastard. Now swigging cheap local brandy for you.