Archive for September, 2010


Yeah, Reality Bites

As one could easily discern from previous rants on this page, I’m trying to figure out what to do with my life.  Elders are supposed to ooze wisdom, so I’ve been asking various people in different fields what they recommend.  So far this has garnered useless “advice” like follow your heart and it’ll all work itself out.  Much as it annoys me, I expected that kind of answer.  I was prepared with retorts like, “But what if your heart doesn’t know what it wants?  What it you don’t have dreams to believe in the power of?”  I was not, however, prepared to respond to the following advice, which will most likely go down in the annals of T history as some of the most useless and vaguely insulting advice ever received: “Why don’t you just get married?”

Seriously?  Why don’t I just get married?  Well, for starters, that’s not a career.  But, the advice-giver argued, if I had someone supporting me, I could pursue all the things I’ve dismissed as being impractical careers, like writing and ghost hunting.  I believe this is roughly how the conversation went:

Me: “So he can leave me for someone younger and prettier once he gets sick of me?”

AG (advice-giver): “Stop being so negative.”

Me: “I don’t want to depend on someone else for my livelihood.  That’s not practical.  And it’s not a career!”

AG: “But think how much happier you’d be with someone to take care of you!”

Me: “It’s not the 1950s!”

It especially disturbed me that this advice was coming from a successful business woman who’d made a name for herself through hard work, dedication and, let’s be honest, a healthy dose of following her dreams.  Aren’t successful women supposed to encourage the next generation to take up the mantle of feminism and glass ceiling-shattering and equal pay for equal work, etc etc?  I guess she didn’t get that memo.    

I could dismiss this as an isolated incident, except variations on this same “find a man and you’ll be happy” scheme seem to be following me around.  This came to my attention last night while viewing the uninteresting film Post Grad.  The main character played by Rory…er, Alexis Bledel finishes college with honors and expects her degree to immediately open doors for her.  Instead, she discovers that hundreds of other eager young applicants are vying for every dream job, and life won’t be nearly as easy as she predicted.  (Duh.)  What disappointed me about this movie, aside from the fact that it wasn’t very good excepting the presence of the wonderful Jane Lynch, was that our heroine finds happiness not in another field, or by going to grad school or taking on a lower-paying job, but by falling in love with her guitar playing best friend (if you didn’t see this coming within the first few minutes of the film, I feel no guilt at spoiling the plot for you). 

I couldn’t help but compare this film unfavorably to my favorite post graduation story, Reality Bites.  But then I realized that as much as I love Reality Bites, the ending is basically the same: honor student Winona Ryder realizes she’s in love with her guitar playing best friend.  Rather than landing a great job or internship, she lands Ethan Hawke (not too shabby, though).  End of story. 

Perhaps the point these films are trying to make is not that finding a cute guy is the key to happiness, but that a career isn’t the answer, either.  Perhaps the point is to surround yourself with people you love and discover what makes you happy, and once you do that, the career stuff will sort itself out. 

So I guess we’re back to following your dreams.  Sigh.

T

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It’s lonely being an atheist.  It’s really a believer’s world.  Just saying the word “atheist” puts people on edge.  Believe me, I know.  The reaction I receive the most, though it’s entirely illogical, is “do you worship the devil?”  Well see, the devil is a Biblical character, the evil counterweight to the goodness of God.  You can’t very well believe in the devil (let alone worship it) and not also believe in God.  So no, can’t say I do worship the devil.  Being an atheist doesn’t mean I champion evil and destructive forces in the universe; it simply means I don’t believe in God.  I can’t.  I genuinely admire people born with strong faith.  With the exception of extremists who like to use the Bible to justify all sorts of terrible things, most people who believe in God take great comfort in it.  I would love to have some force in my life to cling to in times of distress or uncertainty; the idea that some benevolent force is interested in my well being is truly lovely.  But the problem is, I just don’t believe it.  I tried for most of my youth to reconcile what I heard in church and confirmation classes with what I really felt, but it couldn’t be done.  I want to believe, but I don’t.  So where does that leave me?

A pet peeve of mine is being told I’m going to hell for not believing in God (gee, why would that bother me?).  I’ve developed a couple of responses to this that no one’s been able to refute yet:

1.  If you believe that God created everything on earth, then when I was made, God apparently left out the faith component.  Why would I be punished for something completely beyond my control and maybe even predetermined for me by God?

2.  So even if I live my life as best as I can, trying to always do the right thing and not harm anyone, I’ll still burn in hell with deeply awful people like Hitler just because I don’t get anything out of going to church?  How does that make sense?

Really, if a person could choose to live in a world with an all-loving, all-knowing creator rather than an empty, vaguely meaningless existence, who would choose to be an atheist?  Just as the Christians and Muslims I know (I don’t know any Jews or I’d include them, too) didn’t choose to believe in God, I didn’t choose not to.  So take it easy on us atheists.  We’re in the minority, we don’t have a cool best friend like Jesus looking out for us, and this is the final stop on our journey.

T