A few months back I posted a clip from Fight Club touting a version of the American Dream many of us don't like to think about, a world in which each day many of us go to jobs we hate with people we can't stand to buy things we don't need. Tyler Durden, who we later discover is the main character's alter ego, rages on about the various ways in which an entire generation is waking up to the cold reality that most of us will never be rock stars or millionaires, a reality that flies in the face of the conventional American spirit of entitlement for a comfortable life in exchange for hard work.
For my generation and those just a bit younger than me, this recession has been an eye opening experience, bringing many of us to the realization that college degrees and 16 hour work days may not lead us to the future of our dreams but to a life rife with frustration, struggle and stress. Some of us have astronomical student loans that have become a barrier in meeting even our most basic needs. Or maybe we have a job where we do work that is demanding or not meaningful in any way but feel lucky to be employed. Perhaps we've struggled and achieved what we thought was success only to discover it was simply pay and prestige and we abhor what we've become. We've all just been trying to grow up and we're beginning to wake up to the notion that this version of success with a spouse, white picket fence and 2.5 kids is one of three things to most of us: unattainable, unfulfilling, or unstainable. And it sucks, to put it plainly.
In Fight Club, Tyler Durden is the founder of a group known as Project Mayhem that participates in acts of violent rebellion and vandalism throughout the city as an act of protest to this paradigm. Over the past few years through my family's unique struggles and in part because of the current recession, I've found myself many times staring out over this same mental precipice, awed at the futility, madness and beautiful chaos that life is and wondering how to proceed. I'm not one who is big on violence or on giving up, but we all need purpose, a reason for waking up each day. Fight Club was that reason for the fictional Tyler Durden, but that's not me. What I am passionate about is solutions, forward movement, and positive change. I've chosen SemiFarmed as my Project Mayhem, my rebellion against the slow death of the American Dream.
The idea for SemiFarmed and its name spun out of the lyrics of a Third Eye Blind song from what seems like ages ago, back when I imagined a world of possibility without limitations. Although I'm not really a fan of that band or their music, the song was hugely popular then and one line in particular has rung through my head all these years I've worked in retail, searching for my place..."I want something else to get me through this life..." SemiFarmed is my Green revolt, my act of taking back my career path, my happiness and redefining my success in the face of the chaos, just with chickens and plants instead of violence and destruction.
I can't control what happens to the stock market any more than I can single-handedly end global warming or end world hunger and I can't manufacture hope for other people, though I'd love it if I were an inspiration to even one person. I will never be President or CEO or have my own band or be rich and famous. The harsh reality is I will probably always struggle and be lacking in one resource or another: money, time, patience...but struggle is part of life, part of what makes us human. It's not truly living without it. What I can control is my response to struggle. Rather than let it consume and destroy you, use struggle to build upon. It's a foundation for hopes, career changes and introspection if you let it be. And a great place to grow carrots and raise livestock as well, I'm hoping.
Something's got to give in these crazy times to move us forward...What's your Project Mayhem? Does it change the world or make it a better place?