A few months back I saw a movie called “Cold Souls”, a rather bleak exploration of the midlife crisis of a creator – a writer in this case. In the movie, a company in New York was offering “soul storage. Their catch phrase was “is your soul weighing you down?”. There’s a real website for this fictitious company – just don’t try to purchase their services. To make a long story short, you could have your soul extracted and live “free” without this burden; that’s exactly what Paul Giamati’s character does but finds the situation not entirely to his liking and when his soul is in danger of being lost he must reclaim it – sounds corny, but that’s how it goes down. While the movie failed to impress me much, it did raise an interesting question. The things we know, the things we have done, all that we have experienced makes us a lot less open to happiness. Does that sound silly to you? It might be, in your experience. This is concept is touched upon in “Up In The Air” as well, where George Clooney is a man who lives with zero attachments, shying away from anything that might bring him down to earth – like love and family. Of course, ultimately, the writers want you to believe that he is secretly just longing for that special connection and cannot achieve happiness without it.
As time passed, digging a little deeper I came to a more immediate fright – what if all the training and education I got is preventing me from finding the right career for myself? Having worked my way through a certain college I was convinced that this is the path I have to follow, this is the field I need to be working in. But I will tell you, it is not making me happy at all.
I am surrounded by people just like me, who have finished the same education. I am sure at least some enjoy their work greatly. But that is not the point. I had the chance to meet people lest constricted by their education. People who have not graduated from college, people who truly believe that the world is their oyster, and nothing is beyond their grasp. I wish I had that outlook on things. In my mind, I have set up a prison, I have to be a software engineer I tell myself – that is what I worked so hard to be. So I must follow this path, what else is there for me?
I find myself with no artistic talent whatsoever and knowing only one trade – that of computers. And it is not making me happy. I am really screwed you could say, right? “Je suis un type foutu” like my old friend J.P. Sartre said in his “Les Chemains de la Liberte”. A path has been chosen – well, I have chosen it – and now I am rejecting it. So I can either man up and push through or I can search for the key to my cage.
Bottom line, how do you draw the line between building knowledge and keeping an open mind about your life? Are we ruined by education or can we still be free?
I haven’t given up yet.