Friday, September 24, 2004


Click here for mood music

There are many pages to the book of my life. Some that I am proud of, others that I would change. But there are no regrets and I bravely claim every move I've made as my own.

Though I was born in the U.S., I grew up in a major South American city, surrounded by poverty and the deep rooted classism that emerges in people's subconsciousness when surrounded by an utter lack of upward mobility in most non-professional jobs. Those who were born underprivileged stayed that way, and passed it on to their children.

The only realistic expectations the country places on the public school system is to teach the poor to read, write and add. Those poor, deprived children (not because they don't have Gameboys or Air Jordans, but because they live on dirt floors and sleep on rush mats) will grow up with the modest hope of finding labor in the cities, migrating from the fields and countryside in search of better possibilities that never materialize.

The cities become grossly overcrowded and polluted without the means to offer employment to the ever growing masses, who eventually turn to crime in a desperate effort to survive the streets. It's a vicious cycle of vastly complex consequences. The causes of which are hard to determine and control, especially in a third world economy that doesn't offer the resources needed to create positive change.

I grew up in a middle class home, a family of four children with both parents. Upper middle class, actually. My father was an airline executive. We attended private schools, lived in a guarded community, and enjoyed membership to the Country Club, where we learned to play and compete in golf, tennis, and swimming. On the weekends we traveled away from the city to our home in the country. Our farm, we called it, but it was more of a vacation home.

At the young age of sixteen I became an enlightened being. Coupled with a new found love for universal literature, I discovered a gift for guitar playing and songwriting. I fancied myself an intelectual and an artist. Always weighed down by heavy volumes and an ever present six-string strapped to my back. I eagerly espoused leftist ideologies and glorified them before those who would listen, and sang protest songs wherever I went.

It's easy to renounce wealth and private property when you have none of your own, yet you live handsomely at your parents' expense. There's no real sacrifice involved. Your theories are entirely subjective, and awaiting to be put in practice during a distant future. It's safe to subscribe to radical beliefs, because your occupation is understood to be that of a student. You're allowed to be an activist who doesn't practice what he preaches.

My friends and I renounced our families' names and wealth, but only in spirit. We descried the establishment and condemned their policies. We wandered around in the parks and bazaars, singing and preaching, pushing marxist ideas and denouncing the church.

Our heroes were the post-revolutionary cuban troubadours, who sang of unity, patriotism and revolution. We played their records and sang their songs.

But ours were romantic notions. Though we wanted change, we stopped short of condoning a violent revolution. The marxist guerillas that populated our rural regions, who recruited the poor to carry out their murderous work and provided no positive political agenda for the country's benefit, were never viewed as anything other than outlaw groups looking to support their anarchic endeavors by kidnapping and killing innocent people, and participating in the illegal drug trade.

We were angry young men, and we were pretentious enough to think we'd be fighting the system forever; deluded enough to believe that our ideas were the right ones, and that we'd continue to cherish and develop them for the rest of our lives. So blurry the road that lie ahead is, but so sharp and clear we thought we saw it.

Eventually life takes over, and we mold our creed to our situation. Our needs define and limit our immediate desires and our hopes are drawn from our "best of all futures" scenario. The fire inside us subsides, and we give way to the comforts that modern life offers us. In essence, we sell out.

I'm not sure how I got here, or what triggered my ability to derive pleasure and contentment from an average, normal life. I always viewed satisfaction as failure. But I've no longer a need to change things, or to pursue a different outcome for my life. I've learned to accept survival as a worthy objective.

Now, I keep my political idealogies to myself. What's more, I've made a conscious effort to keep my opinions on politics and religion off this blog. And though I'm plum full of opinions on every subject under the sun, I'd rather express them in a different forum.


Vadergrrrl said...

You are such an incredible writer. Classism divides us all and definately effects our choices in life.

I agree about keeping politics off blogs. Or at least my blog.


Amber said...

Mick, that song was stunningly beautiful; thank you for sharing.

Your piece touched me; I, too, used to be very idealistic when I was young. I've become much more jaded, more bitter over the years, especially politically.

I'm not as compassionate as I once was. I'm not as willing to sacrifice my life and burn myself on a pyre of my beliefs anymore the way I once was. Today, I want to live my life in peace and safety, both me and my loved ones. I have major problems with anyone who threatens this world I've created, something I've carved out of nothing.

I don't think that's selling out. Maybe it's because when we were younger, we hadn't built anything worth protecting yet. :-)

C. Fish said...

Wonderful post!

Sarah McBroden said...

I read this piece a number of times over the weekend, looking for something I could identify with, but I can not find it. I have not seen poverty the way you saw it. I have never felt the need to go against what was expected from me. I never felt passionate enough to fight it. I wonder if that is because of the different places we grew up in or the difference in our ages. Perhaps it is both.

I did listen to the song and the song made me wonder if you still played and if there is still a six string in your life. I wondered what feeling the music gives you now and I wondered if you would share that with us here.


Amber said...

Ditto what Sarah suggested! I would love to hear some of your music, Mick. :-)

Anonymous said...

That was an exceptionally powerful post and, maybe, some of the best and most touching writing I've seen here. You just seem to go from strength to strength. Thank you.


MICK said...

Very kind comments, thank you all very much!
Hurricane Jeanne left me without internet (no physical damage, really, so I'm not whining about it) and I hadn't been able to read them. I'll try to address them in future posts.


Amber said...

I'm glad you checked in; I was starting to get worried. I was just going to leave a comment asking if the latest hurricane affected you badly.

Glad you guys are okay! :-)

MICK said...

Sorry, Amber. Didn't mean to worry anybody. We made it through alright. Thanks for your concern!