A couple of weeks ago I went to a dance show called Blaze at the Peacock Theatre. In sequences of hip-hop, street dance and break dance, the dancers were literally kicking ass. The choreographers, costume and stage designers had also kicked ass. The beats spoke with that primitive language. The whole thing filled me with energy and envy. At first instance, I envied the dancers, I wish I were them. But when I thought about it a little deeper, I decided that everyone should find their own niche to kick ass. When we start rolling in the right groove, no difficulty would be a burden and work would be a source of joy.
We are going back to the discussion about one's essence, the question of whether we have a destiny we must fulfill. Something that is out of our control, something that is a given to us when we take nothing as given anymore, yet something we must become aware of and respond to if we want to live a fulfilled life. Call it self-realization or fulfilling your potential: you have the responsibility to bring your self to this world. And I learned last night from Eat, Pray, Love that responsibility can be defined as the ability to respond. The ability to respond to the truth. The ability to respond to the truth of our selves.
Life is too short to live without this feeling of kicking ass. And I'm sorry to point out that, especially for us with a "liberal arts" background who don't really have an occupation, it is difficult to get an accurate sense of whether we are kicking ass. If we were doctors or engineers or lawyers or cooks or pianists or actors or dancers (or cab drivers, for that matter), we would not really be able to afford seriously messing up. But our wishy-washy titles (consultants, analysts, strategists, economists, all shades of civil servants, social scientists in universities and think-tanks, public intellectuals, even some "modern" artists) allow us to produce bullshit while considering ourselves to be kicking ass. And who is to tell that we are not? Our bosses and critics and clients are either bullshit artists themselves or they have even less clue. Even if we get one call or another wrong, the consequances will be so far down the road and/or our contribution so vague and anonymous that it will be difficult to track our failure back to our selves. Success, on the other hand, simply becomes a matter of conviction. If we can convince ourselves and others successfully that we are successful, then we are. Our collective existence becomes a Ponzi scheme.
Ownership of consequances is the surest way to feel the thrill of life and work. Alienation from our work and its consequances saves us from personal risk, but it also robs us from the ownership of true (as opposed to perceived) success and happiness. We should stop lying to ourselves.