This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time. — Tyler Durden, Fight Club
This past weekend we watched Fight Club. We were clearing out the attic to get ready for a garage sale and discovered a huge box of VHS movies. To us, this was a defining movie of the angst and frustration we felt as we were beginning to move from the fun and playfullness and hope of childhood into the bleak redundancy of young adulthood. Who knew that our wishes to become an important executive, changemaker, musician, writer or whatever, would require endless hours of doing completely pointless tasks for people appeared to have no passion at all?
In fact, the most difficult thing for me to understand (and something that still baffles me) was watching how hard people would work to get out of doing something. Whether it was an excuse, a lie, delegation, feigned forgetfulness or, the especially skillful.. getting promoted out of or leaving a job 1-2 months before all your critical projects that got you the attention of outside recruiters was exposed as a big fat mess.
The source of our generations angst was described by Tyler Durden here:
Tyler Durden: “Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
And as I watched the movie I was kind of stunned. I do remember that feeling that there was nothing to really define our generation. We were Generation X. Nothing going on, no wars, no depression, nothing to be passionate about. We occupied ourselves with material things. Instead of out-doing the leaders, we were one-upping each other or dropping out flamboyantly. We were either competing to consume the most real estate, cars, clothes, college degrees, etc. Or competing to fiercely avoid the definition and commitment of real estate, cars, clothes, etc.
And what do we have now? Economic bust. Massive war expense and loss of life. Leadership that excels at identifying the problem and identifying weakness in others, but no leaders who communicate vision. No one who will step up to define the goal and lay out the steps to get to that goal. No one who will stand up and be accountable.
Have we given up on goals? Did we create a drama for ourselves to give our lives meaning and then suddenly realize, like the main character realizes in the end of Fight Club that conflict doesn’t reflect meaning any more than violence reflects passion.
So, we have given up on ourselves and on our future. It just seems too hard to get the work done and now we are the excuse makers, the liars, and the finger pointers. We are the ones who are working so hard to avoid accountability and dodge responsibility. We are leaving massive debt, toxic waste, chronic illness, illiteracy and addiction for our kids, but we are too busy pointing fingers to actually fix anything.
But this isn’t who we are! We are strong and smart, squandering our potential. And it is just crazy!
Narrator: This is crazy…
Tyler Durden: People do it everyday, they talk to themselves… they see themselves as they’d like to be, they don’t have the courage you have, to just run with it.
Let’s muster up some courage and be the change we wish to see in the world.