Thursday, May 26, 2005

Are you taking over
or are you taking orders
are you going backwards
or are you going forward
- White Riot, The Clash

I grew up a punk rocker. From the very first time I heard The Clash and The Sex Pistols my life changed. All of the latent thoughts about rebellion, changing the status quo, working for social and political change and justice, the world outside my suburban New Jersey enclave, they all came together. I was 13.

Here I am all these years later and I have 23 years of life behind me since then. I went to University, got my degrees, joined the work world and made a life for myself. I have been dirt poor and unemployed, fairly well off, healthy, sick, happy, depressed, married, divorced, stuck in NY, traveling the world and always learning.

And still, 23 years later my heart and soul and who I am are made up of the things I am passionate about. Music, spirituality, comparative myth and religion, politics (in particular social justice) art, literature, travel, architecture, ancient cultures and antiquities all painted with a layer of the original punk rock attitude.

And all this time I have remained a staunch liberal, a questioner of authority, a poet warrior, a reader, a writer, a social activist.

And all this time I have also been a part of mainstream society insofar as having jobs, careers, a nice apartment, a buyer of consumer goods and an urban dweller.

And all this time I have always struggled to understand how I fit into the work world (I left the big corporate world 3 years ago for a more entrepreneurial life that led me to China). How do I reconcile my work and mainstream life with my deep, screaming, sometimes painful passion for music, art, literature, travel, food, culture and myth?

Have I done a good job of keeping "to thine own self be true?"

Sometimes I wonder if I am being a phony in the work world, simply putting on the face of the experienced and wise businessman while deep inside I am suffering from the imposter syndrome. Sometimes I feel I really am very good at what I do and that my passion for it is real. Sometimes I think its all a house of cards. Sometimes I think my real life is somewhere else.

But upon more reflection, I realize that to be engaged in society, with work, with friends and family, with making a living is not a mutually exclusive bit of unreality that makes a hypocrite of me and my passions.

I find that I can indeed be that punk rocker and work for change from within. That I can do my work and be who I am and keep a balance between the two. Time and experience have taught me to accept life on life's terms, to be true to myself, to work hard and follow my bliss and not what I think others think should be my path -and within that framework my screaming, sometimes angry and frustrated punk rock, creative soul can live along side and partner with my mainstream, career oriented everyday life.