Fight Club was one of the great movies of our time, and one of the worst marketed. Oh, yeah, there was that business about guys cutting loose with the barefisted brawls. I think competitive cyclists everywhere strongly relate. But the real message was its potent yet underappreciated "That which you own ends up owning you." Is there a better summary of culture, our society, our lives?
I've been moving these past few weeks. Peeling away the crusted shells of neglect. Stuff pushed aside, hidden away, suppressed. Old bike stuff. Old mail. Old memories. Course notes from school, written with detailed attention I can't imagine giving today. A different age. A different me.
In denial of our throw-away society. Old computer boxes, packed with form-fitting styrofoam. Sure, the boxes can be "recycled". But the foam? Where does that end up? Put it on the curb, let them haul it away. Would hanging on to it change anything?
Old modems. Why when you sign up for new DSL service is a new modem mandatory? Out with the new, in with the newer. Something's fundamentally wrong.
Old letters.... fond memories, suppressed guilt. Neglected relationships... family... friends. Some still living, others gone.
Some stuff stays; some goes. I tend to be fairly obsessive about not wasting. If I can't use something, find someone who can. Craigslist. Freecycle. This makes the process longer. Don't pack what's easily replaced, they say. But isn't that accepting the throw-away society? I, consumer. A trivial cog in an out-of-control machine of production, of destruction, of greed.
But it's all self-deception. When I'm gone, it's all going into the landfill or ocean or incinerator anyway. The machine grinds along. Yet I like to believe it has meaning. I have a responsibility to my stuff. To take care of it, to get proper use from it, to not waste it.
Moving is like a bit of a new birth. Reorganize, resort, trim down. But wouldn't it be wonderful to be free of it all? To start from scratch? That's the message of Fight Club. We need not be owned by our stuff. To be human is far more than that.
And it's that humanity I think we discover on our bikes, or when we run. We break free from the machine. We meet ourselves, with whom we spend far too little time.