Fight Club 9 years later
“The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”
I don’t mean invincible in the ”I just dropped acid so I’m going to jump off a building because I think I can fly” sense; I mean it in the ”I sleep all day and party all night and life is always going to be this good because nothing bad can ever happen” type of invincible. Sure, as teenagers we had our fair share of problems that we felt we could never get over, but they were much more minor than we made them out to be. Failing that test wouldn’t be the end of the world; no one was ostracized as a result of being forced to stay home for one Saturday; your heart would mend after the girl of your dreams broke it. Through Fight Club we were able to see that there were some things in life – in fact, a lot of things – that simply weren’t important. The mini- fight clubs that we held weren’t just mindless rough housing, they were exercises that we could embrace and look back on when things looked bleak.
In moments of test anxiety or homework stress we could access our spirit animals and look at our problems from a new angle. As important as they seemed now, in the grand scheme of our life, the world and the whole universe, none of it mattered. With that mindset, we could handle any problem. Fight Club was like a self-help seminar wrapped in entertainment delivered straight from Hollywood’s womb. While we ultimately rejected the suicidal tendencies that Tyler preached, there was one aspect of it that still intrigued me.
“Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.”
People often claim that they’ve been given a second chance or a new lease on life. In order to achieve this feeling, they have to endure some life-endangering event or survive a horrible illness. Tyler finds a way to bypass the most harrowing of these events and still give his subjects the same feeling. By taking a ‘”human sacrifice’” (in the case of the film, a gas station clerk named Raymond K. Hessel) and threatening to kill him if he doesn’t drastically change his life for the better, Tyler forces the point home that death can come at any second, whether by a freak car accident, disease, or a maniac with a loaded .45. The question he posits is simply, How would you have wished you spent your time? It’s not a new idea by any means, but it’s presented in a unique and interesting (if sadistic) way. Dead Poets Society meets Saw, minus the twee and gore. To someone who had been spoon-fed candy-coated life-affirming TV-after-school-special movie-of-the-week everything’s-going-to-be-okay you-just-have-to-believe-in-yourself crap, it was more than interesting.
I wanted it to happen to me.
As a typical teenager, I couldn’t see beyond the realm of my own problems, even though I was perfectly aware that as a teenager, the realm of my problems was amazingly small and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. The usual life affirming pep talks couldn’t snap me out of this, and even the message of Fight Club wouldn’t have the same impact as actually becoming a human sacrifice.
Fast forward to now and I’m working as a phlebotomist in a hospital. I no longer feel the need to be a human sacrifice because I’m confronted with the various faces of death in an every day environment. It’s hard to feel self-pity working on a cancer ward. Last Christmas, I had to leave my family early on Christmas morning, drive for three and a half hours and then go to work that night. I spent Christmas evening on the intensive care unit, drawing blood from critically ill people. By comparison, I had a pretty good Christmas.