Fight Club 9 years later
“The things you own end up owning you.”
Recently, my wife switched jobs and we ended up moving out of our four bedroom house and into a two bedroom apartment. We were only living in half of our house, and the rest was used for storage. Because of so much additional space, we became a bunch of pack rats, and accumulating a number of wedding presents didn’t help much. When it came time to move we found a number of items that we no longer, and arguably never, needed. I ended up taking four car loads of crap to our local Good Will, and we’re still finding stuff to get rid of.
Even with unloading a chunk of our belongings, we still had to move a lot more crap that we actually wanted to keep. Six months after we began the process of moving, we’re nearly finished and quickly running out of room to store any more. I thought back on Tyler’s anti-consumerism credo numerous times during this period. Why do I have all this stuff? Where did it all come from? Why am I hesitant to get rid of it? Within the arduous task of packing, moving, and unpacking all of my things, I realized that I had become a slave to my possessions. While I certainly haven’t sworn off all material goods and gone to live in an abandoned house, I have become more hesitant about any further purchases. I not only have to take into account the cost, which has become a much bigger factor considering we have to pay mortgage and rent each month, but also how much space the new purchase will take up. Instead of telling myself, “This is only ten dollars,” I instead have to ask myself, “Do I really need this?” More often than not, the answer is a resounding, “No.”
“I am Jack’s wasted life.”
I eked through college. I distinctly remember a day that was spent scrambling around campus trying to track down different professors and advisers to switch around my schedule at the last minute so that I could escape the complete fuck-up that I had created for myself. I had to change majors, reorganize my entire last semester, and take a summer course just so that I could graduate on time. My thinking at the time was that it didn’t matter what degree I had, just as long as I had a degree. Three years and a harsh kick in the ass by life later, I realize that I couldn’t have been further from the truth. I kept expecting that things would happen for me. My wife and I moved to a city with a large hospital, which would welcome me and my bachelor’s degree in natural sciences with open arms. It took me half a year to get a job at the hospital, and once I got there I found that most of the people I was working with were going to school to get their associate’s degree. I didn’t see it so much that I was wasting my life, — I had gotten married and was happy with the married lifestyle, — but I had wasted my potential. I kept telling myself that the job was a foot-in-the-door position, and that once I fulfilled my requirement to the job, I could move onto bigger and better things. That pipe dream lasted for numerous years and countless applications until we moved to a different area where I went through the same problem with finding a job.
I’ve realized that life isn’t going to do me any favors, and if I wanted something, I was going to have to get out and take it: a very Tyler mindset. However, instead of abandoning all inhibitions and shunning life as I know it, I decided to apply myself in a more constructive way. I’m on my way back to college to get another, more useful degree. I’ve decided to force myself into working at a job I hate to buy shit that I don’t need so that I can support myself long enough to get a job that I’ll enjoy, or maybe even love. It’s not what Tyler would want for me, nor is it what the narrator would do, but it is something in between. I am no longer Jack’s wasted life.
1. I use we here because even if I’m not sure that they actually shared my view on the film or why my friends did certain things, it makes me feel better to believe that I wasn’t alone in my thinking.
2. I showed this line to my wife and explained to her that it was the most Marxist line I had ever written. She read it, and looked up at me completely befuddled. “Groucho,” I replied.