Vagrant Aspirations

August 1, 2006

   

I plan for my eventual homelessness the way other people put money into their RRSP/401 Ks. This is not so much a tacit acceptance of failure as it a realistic understanding of my inertial being and poor judgement. I suppose I could just take steps to avoid it but that would violate the oath of minimal intervention in my own life I swore so long ago. You don’t pull out of dives in this part of town; you keep picking up speed and hope you generate enough thrust to smash through one side of the earth and out the other, to the clear skies beyond.  

   The prep work is divided into two categories; physical preparation, and cognitive reorientation. In terms of physical prep, I have my emergency locations scouted (A sweet cardboard dumpster on main and heating grate behind a strip club), my hunting ground for food (park outside of a Scotia bank with particularly trusting pigeons), a waterproof sleeping bag, and a Library card for book use and rudimentary internet access. Fairly basic stuff but I figure my descent into drug abuse/mental illness/total financial collapse will be so sudden and disruptive I should keep things simple. The mental prep is subtler but a great deal more involved. For years now I have been cultivating a romantic appreciation for squalor, a tolerance for social marginalization, and a near reverence for heroic self defeat.  I am not saying that it’s going to be a life of untrammelled bliss; once the novelty of total freedom and crazy talking wears off things are going to get pretty grim. I’ll have to deal with overcrowded shelters, toe rot, elitist hobo cliques, and packs of drunken frat boys trying to set me on fire.

  There is no question that’s a pretty rough deal, but that’s where my cognitive reassociation comes into play. Instead of being a groddy vagrant I get to be a tragic Dostoyevskyesque figure, shattered by circumstances yet somehow retaining a noble dignity that promises to return me to my once lofty heights. The other hobo’s will sense this and gravitate to me, my will and worth bleeding into them, fuelling their self respect and rage…thats right rage, the rage that fills all Hobos towards the society that pushed us down and never let us get back up. “Take it back my brothers” I would cry, as my vagrant warriors swept across the city, social detritus forged into a garbage sword I would plunge into the heart of The Man that tore away our lives. “Faugh a Ballaugh”, the world is ours, kings are paupers and paupers are kings!

     Admittedly my contingency plans are a little less grounded than most. The alternative though, living a life of cautious moderation until my long term preparations kick in so I can die in moderate comfort, just doesn’t have the requisite narrative juice. I like being happy, but I hate being content. You define yourself in opposition to struggle; character, depth, and personal growth are just functions of transitions between states. If you remove that crash and rebound you are left with a flat, unremarkable, perfectly serviceable life, and the sort of bland non being that accommodates it.

 

 A.J. Valliant

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