Let It Burn

The world is dysfunction. I walk through the park – the Centennial Olympic Park, no less – and there are more homeless here than there are visitors. City workers set up for an unspecified event, a marathon from the looks of it. Tourists, myself included, snap shots of nearby statues, plaques, landscapes – landscapes decorated with those for whom survival is a struggle. They exist in the park the way the trees do, the way the benches do. They exist but invisibly so. This is normal city life, we have been told, and we have somehow been conditioned to accept.

A ten-minute walk from this park, a day earlier. I sit in a conference room with ten others. Four are there because they have to be, because they have been scheduled to present, same as me. Two are friends, two others share my alma mater: all moral support. Only the last two are genuine audience members. We’ve come from all over the country, the world in some cases, myself included, to be here. I wonder if anyone aside from my friends grasps the absurdity of it all. They debate regime complexes, breadth versus depth, theoretical frameworks. We’re so far removed from the world that it borders on delusion.

All manner of accommodations adorn the skyline from my perch in the middle of the park. The conference I’m here for is a four-day affair: thousands of attendants, hundreds of panels, dozens of rooms. I try to make sense of all of this. I know what we do matters, that society requires the pursuit of knowledge, the sharing and imparting thereof. But I sit here and look upon my surroundings and I sit here and think upon the conversation in those rooms a ten-minute walk away. And I try to make sense of all of this and I fail. We’re so far up our own asses it’d be funny if it weren’t my life. Maybe it’s funny anyway.

My friend got laid off yesterday. My mom has been up since 5 am for her job. A dozen homeless line up in an alleyway by the church, presumably for a warm meal. Meanwhile, I spent nine dollars for a beer at a basketball game last night. I received a free trip to this city to talk for ten minutes on a panel with two real audience members. Sometimes, on what I would say are my best days, I feel like I don’t want any part of this world. Let it burn. Except pyromaniac isn’t exactly a sustainable life philosophy. And this is ultimately the only world in which I exist. So where does that leave me?

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