Certain songs, movies, and books have a way of inspiring me and forcing me to stop and think. Most of the time it's very unexpected, and I'm not always good at expressing why the work moves me so much, or why I love it, I just know that I do. It's like the song/movie/book reaches a deeper part of who I am and what I desire, even if I wasn't aware of it at first.
One of my favorite authors once said: "You don't just read a good story. A good story reads you." - C.S. Lewis
With all that said, I watched Fight Club this weekend. It was one of those movies that sort of slapped me in the face, shook me up a little, and challenged my way of thinking. In fact, I can honestly say it inspired me. If you've seen it, you're either laughing at me right now, or maybe a little worried. The movie is about a man who suffers from insomnia, is highly emotionally unstable, and basically goes crazy and destroys half of a city at the end of the story, with several bizarre, erotic, and violent scenes in between. I don't even know if I'd recommend watching it, but it spoke a truth to me. A truth I want to share.
Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God d*** it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy sh** we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.
Tyler Durden: It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
Tyler Durden: You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your f***ing khakis.
Narrator: When people think you're dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just...
Marla Singer: - instead of just waiting for their turn to speak?
Tyler Durden: The things you own end up owning you.
Tyler Durden: God D***! We just had a near-life experience, fellas.
Narrator: I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more.
Tyler Durden: Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing. Like the first monkey shot into space.
Tyler Durden: Do you know what a duvet is?
Narrator: It's a comforter...
Tyler Durden: It's a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then?
Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers. We're the bi-products of a lifestyle obsession.
Narrator: Look, nobody takes this more seriously than me. That condo was my life, okay? I loved every stick of furniture in that place. That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was ME!
Narrator: I'd like to thank the Academy...
Tyler Durden: We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.
Narrator: Martha Stewart.
Tyler Durden: F*** Martha Stewart. Martha's polishing the brass on the Titanic. It's all going down, man. So f*** off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns.
Narrator: You had to give it to him: he had a plan. And it started to make sense, in a Tyler sort of way. No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.
Tyler Durden: Self improvement is masturbation. Now self destruction...
Tyler Durden: Hitting bottom isn't a weekend retreat. It's not a goddamn seminar. Stop trying to control everything and just let go! LET GO!
Narrator: Every evening I died, and every evening I was born again, resurrected.
Tyler Durden: Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.
Narrator: Most of the week we were Ozzie and Harriet, but every Saturday night we were finding something out: we were finding out more and more that we were not alone. It used to be that when I came home angry and depressed I'd just clean my condo, polish my Scandinavian furniture. I should have been looking for a new condo. I should have been haggling with my insurance company. I should have been upset about my nice, neat, flaming little sh**. But I wasn't.
Narrator: It's just, when you buy furniture, you tell yourself, that's it. That's the last sofa I'm gonna need. Whatever else happens, I've got that sofa problem handled.
Tyler Durden: Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think every thing you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned- Tyler.
I'll be honest, there was a lot about the movie that I didn't agree with too. Still, these lines reflect a truth that cannot be ignored. It is easy to scorn at the crudeness, to scoff and deride such a philosophy. After all, such a way of thinking creates problems, chaos...nothingness. Still, I would like to challenge your way of thinking. These lines hit me with a truth: it's not just about the stuff. It about what the stuff means to us. We would work until our death for not merely basic necessities, but the best, the finest the world could offer. We have been told this will fulfill us. We believe it will. Our thoughts consume us with things, and those things enslave us. Truth is hard to swallow, it's hard to come to its terms. Even more, it's hard to change a lifestyle once the truth is known.
I find it fascinating how Fight Club, originally a book written by Chuck Palahniuk, completely non-religious, shows a truth about Christianity that possibly no other Christian book ever has. The purpose of the story was perhaps to reveal how small-minded, control-hungry, and ignorant we are. How we do not accept the reality of death, and how we live as if we will just keep on living forever. Palahniuk shows how this is empty. Not only this, it shackles our thinking. We become dull, numb to life and the reality of its end. How? How can we waste it seeking optimal comfort in...stuff? I want to live in such a way that inspires people. There is so little value in things. I want to give people courage to do things they never believed they could. I want people to want more from their lives. I want people to stop and think. Life can be a whirlwind of things to do, places to be, people to please, but we have control to stop it. I want people to not only know what they believe, but claim it! If you are Christ's, then for his sake, live! But not for comfort, not for the world. Whatever it takes. Think of the parable of the man who sold everything he owned for a single pearl. The single pearl--the Kingdom (Matt. 13:45-46). Live without reservation. Live in full. The small comforts you cling to will rule your life. Let go.
Because after all, "It's only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything."
Also, I really want to read this book.