Hello, travelers! Welcome!
I hope you found the climb invigorating, though I somehow doubt that you did. I know, I know, many of you are perhaps a little out of shape. Don’t be ashamed! Everyone who comes here enters like you, sweating, wheezing, quietly cursing that last hateful breakfast streusel under his breath. Calm yourselves. You’re done, for now. With that, at least.
By now, you may have noticed that your corporeal coils have been shuffled off. All that’s left you now is your slovenly, out-of-shape soul. Yes, it’s not pretty to look at. But that is why you’re here.
Now. Settle in. And listen up. And listen closely! I have made this very speech over one hundred million times, and you can only imagine how much I’d loathe to repeat it to you individually because you couldn’t keep your mushy, torpid brains focused for ten damned minutes.
Do I have your undivided attention?
This is orientation.
My name is not important. Just know that, in life, I was like you: worthless.
I died fat, useless, wrapped in satin sheets, heart filled with plaque and mind with cysts from disuse. I was a slug, physically and spiritually. Which is why my penance is to zealously guide you from the mountain of Purgatory to your salvation. It is a job that I do not take lightly.
And on that note: We’re glad you all made it to Purgatory. The temporary fire that you will soon experience is a damned sight better than the eternal flame experienced by those whose actions were irredeemable in life. Nor is your lot as desirable as those who lived pure lives, and whose reward began immediately upon ceasing to live. No, you are part of the great, unwashed average. How proud you must be, you perpetual c-plussers. How lovely to have made the cut! You squeaked by, just barely.
Let me explain something about sin. These mortal sins, these deadly sins, are the blueprint for this impossibly high Mountain, this vast machine whose purpose is to purge, and these sins, as the virtues that mirror them, are all borne of the same thing: LOVE.
Yes. You heard me, love. Sins come from love. Virtues, of course, are created when love is directed properly toward good and honest ends. Sins, however, are created when that love is misguided. Those whose love was directed toward evil things, the wrathful, the envious, the prideful, are on the three terraces below. Those whose love toward good things was too perverse, the gluttonous, the greedy, the lustful, are above. Everyone on every other terrace loved the wrong way, loved too strongly. But you. Your love. Was not misguided, per se. It was merely… deficient.
Because of your tendency toward the median, you now find yourself on the Fourth Terrace of Mount Purgatory, the very middle, that place reserved for those whose sin was Sloth. That incredibly middle-of-the-road, vanilla sin.
If Lust was a color, it would be a dark crimson, pulsing with life and slick with the frenzied glandular discharge of passion. Wrath would be the deepest, most unfathomable black. Envy an acid, vivid green.
Sloth is beige.
You are here because your inability to get off of your fat asses in life rendered you all completely incapable of committing worse sins than this. It kept you from feeling anything too strongly. Your laissez-faire attitude toward existence kept you out of real trouble, while the rest of humanity was off overeating and looting and fucking strangers and snorting and shooting up and generally having a better time than you.
Nope, no hard sinning for you! No, instead you chose the easiest route, the sin of inactivity, of inertia; you slept in, refused to put on pants in the morning, you lay in your filth on the sofa each day, allowed your bank accounts to deplete, your loved ones to wander off into the world in search of men-of-action! The lethargea was just too intoxicating for you, wasn’t it?
Well. Here we are, at any rate.
I’ll now explain the penance that will eventually purge you of this Sloth, and allow you to pass through the Garden of Earthly Delights and into eternity. It may seem somewhat cruel on its face, given your current state. But it is for your own good! Think of it as a very long, uninterrupted workout.
First: You are to be chained to treadmills. Yes, we have treadmills here. For a long time, we just had everyone run in a one big circle until they’d made up for all of the steps they didn’t take in life (times one thousand), but we found that it was too difficult to keep track of and was hell on the carpeting. So, as soon as the technology was available, we bought five billion treadmills. The noise is a little distracting at times, but we’re sure you’ll manage.
Once you are securely fastened to your treadmill, we will turn it to the highest speed and place it on what might seem like a sadistic incline. Again! This is for your own good. I take almost no joy in watching.
You will notice that, attached to the handlebars, you will find an e-reader with the biography of every person-of-action who ever lived, from Alexander the Great to Amelia Airheart to Camillo Torello, inventor of the Western Seed drill. These were people who never experienced the torpor of Sloth. These people were driven to move forward, divinely inspired, to create and conquer. These people felt a deep and passionate love for the world, and worked to better it.
You will read their Biographies. All of them. In chronological order.
You will then write in-depth reports on each individual. These papers must be not less than twenty pages per, Times New Roman, twelve-point font, single spaced. These papers must follow MLA Handbook Standards. Any paper found lacking for any reason shall be rewritten. Spellcheck, people.
You are also expected to learn every love song ever written, and- at appointed times- you are to sing. You are to be note perfect. No discord will be permitted.
You will be given no breaks. You need not eat, you are beyond that need. You need not urinate, nor defecate. You only need to run, and to read, and to write, and-by all things good and holy- you need to sing.
And, finally, you are to meditate. While performing these other duties. Your subject of meditation: what a worthless piece of shit you were while alive. This is mandatory, of course, and perhaps the most important aspect of your penance. Because as you begin to understand yourself, and your sin, as you begin to see what set you apart from your betters, as you sweat and toil, you will come to understand why your love was deficient.
And in understanding, you will find acceptance. And in acceptance, you will finally properly love. And this finely honed LOVE will purge you.
Ask no questions; I do not understand the will of those above me any more than you do. I myself am still mid-struggle. I, like you, shall do as I am told. And I will do it with a passionate fervor, as directed. I am still in the process of understanding my own sin. And like you, I hope one day to purge myself and enter through the front gate of Heaven to Blissful, Ego-free Eternity.
Now, everyone find your station. Are you ready?
This is going to take quite some time.
1. You Suddenly Realize She’s Not A Kid Anymore
As she ponders over baby names and asks your opinion on cute little outfits, it still doesn’t dawn on you that she’s about to enter or has already entered motherhood and what that all means. You know she’s having a baby, but you won’t realize she’s a mom now until that one afternoon where the baby is crawling around the house and everyone stands there, looking proud, taking pictures. Suddenly you’ll see her mothering over a baby and then you’ll remember that this was the person you threw food at at the dinner table and locked in the closet and played little jokes on and who you bonded with when you did something that got you both grounded. Now here she is, a mom herself.
2. You Freak Out About What Your Exact Responsibilities As Uncle/Aunt Should Be
Like…what are you supposed to do exactly? You’ve never been an uncle or an aunt before, and there are no guidebooks on how to be a great aunt or uncle aside from bringing lots of presents all the time. Does it mean being a babysitter? Does it mean helping out whenever you can? When my sister had my nephew five years ago, I sent him a cute little Yale baby onesie and all kinds of other stuff. Hey, gotta get them started early! But you don’t just want to be The Present Giver. You want to be in your nephew or niece’s life, which will be especially difficult if you and your sister live several states away. You want your nephew or niece to know who you are.
3. Your Parents Will Text Photos To Everyone About Cute Stuff The Baby Did Today
My mom texted me a picture of my nephew in his little Batman costume on Halloween and it was a total awe-fest. There’s nothing cuter than an excited parent sending cute photos of her grandson or granddaughter out to all of social media. Yes, people complain about lots of baby photos on Facebook, but I’m talking about when your mom or dad sends group text photos to all your family members from time to time, including relatives whose number you don’t even have. Then everyone responds about how cute the baby is and all is well in the world.
4. You’ll Realize She’s Still The Same Person
I don’t know why we think things change once the baby is born, as if you become some pod of your former self. As you watch your sister mother over her child, in the same breath you’ll realize that she’s actually the same girl. She’s got more responsibility and her life priorities have changed, but much else. She still laughs at the same things and has the same sense of humor, and if you threw food at her right now she’ll probably throw it right back at you, just like old times.
5. Everyone Will Ask When Are YOU Having Kids?
Your mom can’t wait to be a grandma, especially now that you’ve been out of the house a few years. As you make your way into your 20s and get closer to your 30s, parents start wondering when you’re going to put the keg down and start a family. But the pressure gets even stiffer if your sibling beats you to babyhood. Well now everyone is looking at you, asking where your baby is and when you’re going to get on the family train. You’re going to have to come up with a better excuse than “Oh, I’m just trying to focus on my career right now.” Not unless you want to sound like a soulless, baby hater.
Welcome to the Rashard Mendenhall thinkpiece. In this thinkpiece, we’re gonna talk about the recent retirement of NFL running back Rashard Mendenhall. It’ll be pretty serious, and will attempt to rationalize a somewhat forced argument that caters to some sort of brand-oriented agenda.
A few days ago, the 26 year-old Rashard Mendenhall (born in 1987) announced that he was retiring from the National Football League. People were pretty shocked, because retiring at 26 years old is seems like a negative thing to do — especially for someone like Mendenhall, a two-time Super Bowl champion who was “successful,” made some $$, and presumably had a number of seasons ahead of him. If you need a #postgradlife comparison, Mendenhall had a bright future with the company (The NFL), and could’ve been “a solid asset for years to come.” Barring further injury, Mendenhall certainly would’ve been the type of employee who’d eventually gain a modest corner office — the type of guy who’d go to the company-sponsored happy hours and end up talking to the wide-eyed rookies about what it’s really like working at this place, and, how that as long as they don’t fuck up, they’re in for a pretty sweet deal. The type of guy who’d say all that and look happy on the surface, but would clearly be hiding some pain behind those eyes. Because those eyes would be lined with a deep-seated misery, the type that would clue you into some sort of greater dissatisfaction. You’d get the feeling that the 33 year-old Mendenhall, your prototypical not-hugely-successful-but-successful-enough-to-have-no-reason-to-complain company man, was not exactly happy.
So instead of marrying himself to the corporate NFL grind, Mendenhall put in his two weeks notice via a very well constructed blog post. The highlights of which, you could read here:
The truth is, I don’t really think my walking away is that big of deal. For me it’s saying, “Football was pretty cool, but I don’t want to play anymore. I want to travel the world and write!” However as I told the people around me that I wasn’t planning on signing again, there was a surprising amount of shock and bewilderment.
So when they ask me why I want to leave the NFL at the age of 26, I tell them that I’ve greatly enjoyed my time, but I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment. I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality. And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it.
As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me? I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city. I do have a plan going forward, but I will admit that I do not know how things will totally shape out.
Mendenhall, in addition to sounding like a classic 20-something (travel the world and write? You writing a Thought Catalog article, bro?), reminds me a lot of the girl who came up with some sort of app, sold it at the right time, and is now looking into opening a roving food truck. Or the guy worked a bunch of years in finance but then quit to do something he actually wanted to do. The type of people who #grind, get what they want, and then go off do what they want. Basically, overambitious Tom Riddle types minus the supreme evil.
Mendenhall then, very much fits into this boundary-adverse career ideal that feels like a glorified version of The Social Network – an emerging school of thought that doesn’t necessarily look at success as something that’s track oriented, but rather something that’s talent, work-ethic, and personal brand oriented. From reading his post it seems pretty clear that he wants to do him, and use that angle to experience and achieve things elsewhere, whatever that may mean. He’s put himself in a position where he can now pursue things he wants to pursue, all on his terms – the way we’d probably all like to look at careers if we had the means, abilities, drives, and resumes to do so.
So by leaving the NFL, Mendenhall is no different from the guy who spent nights tutoring overprivileged kids in math, and is now looking to open up his own improv comedy venue. Sure it’s a lot more high profile than your friend who just quit his job to move to Austin, but all he’s really doing is undergoing your quintessential, idealized “if I had more than 0 in my savings, I’d get the hell out of here” career change. And he’s doing it for the same reasons anyone else would — he’s not looking for structure, he’s looking to broaden his life experiences, and he’s not looking for compromise. And above all that, he’s certainly not looking to be the 34 year-old guy who’s too comfortable to be allowed to regret anything.
Although I’ll miss him on SportsCenter, I very much respect Rashard Mendenhall. He’s well on his way to being the super-millennial the rest of us thought we were gonna be.