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Everyone should try to emulate The Dude, the main character from the Coen Brothers’ cult classic The Big Lebowski. He’s a loyal friend. He’s adventurous. He puts others above himself. He’s virtuous.
And he is sustained by community.
Some might say, “But isn’t The Dude unemployed?” Well, yes. But viewers of the film will notice that Jeffrey Lebowski, the rich man who shares The Dude’s name, is successful, famous, powerful — and alone. Slacker Lebowski, who admits that he keeps busy with Krameresque odd jobs, is living a more human life than his counterpart.
And that’s why studying The Dude can help us combat the problems of our modern world.
We’re living in a paradox. We’re connected — perhaps more so than ever before — but we also, by choice or not, spend much of our time alone. The family continues to disintegrate. We maintain friendships through Facebook and the phone, but we recoil when we meet someone new. We prefer to stay attached to our devices, because they can help us avoid the awkwardness of genuine interaction.
And this is not a new problem. Many of us are trapped by romantic notions of individualism, forgetting that human beings are defined by their friendships and associations. I should know. Since graduation, I’ve worked as a freelance writer. And I’ve spent much of my time plopped on my couch, typing away on the laptop. Sometimes, during the day, my only interaction with others can come from social media.
It’s something I must stop.
I need to get out during the day — whether that means I go get coffee and introduce myself to someone new, head into the city and catch a show, or go to the mall. Anything will help. After all, stories come from lived experience. Locking yourself away and expecting to pen the next brilliant novel or essay or poem is crazy — which is why so many of the Romantic-era literati literally went insane.
But it’s not just me. Too many of us prefer to spend the evening locked inside, racking up the points on Candy Crush or clicking away on Tumblr or zoning out on Netflix. But why not head out with friends to a bar and drink until you’re giddy and then step outside and watch the stars shine as you stumble toward a cab? Why not get a group together and go hiking in the early morning so you can hear the birds sing and see the sun spill a kaleidoscope of colors across the sky as it makes its way higher, higher?
Why not go bowling?
The Dude abides.