Beat the System Day

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a quirky guy. I’ll prove it to you: I have created my own holiday. “Beat the System Day” was first celebrated on November 17th, 2004. I was a sophomore in high school, and in my world history class we were assigned a group project. In groups of three we had to create an “epic play representing an ancient civilization”. (my teachers’ exact words) We had a month’s worth of in-class time to work on our plays and then on the 17th we would perform them in class. Naturally with my luck the other two guys in my group were Cannabis Enthusiasts (read: pot heads). In short I will say we spent exactly 0% of our allotted class time working on the project and about 100% of it goofing off.

So, eventually presentation day rolled around and we had nothing. Maybe it was because my partners were already on 3 different types of academic probation, or maybe it was because we didn’t want to fail, but for some reason my group threw a quick rap together that was loosely based on the trials and tribulations of the Roman Empire. Additionally, in a final act of chutzpah our group volunteered to go first. Paul rapped, I supplied a beat, and Tom stood next to us, doing absolutely nothing. After we finished, the class didn’t do anything, no applause, no laughing, nothing. Our teacher stood up and preceded to explain to the class why our group was to receive an A+ and why our performance should be a benchmark for all class efforts for the rest of the year. (He mumbled something about the project’s “brilliant marriage of historical knowledge and spontaneous improvisation”) In that moment, Beat the System Day was born.

Obviously I can’t replicate these results every year, but I can give myself this one day. On Beat the System Day I do what I want because I know things will work out. It’s very hard to explain the beauty of BtS Day but maybe an example will suffice –

If I were to go to my favorite used music store on BtS Day I can predict a few things: I wouldn’t worry about spending the money on a new CD (or two or three or four), and from those purchases I would probably discover an artist or album that blows my mind. I wouldn’t miss the money and would experience excellent, jubilant results.

Does that make any sense? BtS Day is a day where I don’t live under the restrictions that I would normally place on myself and nothing negative occurs from it. Maybe I will decide to play Call of Duty all day, eat whatever I want, or treat myself to a trip to Borders. Its not really any specific act of defiance that matters; it’s a state of mind.

There is nothing like waking up on Beat the System Day and knowing that today I can do as I please and not worry about it. This doesn’t necessarily imply that I call in sick to work, or skip class, or skimp on whatever responsibilities I may have — it’s just my own personal vacation that takes place emotionally no matter where I may be or what I might be doing.

I don’t really try to evangelize Beat the System Day, but if you’re down or your life feels bland, or maybe if you’re plain bored, BtS Day might be just what the doctor ordered.