That's some catch, that Catch 22.
The...relevant scene from the novel is when the old Italian man (108 years old) tells the 21-year old Lt. that the secret to a long and happy life is to surrender, not fight.
To not get in uniform, not get in line, not march with the masses, not stand in the ranks, not espouse the public goal.
To live instead like a knife cutting through water, leaving no trace of yourself while simply being yourself. The young Lt. may not see the next sunset, while the old man has lived the one day given to him, day by day, for 108 years.
Most people can't do it. Human beings live in stories, in myths about nationhood, heritage, generational accomplishments, ethnicity, in sports teams if nothing else. Most of us are eager to stand up and be a part of history, to fight for truth, justice, and a sacred cause larger than our life, to make our mark in this world, to make a difference, to be somebody, to do some thing.
When the only thing you can ever possibly have any control over is yourself, inside your own skin.
Ozymandias in the end was just a man. Though he reportedly shook the heavens and the earth, no trace of it remains. What he took to eternity was who he was, not what he did. Not the slightest speck of any mountain he moved, not the smallest coin nor thread of cloth went along with him to wherever he went.
None of those things were taken. None of those things remain.
It's hard to leave off the story, the country, the cause that appeals to you, and to care nothing about all that.
In the eight years of daily heartbreak of the Bush years now past, I went from grieving for my lost America, to a white hot rage to rescue it, to a determination to change it, to a cold examination of its core deceits.
And there has been a divorce. I've no respect or regard remaining for America's story, for its birth or history, for its government, its leaders, its various wars, or for its aims around the world today. It is not my story or my country even though I live here.
Like the majority of Americans, much has been taken from me in these eight years, and as I watch the fledgling Obama Administration service the robber barons assiduously instead of the people I perceive that even more will be taken.
But I also perceive that these taken things are just things. Job, career, savings, property, pride, prospects, patriotism, optimism, health care, community, anger, shame, love of country. These things that I once thought moved heaven and Earth are gone now.
Like so many Americans, I am standing here in my skin, with no particular loyalty to the nation that robs me, that abuses me, that uses me and then sends along a bill for its services. I won't be paying that bill, and they cannot collect it without taking my very skin, which I aim to keep.
Like so many Americans, I am 'paddling to Sweden' as Orr did in the novel -- I am getting up every morning and doing what is sane and effective to escape a mad and maddening situation, to escape with my skin. My bank is a mattress, my income is barter and black market, my taxes are nought. My interest in the blogs, news, and headlines is to dodge what's coming next, not to fight it, espouse it, worry about it, or live in it.
The oligarchs atop our nation do not grasp how very many Americans don't live in America any longer even though we live right here. How very many of us see that the Dream was only ever possible for 10% of us, and that those 10% have got theirs but good, and have no further concern for the rest of us, or for other nations, or for the planet.
They've virtually left the country. So have we. Catch 22 -- no one lives in America any longer. Some live above it, while most live below it. The Dream is increasingly unoccupied.
The 10% of wealthy Villagers atop America will happily leave the rest of us shivering in our skins, if it keeps them living in their story. In their country. The country they won, that they stole fair and square so they can live happily ever after.
Or until we come for them.
[Update] And an important answer:
May I ask that you keep hold of one thing other than your own skin?
Solidarity with the other 90% (99% is the number I'd use in fact; that semi-rich 9% think they are on the inside of the game, but will be easily pitched overboard without a life vest by the true elite once the ship really starts going down [then .9% of the last one percent will go, and so on]) of us that are in the same situation as you.
Solidarity is what makes us strong. It is what allows us to keep our skin, and that of our loved ones, safe in the long term, as well as providing hope that we may be able to claim a dignified life someday.
If fact, solidarity is the only mechanism we have that will allow us to "come for them."