What is the greater fear to have, looking back on a lifetime of missed opportunities and unrealized potential, or being faced with choices with uncertain outcomes requiring a “leap of faith?”  Both can be nerve-racking in their own right, but I think the obvious distinction to make here involves which tense we’re talking about.

Suppose for a second that you are seventy years old and reflecting on a long life of decisions, choices, attitudes, etc.  How would you want that to go?  Certainly I would think of how those missed opportunities and failed attempts would be biting and wrought with anxiety: “Oh I should have quit my job and pursued my dreams when I had the chance,” “why didn’t I make time for a family,” and “If only I could have made my marriage work” are just a few of those sorts of thoughts that might come to mind.  Ultimately it is a fear of the past, a fear of not living up to our own standards that drives this sort of thought, and I cannot think of much worse than being at the end of ones own life and having only regrets.

Now imagine you are a vibrant thirty year old working at a decent job with security and the possibility for some sort of growth.  It’s not your passion to be sure, but it’s alright, gets you by, pays the bills, but lacks in any sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.  An opportunity exists to leave the comfort of your job and pursue something you’re passionate about (whatever that may be), but it’s by no means certain that you will succeed.  What do you do?  Sure, taking the leap and following your dreams sounds wonderfully adventurous and has a sort of storybook quality, but this is the real world and you have bills to pay and (possibly) people to support.  This is the fear of failure, the fear of going for broke…and becoming broke, it is a fear of the future and not knowing what it holds, and (perhaps most importantly) it is the fear of letting yourself and those around you down.

Here is where we find ourselves, sitting on this point we call present while being stuck between these past and future oriented fears.  Whatever are we to do?  The title of this blog lends itself to a sort of pessimistic denial of action/inaction that could leave a person bitter and defeated by the end of their journey.  On the other hand, it would seem almost silly if someone were wholly optimistic over the notions of possible failure and regret.  Perhaps the problem is that we are faced with a false dichotomy between leaping into the unknown and the roads more safely traveled; the actual solution to the problem is to live only for the present.  Unfortunately, to only live for the present would negate knowledge gleaned from prior mistakes and successes which could help navigate us better through the opaque waters of the future.  Perhaps the real culprit here is fear.  Instead of regretting past mistakes we should embrace them as learning tools, and instead of fearing the unknown of the future we should embrace the exhilarating freedom we feel as we venture down our own paths to greatness.  Living our lives without fear, now that is a truly anti-American  concept.

Much time has past since I have even felt the urge to write anything down in this little electronic scrapbook of mine…far too much time.  Getting caught up in the everyday humdrum that is the “A shift” can not only be physically draining (depending on what lucky “career” one has settled for) but more importantly it is mentally and emotionally exhaustive.  If there were ever a reason to wonder why we as a society love to get blasted drunk on our days off, all one need do is spend an ample amount of their daily existence settling on some menial way to pay their rent.  Of course I do not speak for everyone here, some folks are quite content mowing lawns or working in a warehouse, I am just not one of them.  I feel like I’m treading mediocre waters in which nothing has been ventured and nothing gained, and it’s feels like cold, stagnate death.

I know I am destined for something more rewarding than the monotonous life of punching a clock.  I feel it, way deep down, a hunger long since unsatiated for something greater and grander in design.  Not that I have any necessary designs on being some famous name strung up high in the marquee for all to gawk at, just simply something I can feel intellectually satisfied with.  I’ve been unofficially out of university for close to three years now, and the best possible face I can put on my life since is that I’ve only been capable of procrastination.  Now the writer, thinker, philosopher, and intellectual in me hungers for more and there can be no more pulling back on the reigns of progress.  NO MORE PROCRASTINATING!

“If you’re not afraid of your goals, then they aren’t big enough.”

The razor sharp lines separating responsibility and reason from other more base instincts slowly dull and chip under the weight of thick glass chalices overflowing with delicious, frothy poison.  Clock hands twist and turn as time breaks loose from its cosmic principles, becoming paradoxically malleable.  “How is it already one, it was just ten-thirty?  Christ, I’ve been standing in this line thirty minutes!  What, it’s only been five?!?”  Yep, there’s no two ways about it, I’m drunk.

Meandering through a gelatinous sea of flesh, I squint one crooked eye trying to focus in on this evening’s prize. Unfortunately big, tall, fat, and small all stay in flux as space itself seems to follow time’s leap off rational cliffs into the chaotic depths. Perhaps length, depth, and breadth have grown wary of their conformist ways and wish to live out their own rebellious teen drama; or maybe space simply feels as lubricated as I and cannot muster a single fuck to give. As I press forward, I am both of these feelings personified.

At some point the bubbling brew inside my head reaches critical mass forcing power outages in the frontal cortex. Speech slurs, forethought rescinds to the shadows, and consequences are thrown out with the bath water. In other words, the “rational animal” withdrawals from the scene and his place a wild beast resides who’s only purpose consists in satisfying every base desire. As is the case with every other unthinking creature in the wild this one covets and seeks out what it desires with vigor, preying on that which is weakest. But this is a different sort of weakness than say a lion or bear looks for; it is a weakness in character which this predator seeks. He seeks someone easily seduced, someone willing to throw their pride out the window just to feel loved if only for a moment. In short, he seeks that which I will hate in the morning.

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Lately I’ve become painfully aware of just how out of place I feel even in the most comfortable and worn in of dive bars and last night amongst an ex-girlfriend who staunchly wants to remain my best friend and a bar full of incarnations of the friends and bands of my yesteryear, all I could think over and over again was “what the fuck am I doing here?” At first I thought it was her getting on my nerves, after all we both do things that annoy each other.  But she was being nothing but pleasant and sweet.  Then I noticed some of the new young twenty-somethings she was talking to and I thought Eureka! 

But what exactly was/is it about these kinda adults that bothers me so? I need to parse out the underlying thought behind the emotion on pain of coming off shallow and pretentious.   Surely it’s not the fact that my ex has new friends, what’s that matter me? And it’s not these kids in and of themselves I dislike, on the contrary I find them pleasant enough (especially the one with the vampire makeup). The only complaint I could make with most of this younger generation I find myself surrounded with when is that they seem completely uninformed in a great many things, but is this really all their fault?

Well I’m sure if one wanted they could make some sort of argument about the state of the education system and kids lack of motivation, but for my purpose the answer is an emphatic No!  It only seems right and natural that a gap in knowledge (and hence topics of conversation) should exist between myself and those a decade my junior. And eureka! I’ve placed my finger on the problem.

This is no mere gap for me but an ever expanding chasm. I strain my blurry eyesight to its very limits to see what lies on the other side, and alas I see a form. But as this form takes shape and comes to light l sense an odd familiarity as if it were an old friend or even someone closer. Then as everything finally comes into focus I realize it is me who I’m looking at, only not myself as I stand today, but myself ten years past.

My annoyance isn’t with anybody else, it’s with myself.  I feel like that last guy to leave the long since over party. In fact a new, younger party has sprung up in the same spot and seeing the faces of old friends in these new ones leaves me cold.  But worse than that I’ve lost track of both time and purpose.  The passionate fires that burn deep within have been doused in a frothy suds filled mess for far too long.  I must leave the party and get to work crafting my legacy. I may not be a kid anymore, but I’m far from old and there’s much to do before it is my turn to exit the world stage.

And unfortunately one where you are Bucky

The idea of an infinite set of something is, to my mind, one of those odd paradoxes which can be both easily understood and mind crushingly difficult simultaneously.  Generally speaking, anyone who has had some level of high school math has, at least, been introduced to the idea of infinity.  After all, if I start counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… I can do this forever without end.  But there is so much more complexity to infinity and infinite sets that can lead even the most stellar of mathematicians to scratching their heads while quietly muttering “what the fuck!?!”  Allow me to elaborate…

Let us suppose for a moment that the notion of the multiverse is true.  According to this theory, there is not only the single universe in which we occupy a seemingly infinitesimal space, but also an infinite amount of other universes, each of which containing their own sets of variables.  So far so good right?  Well it gets a bit more complex than infinite universes, for if there are an infinite number of universes, then certainly in some of those universes there will contain life forms of some sort, and over an infinite stretch of numbers the likelihood will become certain that there will be a universe containing an exact replica of you (and me, and everything else).  But there won’t just be another you in some random universe 5,000,000X90,000 universes away, but there will literally be an infinite set of you that can be found within the infinite set of universes.  Sound strange?  Well it gets stranger, for not only will there be an infinite set of you within the infinite set of universes, but there will also be an infinite set of variations of you which will themselves have infinite sets.  Maybe in one universe you are bald, well then in an infinite number of universes there will be an infinite number of hairless you walking around.  And keep in mind that we are only talking about you here; think about how many different sorts of things exist on Earth and imagine all of those things existing infinitely, with an infinite set of variations which also exist infinitely, AND having an infinite amount of ways they can coexist alongside each other, which will also each one have an infinite set.  And that’s only to speak about what’s going on with an infinitesimal blue orb when dealing with the universe on a cosmic scale.  Try wrapping your head around how many infinite sets would exist throughout the whole universe, which would also exist infinitely, alongside their infinite variations.  It’s all enough to give me an infinite headache requiring infinite beers guzzled down infinite throats to infinitely sooth.

“I didn’t know this place ordered any Super Bowl tickets…heh?  Hahahaha!” 

And so goes yet another one of the thousands of human exchanges I’ve had to endure where my antagonist assumes facts not in evidence.  In this particular case a rather Costanzaish looking fellow, fully equipped with a reverse Geordi LaForge Visor haircut, abnormally apish forehead, and small squinty eyes assumed one or more of the following: (A) That I watch American Football (or as I like to call it, Handegg), (B) That I shared his opinion of the quality of game that was the Super Bowl this year, or (C) That I wished to converse with an odd looking man standing sheepishly in the waiting room of an OBGYN while I was making a delivery.

Now I know there are some people who would say I am being too judgmental of this man or that he was just trying to be nice and I should be alright with that, but truth be told it is the contraposition which I believe holds true.  Allow me to illustrate.
Let’s take the first statement that I am being too judgmental of this poor old bloke.  The line of argumentation, I suppose, would go something like the following:  Look at this guy, he’s standing in the waiting room of an OBGYN (presumably waiting for a woman he knows) and is probably feeling very uncomfortable (hence him not sitting or reading a magazine or whatever).  He sees you come in with your boxes of wares to make livery, and sensing a (at least temporary) way out of his uncomfortable situation, he seeks to perform some male bonding utilizing a subject he (and most likely his friends) hold very dear.  Stop being such a judgmental prick and just be nice to the guy.
Well argued indeed my charming interlocutor (minus your scathing ad hominem), but now please allow me to retort.  I would firstly concur that my remarks as to the man’s stature at the beginning of this piece were indeed judgmental, but those were words typed in the heat of passion.  Besides that, it is HE not I who judges.  I entered these premises strictly for business purposes and engaged in no conversation except of business matters with the staff.  However, by seeking me out with his football related folly, this man made judgments about my tastes, my sense of humor, and even my demeanor, and he did all this by projecting his own self onto me.  In assuming I would giggle at his little quip as he was, he was subconsciously projecting outward the very things he held dear onto me, a stranger, and basically hoped for the best.  For if we had known each other as friends or even acquaintances then this would have been impossible because he would have known my distaste for all things Handegg.  By not knowing me and engaging me on this subject, he was in essence using me as a vessel for an outward manifestation of the mental masturbation that was him coming up with that terrible joke.  And this makes me feel terribly unclean and violated.

Now if you were to come back at me by claiming that maybe this man was just trying to be friendly and I should lighten up on him, then to you I say this:  I was cordial with him as I am not a rude person.  But that being said, again he is assuming I want to be friendly in that situation which, again, is a manifestation of his own desires.  I was reaching the end of an eleven hour day, exhausted, and in no mood for small talk.  Under different circumstances I would love to make small talk over certain matters, and perhaps we could have even found common ground.  And if you say that he could not know my particular state at that moment, I would reply with an emphatic EXACTLY!  He doesn’t know, so why is he trying to be witty and engaging?  What’s wrong with a simple “Hi, how’re you doing today?” which I always welcome from strangers as it’s a simple, innocuous, safe way to engage those you do not know.
In short, I think it is a terrible habit I see far too often when we start going on about the things we find important without prompting and without regard for how the other person will receive it.  That’s not to say that there’s not a time and place to talk to people about things outside their particular prevue, all I’m saying is that it’s inappropriate to do so with strangers who are just trying to do their job.

F.Y.I. The stranger’s “joke” was his way of responding to a case of toilet paper I was bringing in.  Ha…ha

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I was listening to a podcast earlier on the First World War and it got me thinking about societal changes and norms throughout the ages.  Specifically, I was thinking about those people who had the misfortune of having lived through both of the world wars, and what effects a lifetime of war would have on the psyche, which would in turn effect societal structuring.  Imagine for a moment a young man, born around 1895, growing up within the relative political stability that existed between the Franco-Prussian and first world wars, and then being thrust into four years of living hell having to watch a good majority of his friends and acquaintances get mowed down by machine guns, blown to bits by artillery, or gassed to death.  Just enduring that sort of psychic trauma would be enough to drive someone insane.  So this very fortunate person doesn’t join their 16 million contemporaries in death, and tries to move past it presumably by starting a family, getting a career going, etc.  Now it’s the mid 1930’s and this person again has to watch the political deterioration between countries advance until a second world war break out which will again decimate Europe and again claim the lives of millions upon millions of people.

Regardless of rather this person was British, German, American, French, etc, having to live through two major wars twenty years apart which results in the death of millions of their countrymen has got to skew how you think about all sorts of issues.  Existentially speaking life has to be this thing that is overwhelming full of despair and heartbreak, with only the smatterings of happiness to be found here or there.  Politically there is probably some serious resentment and even pure hatred pointed at those same enemies faced throughout a lifetime.  Even being born forty years after WW2 I grew up learning about the monstrous evils of Nazi Germany and the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.  That is something entrenched in our society and it’s a result of all those people who either lived through both wars, or grew up during the second while hearing all about the first.  How much worse would it have been to be born German though and had to hear about what your own people did?  I wonder if there is a sort of guilt still lying beneath the German social strata.

I think that one of the more negative notions to come out of living through this sort of traumatic period is rampant nationalism.  People have felt a special loyalty to the state or nation they belong to probably since there have been states and nations, but that feeling tends to intensify during periods of war, and in this particular example it probably knows almost no limit.  And those nationalistic tendencies don’t just go away after the fighting is done.  The cold war is a testament to the nationalistic tendencies of peoples who have grown distrustful and suspicious of other nations.  Of course that’s not to say all Nationalism is bad, and I would say a certain amount is probably healthy for positive growth, but as with most things, if pushed to the extreme it can become a negative.

Of course, one could not help but see the irony in bearing witness to the rampant nationalism Germany displayed in this entire time period, and being turned nationalist because of it.  I suppose it would be different for the Germans as their national identity was razed to the ground and raised out of that rubble completely anew.  And if you’re reading this and you are American, Nationalism is really just another way of saying patriotism.  This immediately makes me think of the nationalist hard-on we displayed after 9/11, and how those feelings started to ebb only a decade out.  Now there are many reasons why societal norms shift back and forth, and to be fair I have been overly simplistic thus far because I really wanted to only focus on this, but that said there is one reason why people start becoming less nationalistic and start doing things like questioning their governments, form alliances with foreigners, etc, and that is because they are not being exposed to outside threats on their lives.  Why did people in the 60’s protest Vietnam and preach peace?  Because Vietnam is a third rate country that doesn’t represent any sort of threat to the American citizens not forced to go over there.  Why has nationalism waned in the wake of the towers coming down?  Because nobody really thinks something like that can happen again with all the precautions set in place by the government.  And here I find it very ironic that all those people who scream and shout about the government abusing its power with agencies like the TSA and NSA are only able to do that because those agencies exist to protect them.  That’s not to say there aren’t abuses going on within these agencies or the government in general, and again there are a whole plethora of things going on here, I’m just trying to follow this stream of consciousness to some sort of good ending.  Here looks about right.

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