The First Half-Century
Posted by Dirck on 30 November, 2015
Good heavens, is it really that long? At some point this afternoon, I’m embarking on my second half-hundred years (and I don’t, in the face of genetics and increasing medical comprehension, expect it to be the last, but ill-driven dump trucks can confound). I don’t think I’ve gained more than what should be the common amount of wisdom over those years, but since such markers call out for pontification, I’m going to make a few observations.
- I’m tired of people saying “Do what will make you happy.” This is not because I don’t, indeed I had such a round of pen repairing yesterday that I discovered ink between a couple of toes, but because it’s not the sort of advice one can follow to the exclusion of all other activities without having the good luck to discover that happiness-engendering something early enough to arrange one’s career path just so, and finding the career path that will allow it at all. It is also a little too bound up with this miserable YOLO nonsense, which is little more than an excuse for selfish narcissism.
- As a follow-up; remember what makes you happy. Just because you can’t get at it as much as you could wish, don’t toss it away entirely. I’ll admit that I have left book-binding aside for my son’s entire life, because it calls for vast uninterrupted sessions (unlike pen repair or writing), but I still look at the equipment and consider its use, when one day time allows. I’m a little ambivalent on the whole “live like it’s your last day” thing because the underpinning of may be profoundly true (dump-truck!) but it also makes every day that your didn’t do everything you wanted to a bit of a failure. I allow myself the luxury of future gratification. Note that the vast increase of boredom available on this blog is a result of my eventually taking up the pen of fiction after leaving it aside for… at least a decade.
- Don’t give into the notion of acting your age… entirely. I think that acting like you’re 12 in all things is idiotic, because I freely admit that at that age I had a lot of stupid in me. I still do, but the layers of experience help to filter it into something less toxic when they don’t contain it entirely. However, I think that gleeful exuberance is a great thing to hold onto. I may be this old and (purportedly) wise, but I still giggle now and then. I even look forward to The Force Awakens because it might fix the damage Episodes I through III inflicted on the most perfect entertainment that 12-year-old idiot ever knew, and which I still hold as a standard.
- Also as a follow-up; don’t lament the fact that you’re getting older. While every passing month makes the possibility of rewarding career in professional sports just that much less likely, if you’re using you’re time properly, you are building up that filter/containment vessel of experience and thus become more able to deal with life. Consider how easily babies cry at minor things; this is because whatever it is, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever encountered, and I don’t know it won’t kill me! You get over that, right? Likewise the failure of the first romantic entanglement, which seemed pretty fatal at the time but which in retrospect was merely the conclusion of a pretty brief chapter in a long and complicated story. I’m pretty happy that I’ve got a depth of armour against such insults of life, and I rather pity people who haven’t got the same. Some of them are the same age as me, too.
- This is not to say I encourage the burning out of emotional capacities. I’m not one to fly into a passion, but I will shed the odd emotional tear, whether from woe or joy. Not to do so is to become inhuman.
- Fight the power. But only after careful study, because a lot of people who think they’re doing just that are actually propping it up.
- Eat your vegetables. Seriously. A functional bowel is a joy forever.
That should do. I’ll see you all here when I’m 100, fifty-one years hence, to see if anything else has occurred to me in the interim.