Starting on Thursday, I’m going on an out of state road trip for my best friend from college Matt’s wedding. I’m happy for him as he’s in his late 30s and one of these guys I figured would be fine about not marrying. He didn’t date at all in college for the three years we were in school together. I was the one who was trying to get dates. We pretty much spent our time in college playing strategy games, having all night marathons of discussing history, politics, philosophy, sports statistics, economics, spending our Saturday afternoons watching college football games from practically noon to midnight, and going to the all night diner near Interstate 80 for the 99 cent bottomless cup of coffee and greasy chicken fried steaks. These were the kind of steaks you could hear your arteries clogging after a few bites. Matt also got me started on my coffee addiction. We weren’t drinking Starbucks or anything trendy. He started me on his ‘cowboy coffee’ that if it were any stronger we’d be spitting out the grinds between swallows. His was the kind of coffee that after a couple cups, you wouldn’t need to sleep for a couple days. Since neither of us were much for drinking, we didn’t have times good enough that we can’t remember anything.
He’s now in his late 30s and I just turned 35. It actually isn’t bad being older. As I’ve gotten older I realize I don’t have to put up with other people’s garbage if they are disrespectful and their disrespect isn’t a reflection on me. Surprisingly I do not find myself complaining about the “lazy kids” at all. I often complained about the ignorance and foolish actions of my peers while in high school and college, wondering when my peers would actually grow up and “act like adults.” But as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen that maturity and age do not always accompany each other. I’ve seen teenagers who are wise enough they could be in their thirties and I’ve seen people in their seventies gossip and argue like they were still in grade school.
After awhile I came to see we humans really do concern ourselves over trivial nonsense that doesn’t matter at all. Case in point is the old men who complain about how disrespectful and lazy kids are in 2015 while forgetting that when they were kids in 1955 the old men in 1955 had the same complaints about them. And I also heard about good the ‘old days’ were and how the world is now heading to hell in a hand basket. But the old days were never trouble free any more than modern times. Mayberry may have been peaceful looking on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, but they never aired the scene with Opie doing ‘Duck and Cover’ drills in school. And in real life Floyd the Barber may have had a ‘whites only’ sign in his barber shop, especially in the South. Or go back to the late 1800s with the ‘Irish Catholics Need Not Apply’ signs in businesses. I could go on but you get the picture.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve seen patterns from history play out more than once just in my lifetime. People complained about kids playing the old Nintendo systems while ignoring how we spent time outdoors too in the 1980s. Today, people complain about kids playing Xbox while ignoring how they spend time outdoors too. The Cold War was keeping people busy with fear as movies like Red Dawn (the Patrick Swayze version) and The Day After were big in the 1980s. Now ISIS and other terrorist groups are keeping people busy with fear as movies like American Sniper are big in the 2010s. Gotta keep the pot stirred up I suppose. LGBT freedoms is a social issue now but who knows what it could be 30 to 40 years from now, freedoms and civil rights for AI machines or genetically modified humans? Could it be in the far future when we colonize the Moon and Mars, could those two places argue for independence from Earth? I can picture a futuristic version of a ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ flag being flown in a Martian dust storm. Humanity has been heading to hell in a hand basket long before we had idea of hell or hand baskets. Yet we still haven’t gotten there. And some will continue to nostalgically believe things were better in bygone eras. Nope, things are in flux enough that the only real constant in our lives is change. To quote the great philosopher Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise.”