Nostalgia: It Ain’t What It Used To Be

Been spending most of my time alone the last several days.  And I’m actually quite happy with this arrangement.  And why not?  Most of my friends are going through the mid life crisis deals as my friends are in the mid thirties to early forties range.  I have a college friend who was diagnosed with cancer several months ago who’s only a year or two older than I am.  Most of my friends are struggling with debts and dead end careers, so they are constantly on edge about money.  I’ve had friends suffer through divorces.  I have a cousin whose son was diagnosed on the autism scale last year.  My best friend from my teenage years lost her mother to cancer two years ago.  Even in myself I don’t have as much get up and go as I did even three years ago.  But I am in my late 30s.  I’ll be 40 next summer yet I don’t dread it.  I don’t dread aging as much as most of my friends.  Most people think I’m weird  or lying when I say I actually look forward to being a wise elder.  I’m not lying or weird.  I’m just ahead of the curve and no longer fearing the inevitable.

I admit I don’t have much nostalgia.  I don’t long for the “good ol’ days” because, well, the good old days kinda sucked in many ways.  When exactly were the good old days?  Was it back in the 1990s when President Clinton was screwing his interns, computers occupied entire desks instead of fitting in shirt pockets, and the music of Tupac and Marilyn Manson were going to be the death of Western Civilization?  Was it back in the 1950s when using the n word was okay but Lucille Ball couldn’t say pregnant on network television and the threat of nuclear war was real?  “Better dead than red” people said back in those days.  And people were worried about the corrupting influence of rock and roll music.  Or was it in the Old West when boom towns like Dodge City and Tombstone were far more violent and lawless than any modern slum, women couldn’t vote, and bounty hunters got paid for Native American scalps?  Or was it in the Stone Age when everyone ate fresh and natural food, drank clean water, breathed unpolluted air, had no laws, no villages, half of children died before adulthood, and writing didn’t exist.  Even the 2010s will be considered the good old days in twenty years by nostalgic fools.  Nostalgia is a desert mirage.  It is imagined.  It isn’t real.  I haven’t fallen victim to nostalgia even though I’m on the door step of 40.  Hopefully I never fall victim to nostalgia.

I definitely never want to be one of these bitter and angry old men who complain about the kids.  Let’s get some thing real clear: every generation of “lousy kids” was supposed to be the death of civilization.  And it never happened.  If anything, most generations built upon what previous generations did and left science and humanitarian efforts further along than when they started.  I have zero patience for people who complain about young people.  Elders were complaining about how stupid and incompetent my classmates and myself were even when were in grade school in the 1980s.  I have never forgotten how hurtful and unfair that was.  I never will.  And for that reason I will never pull that kind of crap on people younger than me.  And it burns me to see people my age complaining about the kids coming up now.  The kids are not more unruly or weaker now than in the past.  The only thing kids have ever been guilty of is making old codgers realize that they will someday become irrelevant, they will someday die, and they will someday be forgotten.  Kids make old people uncomfortable because kids make elders confront their own hypocrisy, stupidity, and that they were too scared or lazy to try to chase their dreams.

I’m now seeing many of my cohorts becoming bitter and resentful about the bad decisions they made in their teens and twenties.  You should have left that dead end job and started your own business or moved to a different city.  Yeah, you should have majored in STEM or went to trade school instead of majoring in humanities or general business.  Maybe  you should have paid off your credit cards before they become unmanageable.  You shouldn’t have spent your teens and twenties partying, drugging, and having sex like there would be no price to pay.  You shouldn’t have put up with abusive boyfriends or manipulative girlfriends.  You should have called your mom more often.  Yeah, you shouldn’t have cut ties with your siblings.  You should have road tripped and traveled to foreign countries while you still had good health.  You should have gone to seen your favorite musician the night they performed in your hometown.  You shouldn’t have ignored that geeky girl or boy in your high school history class in favor of the school bully or queen bee.  I could go on.  But there are no do overs.  Learn and move on.  Quit romanticizing a past that never existed.  Learn from your bad decisions and be glad for the good decisions you did make.

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Why I Isolate and Don’t Socialize

Even though winter is all but over and the weather is warming up, I’m still spending most of my time alone and isolated.  Just been more irritable and short tempered lately.  Even hearing my neighbors walk down the hallway can irritate me anymore.  And since my neighbors are prone to argue among themselves and make lots of noise during the day, I have intentionally been sleeping during the days and staying up until sunrise for most of the last two weeks.  Why shouldn’t I?  It’s not like I have much of social life anyway.  At least I haven’t had much of a social life for the last few years once even social media stopped being fun.  I mean, do normal people enjoy being angry and argumentative all the time?  It seems to be that way to me.  It didn’t use to be this bad.  In fact, most people used to be pretty cool about petty disagreements.

I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to my nation and my friends over the next few years.  I used to believe that if we made it though these tough times, we’d have a real cool future.  But every time I try to be encouraging or bring up something cool science has done recently, I’m met with either stone cold indifference or fear.  My countrymen didn’t used to fear change nearly as much as we do now.  Hell, we used to force change sometimes out of boredom.  When I look at my elders, leaders, and even people my own age in my hometown and my country in general, I find it hard to believe that these peoples’ parents and grandparents landed on the moon, built personal computers, won major world wars, or even had the courage to immigrate to a new land where they knew no one and had only their dreams and work ethic to keep them going in the dark times.  Whatever pioneer spirit and love of innovation my people once had is dead.  And it’s quite sad.  But no one cares anymore, at least not enough to embrace change.  I know some really cool things are coming within the next ten to twenty years for the people of this world, at least those who are willing to push through their fears of change and adapt accordingly.

But I look around me in my hometown and my family and friends, and I don’t see any adapting.  I see nothing but fear and hate.  In some ways I’m glad I’m not well adjusted to my current reality.  The only people who seem to be are those who are nostalgic for a past that never really existed in the first place.  I no longer see the courage and original thinking that made my nation and it’s people the envy of the world.  And I won’t let us slip away without putting up a fight.