My birthday is this Sunday. I will be forty years old. I guess the thing I’ve noticed about getting older is that I do have more aches and pains, especially in the mornings. I have to be more careful about what I eat too. I’ve noticed that too much caffeine makes me irritable and short tempered. Too much carb rich food like bread and pastas will make me lethargic and sleepy. Too much milk will unsettle my guts. It’s also easier for me to fall asleep. I do wake up at least once a night to visit the bathroom. I don’t desire sugar as often. I have little to no interest in sex, certainly not enough to start dating again. I have come to be more accepting of my weaknesses and drawbacks. I’ve learned to compensate and work around those weaknesses and drawbacks. Instead of looking for what’s going wrong in the world, I spend much of my time trying to figure out what’s going right. Even though I’m middle aged, I have more empathy for kids and young adults. I didn’t have much empathy for kids and young adults when I was a kid and a young adult. I’ve come to accept that everyone has their own struggles and problems, so it’s best to go easier on people overall. I’ve developed more of an appreciation for customer service workers like waitresses, cashiers, delivery drivers, shelf stockers, gas station clerks, etc. I have found that a good cup of coffee and a home cooked meal will give me more joy than going to clubs and chasing women ever did. And I learned that we as humans are far more adaptable and able to change than we realize, especially in the long term.
Had a bad breakdown a few days ago. I am quite sure, after twenty years with a mental illness, there is a seasonal aspect to my illness. I regret having breakdowns and I especially regret taking my breakdowns out on people I love. I had felt it coming on for awhile and then it finally broke a few days ago. I hope this is the last one for a long time. I hate the fact that I can’t just sob and cry my way out of a breakdown rather than lash out and be angry. I don’t know how much of that is just my personal illness, or always being told a man showing emotions is a sign of weakness, etc. But it’s part of the illness and part of the price of admission into adulthood.
In spite of the illness, and the contradictions and nonsense I am fed on a daily basis by society and popular culture, I do my best to not let this crush my spirit or kill my love for my fellow humans. I know I am often harsh and short tempered with my fellow humans, and my countrymen in particular. But, contrary to popular belief, I do not hate humans or my countrymen. It’s the polar opposite actually. I love humanity and I love my country and my countrymen. I see the cool things we have accomplished in the past and are accomplishing on a daily basis. I see the potential for greatness every day. And yes, it does bother me when I see people not living up to that potential greatness. I am tough on people, not because I hate them, but because I believe everyone can excel at least one thing and I can’t stand to see a person waste their potential and time. I am often tough on my family members because I know they are capable of excellence and have often shown it, especially in times of crisis. I’m sorry but I don’t have much respect for mediocre work and apathy.
A significant portion of the time when I’m reading science journals online or articles on sites like Bloomberg, CNN, Wall Street Journal, etc. I have to remind myself that this isn’t the science fiction it was when I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. I saw the movie Fight Club the other night, and even though the movie was popular when I was in college, I was amazed how people still used land based phone lines, phone booths, primitive looking desktop computers, and even how many people smoked in a movie that came out in the late 1990s. I personally haven’t had a land phone line since 2007 or 2008 I think. I haven’t had a desktop computer in 10 years. And even this year, I was able to email my bank statements and tax information and social security information to my landlady to renew my lease. All I had to do in person was sign a few documents and pass an annual room inspection. And since I now have a cleaning lady who drops in once a week, spruces the place up, and allows me to chat with her while she works, the whole process took about a half hour of my time.
I sometimes overlook the progress my fellow humans, myself, and civilization in general has made when I’m bogged down in the day to day struggle. But when I take a step back and look at it over the course of a few years, it’s quite amazing and gives me hope. I get even more hope and feel in awe when I look back at over what has happened in the life time of our current crop of world leaders and elders in my life. I know I am often too harsh on my elders. I know I need to cut them more slack when I look back and think about all the changes they saw since their childhoods in the 1950s and 1960s. My father can remember his family being one of the first in his hometown to own a black and white television. And his uncles used to come out to my grandfather’s farm just to watch the test patterns in the evenings. Both my parents were typing their high school and even college term papers on electric typewriters. My mother keeps and old style manual typewriter as a decoration in her house and my eight year old nephew is aghast that people used to write on those things.
I also have to remember that, for some of the elders, old Jim Crow laws and criminalization of things like homosexuality, inter racial marriages, and sex outside of marriage were the law of the land in many places until as recently as the 1970s. Sure, it feels like some people are backsliding at times. But the forces at work against such backsliding are far more overwhelming than they would have been even forty years ago.
I can’t even begin to imagine what I will see if I make it to age seventy, if I’m privileged enough to make it that far. That will be in the year 2050. I’ve seen some scientists predict everything from bases on the moon and Mars, driverless cars being almost everywhere, nuclear fusion based electricity, to where we no longer use oil and gasoline for transport, to even people augmented their physical strength and mental powers through computer based implants and prosthetic and Iron Man type suits. I guess I don’t know if I want someone rooting around in my skull planting in chips or injecting me full of blood cell sized machines (at least not right now), but I definitely wouldn’t mind something I could wear that would make me smarter or stronger that I could turn off or take off at a moment’s notice.
Even as much as I love science and tech, I am still adjusting to what is happening and what can be. And only the best minds in science fiction would have even imagined such things that we are working on now when my father was a kid and reading Dick Tracy comic books in the 1950s. I know eventually I will be the old man that has trouble keeping up. I imagine even now my nephews would think it odd I don’t know how to run a 3D printer or a VR headset machine. My twelve year old nephew set up a flight simulator game on VR for my father (a licensed pilot and former Air Force man) recently that my father occasionally uses.
I don’t know what the future holds, certainly not in terms of working. The only advice I give to my nephews and niece is ‘stay flexible.’ No one knows. Maybe people like Mark Cuban will be proven right and that the humanities and arts degrees we have called ‘useless’ and ‘worthless’ degrees for a couple generations will be in as much demand in ten years as STEM and medical degrees are now. Even though I majored in business in college, I am grateful I took some time to read a lot of philosophy and classical literature when I was young and had more energy. And I was able to do it for free via my college’s library. Levitt Library on the York College campus was a second home for me when I was college. If I wasn’t at my dorm room studying, I could easily be found in the library or with a few buddies discussing philosophy, football strategies, history, or even medieval military tactics at the all night truck stop over chicken fried steaks and 99 cent unlimited cups of coffee.
In spite of my recent melt down, I am hopeful again. Zig Ziglar was right when he said that positive attitudes and behavior is like taking baths every day, it requires daily maintenance. No one gets mad when they are extra dirty some days, they just bathe for a little longer. And of course, some days are dirtier and tougher than others.
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.
I have changed in many ways over the years. I’ve noticed changes in my friends and classmates too. I’ve even seen changes in the people I knew in my parents’ age bracket over the years.
One of the changes I’ve noticed in myself with age is that I prefer to spend most of my time at home. When I was a teenager I was rarely at home except to sleep or do homework. When I wasn’t at school or school activities, I was at friends’ houses. I preferred going to friends’ houses as my brother usually had his friends over all the time. I imagine it concerned my parents as I rarely had friends over at the house. I wasn’t anti social, far from it. I just liked spending time at places where I wouldn’t be bothered by my older brother and his friends. When I was in college, I usually spent time in my friends’ dorm rooms or in the student union when I wasn’t at the library or studying for classes. I was on good terms with everyone at my small college, but had only a handful of confidants I felt I could tell anything. Looking back on this years later, I know that most of my socializing and trust issues are because of the mental illness. I probably could have had a larger social network than I did. Yet I’m happy that I managed to stay on good terms with most people even if I was in emotional turmoil much of the time. Just goes to show how powerful our minds are in shaping our reality.
Now that I’m my late 30s I prefer to stay at home most of the time. I would rather host guests now than I would visit them it seems. Granted, I do like to have at least a couple days notice before I’m hosting anyone. I’m still self conscious about my place and what people think of me. Sure, most of the negative vibes I get from others are manufactured by the diseased aspects of my mind. But I guess I haven’t mastered my mind well enough to easily shake these negative vibes just yet. I truly believe our minds are powerful enough to make or break our outward reality.
In my friends’ cases, most of my school mates are now in our late 30s or early 40s. And many of them are having stressful times in recent years. Some have careers not progressing like they had hoped. Some have had failed marriages. Some have had money problems. Some of them have dealt with the deaths of their parents. Some have dealt with serious life changing illnesses of their own. Some of them are dealing with the highs and lows of raising children. Stress and concern seems to dominate many of my friends’ lives. Yet no so much for myself. I guess I had many of my mental illness crisis situations happen to me in my twenties. It stunk that I never had a career get off the ground because of schizophrenia. But it did make me resilient and realize there is more to life than working and paying bills.
Sadly, many people don’t realize this until they are retired or get laid off from a job. As a result of my friends having stress in their lives, many of them are more pessimistic about life in general than I am. I remember how pessimistic my parents and their friends were when they were in their thirties and early forties when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. I guess it’s my generation’s turn to be pessimists and overworked parents. No wonder some jokers suggest that life doesn’t truly start until age forty. Well, I’m about there 🙂 And as much as my twenties stunk, I managed to enjoy my thirties enough to make up for it. Maybe it’s because being on disability pension I don’t have to worry about working a regular job as long as I stay out of debt and live within my means. I can only hope my friends in my age bracket can someday find the joy and peace in their lives that I have experienced for myself in recent years.
I’ve also noticed changes in my parents and people in their age bracket. Seems to me that many people tend to either become more calm in their senior years or more grouchy. Fortunately for me, my grandparents were quite calm in their senior years. In many ways, they were more accepting of my eccentric qualities and questions than even my parents. But, after my parents became grandparents, they started mellowing too. I almost don’t recognize the my parents in their senior years when I compare them to what I grew up with as a kid in the 1980s and 1990s. They are more patient with their grandkids then they ever were my brother and I and our cohorts. But I guess grandkids are nature’s reward for not killing your children when they were teenagers. Many of the people I knew in my parents age bracket when I was a kid are now more calm in their sixties and seventies then they were in their thirties or forties. Of course, there are few who are more sour than ever. Fortunately they aren’t very common.
And the kids with their iPads and smart phones? Well, they’ll eventually turn into productive members of civilization themselves. People complained about my cohorts in the 1990s playing our Nintendo games and listening to our Tupac and Marilyn Manson music. We turned out alright. Back in the 1960s, people complained about the kids watching too much television and listening to The Doors and Elvis. Even my grandparents generation were unloaded on for listening to radio programs, jazz music, and reading comic books. And now we call them ‘The Greatest Generation.’ All young people do stupid things and the parents fear the end of civilization because of their tastes and tech. The best thing that happens to kids is they get out in the world in their twenties and work a few lousy jobs and date a few losers before they find their calling (or at least career) and their spouse or soul mates. And then they have kids of their own and fret over them. Makes me wonder what the teenagers of 2018 will fret about concerning their own kids come 2040 or so. Maybe brain boosting implants will be their iPads or Ninetendo games or radio. Stay tuned, my friends. It is always interesting.
Haven’t been writing much lately but that is mainly because I haven’t had much to report. I have been quite stable for weeks. Haven’t had any real bouts of delusion or paranoia. The excessive anger doesn’t come up very often. The hallucinations have subsided for the most part. The ones I do have are more annoying than fear or anger inducing.
I don’t leave my apartment as much as I would like, mainly from the holiday crowds all over the place. It doesn’t help any that many people I know seem to be in perpetual foul moods all the time. It seems the older I get, the less tolerance I have for irritable people. At this point, there is no way I could go back into working in customer service. I can no longer stomach rude and angry people, even if I get paid for it. Money is poor compensation for having to deal with uncivilized behavior all the time.
Even though I spend most of my time alone and at home, I still keep occupied. Been reading a lot of science journals online and watching science programs on youtube and curiosity stream. It’s too bad that more people aren’t interested in science and tech. Both fields are fascinating, especially the last few years with as fast as these fields have been advancing. The sad thing is I wouldn’t know about any of these advances if I didn’t specifically make a point of seeking this information out. The media, at least easily accessible media, really does a poor job informing people to the current state of science and technology. As much as people use these things, I would think people would be interested in hearing about these things. I get that people are naturally drawn to bad news, it’s how we are wired. I must be weird in that I just got tired of hearing about bad news and tragedy all the time and started seeking out what was going right and well. I get enough bad news and negativity just from being mentally ill, I just don’t need outside sources adding to this.
In other news, Christmas is only two weeks away. I readily admit to being tough to shop for as I am a practicing minimalist. I really don’t require that much to keep me occupied and entertained. I’m sure my family doesn’t find it very thrilling that I ask for things like clothes and home decorations. I like electronics, but there are only so many I need as my computers do most of what I need. I don’t need music CDs as I get most of my music through youtube and spotify anymore. I don’t need movie DVDs as I can get everything through amazon and netflix. I have got to say, having a high speed wireless internet connection has really decluttered much of my life. Besides spending money on food, I just don’t spend as much money on miscellaneous things anymore. Maybe the Star Trek economy where money doesn’t really matter that much isn’t three hundred years away. We could be witnessing the early stages of it already.
I may not make much money but I still live what I consider a fulfilled life. I know that many people of my generation and younger lament that many of us don’t have as much money or material possessions as our parents’ generations, but with much of living being digitalized, do we really need the whole four bedroom house with the picket fence and two automobiles in the garage? What my computer and smart phone can do would have been worth millions back in the 1970s. I probably wouldn’t even own a car except for occasional road trips. As it is, I may not have a lot (not by American standards anyway), but I don’t feel lacking or poor. It was just a matter of realizing what’s really important and adjusting accordingly. It’s a pity that it took for myself becoming mentally ill and losing a career to realize all of this.
I’m currently at my parents’ house for a couple days for the Thanksgiving holiday. My brother, his wife, and their four kids are here too. We have seven of us sleeping in the basement but at least I get my old bedroom. That way I can retreat and regroup if need be. But my brothers’ kids are well behaved and old enough they shouldn’t give me many problems.
This is the first time in months I have been back to my old childhood home. A lot has changed in this town since I moved out in 2005. For one, all of my old high school friends have moved away. The cousins that stayed have families of their own. Most of my old teachers have retired or moved to bigger schools. All my grandparents and a couple of my uncles have died. My old grade school was torn down. The retail store I worked in during the summers went out of business. In many ways this isn’t the same town I grew up in during the 80s and 90s. I haven’t been getting back to my parents’ place much the last several years as none of my old friends live around here anymore. In many ways, this is no longer my town. It doesn’t feel like home and it hasn’t for several years.
I bring up growing up and the changes my parents’ place have gone under because, with my mental illness, those years I grew up here seem like someone else’s life. I started having problems with depression and anxiety when I was seventeen. I was doing quite well in school and involved in many different activities. It seemed like I was on the fast track to a career and life of my dreams, at least that was until the depression and anxiety started. Twenty years later, my seventeen year old self wouldn’t even recognize the thirty seven year old man I am now. I imagine my seventeen year old self would have seen who I am today as a failure. Back then I knew nothing of mental illness and disability. Like many teenagers, I also didn’t have as much empathy as many adults who have had their ups and downs, wins and losses.
If nothing else, fighting this mental illness for twenty years has taught me how to have more empathy for people different than myself. It has taught me patience and how to accept things I can’t change. It has taught me that, contrary to popular belief, life isn’t about keeping up with other people. Life is mainly about competing with your self and being the best you that you are capable of being. He who dies with the most toys is just as dead as anyone else in the cemetery.
I haven’t been giving much time to reflecting on the past for the last few years. I have mainly been focused on the present and future possibilities. I normally have little use for nostalgic thoughts. But I’m sure having them now that I’m at my childhood home for the first time in months. I guess the nostalgia has shown me how much I lost because of this mental illness. Yet, in spite of the life that never was, I think I still have a great deal to stay alive for. I’m interested to see what the next twenty years in this life of mental illness will show me. I can only guess what changes will have come by the time 2037 rolls in.
Had an odd incident over the weekend. One of our tenants accidentally dropped his house keys down the crack in the elevator floor. The keys fell into the elevator shaft. And he cursed me out when I asked him what happened. This was an elderly tenant who doesn’t believe in things like mental illness or even disability insurance. I was taken aback at first by the viciousness of this tenant. But I stayed clam and didn’t respond to his verbal attack. I’m glad that I didn’t yell back at him. But I do wonder why he was mad at me for his gaffe.
Over the years, whether at work, school, or in public, the vast majority of the verbal abuse and threats I have received have been from people over fifty years old. I never could understand why elder people hate younger people. Yeah I’m getting older myself and having unexplainable aches and pains. But I refuse, flat out refuse, to take out my problems on young people or anybody else for that matter. I don’t understand people in general, but I especially don’t understand elderly people or people in places of authority. From what I have seen, it seems the older a person gets, the less empathy they have and the more impatient they become.
When I was working retail and fast food, the vast majority of the verbal abuse I got for not working fast enough came from elderly people. Sure I met some really cool elderly people who treated me well. But I just don’t understand why some people become mean and uncaring when they become older. I mean, older people are more apt to be serious about religion than younger people. Common sense would say those people would be more forgiving, loving, and charitable. Not always the case. I for one will not pull the same abuse on young people like what was pulled on me. I refuse to complain about how they dress. I refuse to complain about their music or movies or media. I’ve had my elders complain about me and my peers since I was in grade school. As if nine year olds are responsible for my country having such low test scores compared to most other developed countries. I just want to show more compassion and understanding to all people, younger and older alike, than what has been shown to me over the years. Humans must be the only species on the planet that actively seek to sabotage their offspring.
I just get tired of all the arguing and fighting all the time. I just want to live in peace with everyone as much as possible. I’m tired of always feeling like I have to look over my shoulder and be on guard at all times. Civilized people aren’t supposed look for arguments or fights. But that isn’t what I’ve seen for a long time.
I’m going off the path of mental illness writing for this entry. But it is something that has weighed on me for years, especially since I live in low income housing where half of the residents are low income senior citizens and the other half are disabled younger people.
I have never understood why people from the older generations complain about the people from younger generations and why younger generations complain about older generations. I never have. I was born in 1980, so that either makes me late Generation X (I’d like to give a beating to whomever coined that stupid term) or early Millennial, at least in terms of generations. And even in grade school I heard about how sucky my generation did in school compared to kids in countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany, etc. I was told we were “unruly”, “stupid”, “thieving”, “lazy”, “whores”, “sluts”, etc. But, the same Baby Boomers (that’s another really stupid term I despise), had their hangups and critics when they were kids too. I’m sure the World War II generations thought the Rapture was nigh when they saw their kids participating in free love, drug abuse, civil rights protests, draft riots, etc. Even many soldiers who went to Vietnam abused alcohol and drugs during their tours. The same Boomers who were rocking out to The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, etc. were horrified when their Gen X kids starting listening to Metallica, NWA, Madonna, etc. And oddly, said Gen Xers, now that they are parents, are freaking out about their kids listening to Lady Gaga and dubstep music. I swear, people instantly forget what it was like starting out as soon as they have kids.
I have zero patience for old people who complain about the “idiot kids.” Likewise, I have zero patience for younger people who complain about senior citizens. The world is going to fall apart as soon as the current generation in power retires and dies? Screw you, no it won’t. Speaking of older generations, I’d love to slap Tom Brokaw for calling the World War II generation “the greatest generation.” I guarantee that the Hitler Youth generation in Germany and the Japanese soldiers of World War II were considered a disgrace to their nations for years. It should be known that many of the World War II soldiers spent their teens and twenties drinking bootlegged booze and chasing flapper girls and suffragettes during the 1920s and early 1930s. I’m sure many of the World War I generation thought their kids were going insane for flaunting the laws of prohibition and promoting such blasphemy as women’s voting rights and wanton promiscuity. But hate for other generations is nothing new. People have been complaining about the loss of virtue and honor in their children’s generations for thousands of years.
Every generation has it’s cranks and losers, it is true. There were war protesters during World War II even. Youtube has videos of these protests. But generations are made up of many millions of people. So to say the “millennials are lazy” or “baby boomers are greedy” isn’t true at all. Such broad generations are cherry picked nonsense. I like the World War II guys who beat back nazism and imperialism, pioneered space flight, and saw to it the Civil Rights act was passed. I also like the Baby Boomers who did much of the early leg work on personal computers, communications tech, produced some really cool music (namely rock and early hip hop), and started breaking down barriers like the Iron Curtain, and pioneered the internet. I also like the Gen Xers who are making renewable power sources finally financially feasible, pioneering private space flight, making international business easier, and building up e-commerce. I also like the Millennials who are building social media, starting businesses, fighting terrorism, trying to spread the ideas of freedom, democracy, and self determination in nations that have been authoritarian or theocratic nations for centuries. And I like people of all generations that see that, regardless our ages or nationalities or creeds, we are all living on the same planet and that what happens in one place doesn’t just stay in one place.
Another thing I am tired of is dystopias and pessimist visions for the future. I never really got into science fiction nearly as much as science nonfiction because most science fiction books and movies depict hopeless and lousy futures and presents such lousy futures as inevitable. Who is going to fight for a better future with “inspiration” like that? One of the reasons Star Trek is so popular even after fifty years is that it portrays a future where humanity has overcome many of their past hangups. It shows what can be possible. It shows a good future worth fighting for. Far more scientists were inspired to pursue science by stories like Star Trek then the Terminator series. As much as people are afraid of Artificial Intelligence turning against humans and killing us all, I would laugh and cry both if AI programs and machines turned out to have more empathy and compassion than humans in general. Besides, we already have millions of AI machines and programs, like every smart phone and computer with internet access. I don’t foresee these things taking over, but I can see humans and machines merging their intelligences and making humans much, much smarter within a few generations. I mean, most people already use their smart phones and computers as brain extenders and they haven’t been around that long. In many ways, people already have the potential to be much smarter and better informed than previous generations simply because of information technology. And if we get to the point that future generations can augment their brains through surgical implants, then our great grandkids will look back us and pity us for being so unintelligent. We may seem like cavemen to the citizens of the 22nd century. I certainly hope so even though I’ll likely never get to see it.
For most of human history, we have made tools to extend our bodies. Now with computers, internet, and AI, we are making tools to extend and augment our brains. I don’t fear technology because technology is merely a tool. Granted, all tools can be used for ill purposes. Fire cooked our food and kept us warm but it also burned down our villages and cities. The printing press made knowledge available to the masses but it also made misinformation and propaganda possible too. I can make friends over the internet I would never otherwise meet but I still have to work around opinionated trolls and trouble makers made more bold by the technology. I try not to take trolls and trouble makers personally as I know most people wouldn’t be saying such things to a live audience. And I try not to take my elders personally when they gripe about my generation because they were young once too and had their elders complain about them. But I wouldn’t mind breaking this pointless and aggravating cycle though. I try hard to not complain about people younger than me because I remember what it was like to be a kid myself and be ragged on by my elders. Maybe people rag on younger people just because we forget what it’s like starting out. And maybe young people don’t like older people because they don’t realize that these elders had many years head start and that someday they could do well themselves given the time and effort.
I’m taking a bit of a detour with this post and try to be a little more humorous than usual. Since I’ve been house bound because of a winter storm for a couple days I got to do some thinking. One of the random thoughts that popped in my head is ‘being an adult beats being a kid.’ Sure I may have had more energy at sixteen than I do at thirty six, but I really didn’t know anything as a teenager. And ignorance coupled with boundless energy can lead to dangerous and stupid things happening. After five years of college, a few years of working, almost thirteen years of living on my own, writing a blog for almost four years, and spending five years now with educational videos on youtube university and binge reading wikipedia, I have come to the conclusion that even now I am not as smart as I thought I was at age eighteen.
I enjoy being an adult. I really do. I love the fact that if a boss is riding my case at work or my coworkers are being dolts, I always have the option of changing jobs or starting my own business. I couldn’t transfer to another school in high school so easily to avoid bullies and immature classmates. I love the fact that I don’t have to go to boring social events because my parents want me to.
As an adult I don’t have to feel guilty about not having legions of fair weather friends. At the age of thirty six I have come to realize a few true hard core friends and some cool extended family is all a person really needs. I don’t have to feel guilty about not being class president or not getting straight A’s. It’s not like I made any money from my popularity or my academic achievements any way. Even on youtube popular producers can make good money, not so in school. I also didn’t like how joyless my high school settings were. A bell rings and we move to change classes but don’t you dare be one second late. I never did like being treated like one of Pavlov’s dogs as a kid. Take abuse and scorn from bullies and classmates but don’t fight back because of zero tolerance laws? At least in the adult world you can run away from an argument or try to plead self defense without losing your entire future.
And I am not intimidated by the fact that as an adult my successes or failures are on me and no one else. I have a mental illness, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to make a decent life regardless. I’m not married nor do I have kids but that doesn’t stop me from being a good influence and good uncle to my nephews and niece. I don’t even have to feel shame for not being married or having kids as an adult. I don’t have a job but that isn’t going to keep me from writing blogs and finding other ways to contribute to my fellow man even if I don’t get money or prestige from it. I don’t have to associate with people who tell me that I’m not a “real man” for not having a job or a family if I don’t want to. Shame and guilt have far less influence on me at thirty six than they did at twenty one. As an adult I am allowed to be more creative and I don’t have many of the restrictions I had as a child. As an adult I don’t have to hit my older brother if he’s irritating me, I just don’t return his calls or avoid him until things calm down. One of the best things that happened to my relationship with my immediate family was moving out of my parents’ house and setting out on my own. We get on each other’s nerves less now than we did when I was a teenager now that I have my own place and I’m not expected to always be in a good mood. If I’m not feeling well, I can just avoid friends and family for a couple days until things blow over.
One thing I enjoy as an adult is watching young people do stupid things. I enjoy it more than when I was the young fool doing stupid things. I know the consequences that are coming but the kids usually don’t have a clue. And I get to chuckle when their schemes come undone. But the young kids eventually become adults and grow out of their stupidity in spite the complaints of old people about the “damn kids.” The boomer generation grew out of using drugs and free love, generation X grew out of binging on MTV and video games, and the millennials will grow out of their nonsense. People forget that before the World War II generation became forever known as the “greatest generation”, many of them were drinking bootlegged alcohol in speakeasies and chasing flapper girls throughout Prohibition before World War II carved them into marble men and women for all eternity. But in spite of my enjoyment of watching young people do stupid things, I don’t hate them for their mistakes. I refuse to complain about young people because my elders complained about how stupid and ungrateful me and my classmates were the entire time I was growing up. I am never doing that to anyone. I know what it is like to be thrown into a group and falsely accused of things I never considered doing. It really sucks. If I ever complain about young people as an old man, I hope someone knocks some sense into me.
I never understood the whole “how do I adult” mentality. Who cares how you adult? It’s not like there’s a teacher who’s going to hold you back if you don’t know how to get red wine stains out of a carpet or how to change a tire. With seven and a half billion people in the world and the magic of the internet, I can ask around for any information I could possibly imagine. Why in the heck should I clutter my mind with mundane information I can easily look up that I may need to know only once or twice in my life? One of my house guests doesn’t like that I don’t decorate my house all nice, then don’t come visit me in my house. We’ll meet at a restaurant or pub instead. You don’t like that I don’t drive fast or sometimes keep fast food trash in my car, no one is holding a gun to your head to make you ride in my car. There is public transit and taxis even in my small town. How do you adult, you may ask. Dude, adult however you dang well please for all I care. I don’t grade on style points. And ironically, most adults are too busy with their own lives to knit pick you over yours.
In short, I really do think most adults worry about a lot of junk that doesn’t matter one bit. Your neighbor has a sports car and you don’t? So what? He’s probably having a mid life crisis and up to his eye brows in debt because he listening to everyone else telling him what he should want out of life and not listening to himself. You got passed over at work for a promotion? Big deal. You know you’re not going to spend the extra money for your retirement fund. You’re worried about being overweight? No problem. One third of the entire world’s population is overweight. Obesity is no longer just an American problem. Besides you probably weren’t that good looking at age twenty any way.
I should wrap this up. In summary I love being an adult. As long as I’m not infringing on the rights of other people, I can pretty much think, say, and write whatever I want. I no longer have a parent or a nanny teacher hanging over my shoulder watching me for every little mistake I make. In short, make mistakes. Learn from mistakes. Go crazy and enjoy the freedoms and responsibility of being a grown up. I for one enjoy being in my thirties far more than I did my teens and twenties. At least now I don’t feel like I have to please a lot of people.