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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Random Thoughts on Holidays, Family, and Younger Generations

Been feeling quite stable the last several days.  I still have my flare ups of anxiety and irritability but fortunately they are not as intense as they once were.  I’m beginning to reduce some of the doses of my medications as I tend to do well mentally in the late fall and winter months.  I’m even not as irritable about Christmas this year.  I see people are already putting up their decorations.  I haven’t decorated for holidays in years.  I just don’t see the need to.  I will no doubt continue to avoid the mall and the big box stores during the holidays as I can now do all my shopping online.  Thank God for amazon and the postal service.

I did a little Christmas shopping for myself already in the way of a couple new books and a couple computer games.  I don’t usually go all out for the holidays being on a limited budget.  I don’t buy a lot of gifts for people for Christmas simply because I usually don’t have that much money.  But then again, even Jesus hasn’t gotten Christmas gifts in 2000 years.  Must be rough that everybody but you gets gifts on your designated birthday.  No wonder practitioners of other faiths think Christians are odd 🙂

I have found myself eating less over the last week or so.  I usually eat two meals a day and drink lots of water and caffeine between meals.  Even though caffeine can make me irritable in large doses, it does act as an appetite reducer for me.  It’s not necessarily a bad deal as I haven’t had to buy groceries in three weeks.  I’m eating less, sleeping less than usual (but I don’t feel tired or sluggish), getting outside more often in spite the colder weather, and genuinely feeling better than I did this summer and early fall.

As of right now I don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving.  My cousins already had theirs and my aunts are going to their kids’ places.  It may be just myself this year again.  I opted out of Thanksgiving last year as I wasn’t feeling mentally stable and didn’t want to have problems around my brother’s kids.  I probably should volunteer at one of the community Thanksgiving dinners that groups like the Knights of Columbus or the local food pantry puts on.  One year my entire extended family and I volunteered at a community dinner in my hometown.  Found out there were more shut ins and family less people than I thought.  But if it is just me I just may go to the KFC and buy one of their large family meals the night before and live off that for a day or two.  A friend of mine traditionally has lobster instead of turkey.

Even though I may not be doing anything really special for the holidays I can always call or video conference with family and friends.  Thanks to the internet and social media platforms if you don’t stay in contact with friends and family it’s your own doing.  I’ve been getting back on Facebook more now that the hoopla of the election has finally died down.  Regardless of whether I go to my mother’s place or not I’ll definitely make a point of keeping in touch with my parents.  I talk to my parents usually twice a week even though I’m in my mid thirties.  I talk to them more now than when I was in my late teens and twenties.  I don’t know what it is but they seem more interesting now and less domineering now then when I was in high school.  But I suppose since I don’t live in the same town and have proven I can be on my own for a dozen years it’s like they’re more old and wise friends rather than the authority figures they were when they were when I still lived in their house.

I just hope I never catch myself complaining about the younger generations when I get older.  I’m seeing my friends in my age bracket complaining about teenagers and college students and I’m thinking “Dude, that was us twenty years ago.  We didn’t know anything back then and we still turned out alright.  Ease off.”  If I ever find myself complaining about the “kids” and/or talking about how much better it was in the past, I hope someone comes along and slaps some sense back into me.  I remember what it was like being a kid and listening to the elders complain about me and my cohorts.  And back then I promised myself I would never voluntarily put anyone younger than I am through that.  It sucks not being taken serious because of your youth.  It sucks not being taken serious because of my mental illness.  But that is a topic for another place and time.