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Friday, June 11, 2004

Ruminations

By: Michael Akerman


First off: GOD! I hate those freaking Extra gum commercials. I wish whoever is creating them would either be fired or die.




::coughs:: Anyways...




As one grows older, one begins to ruminate more. It's simply a fact of life. More time is devoted to thinking about life. I'm not sure I would say less is spent living it; I think it's just that life becomes automatic enough that one can devote concentration to thinking.

It's odd for me, because I've always felt that I was old. I can't remember when I didn't think a lot. Of course, in elementary school I pondered concrete subjects and scientific fundamentals much more often than the abstract, truly important subjects.

Which leads one to the conclusion that I must understand these abstract topics better now. On the contrary, I simply have firmer theories about them. No one truly understands those issues that are really important; we simply decide what we believe, look for supportive reasons, and, hopefully, maintain the ability to see these issues from other perspectives and change our opinion if these alternate viewpoints have better reasons than our original beliefs.

Which is why debating (arguing, as my mom calls it) is a great thing. Remember, it's always easier to see your own beliefs clearly, especially if they are deeply rooted. When debating, assuming there is no forced assignment of positions on topics (that really defeats the purpose), the opposing viewpoint has reasoned their position much better than you ever could.

I was about to forget what I was going to talk about. At any rate, I've written myself into a corner, and I have no segway to what I was going to talk about after writing about all that aging stuff, so...

TRANSITIONING...

When I was a kid, everyone wanted to grow up. Everyone wanted the freedom, the knowledge, the power, the respect, and, according to Freud, sex. In retrospect, it's obvious to any halfwit that these are grandiose pipe dreams. Most wonder how children could be so deluded. I wondered the same thing. When I say wondered, I mean that at that age, I did not look forward to growing up. Because frankly, it didn't make any sense. If every year of childhood carried more responsibility, why would that pattern break? Don't get me wrong: I'm not pessimistic in nature. I'm merely rational. It's fine deluding yourself, as long as you are deluding yourself on purpose. If you are obviously wrong, but don't notice, it is simply foolish.

Really, I loved childhood. I knew I had freedom, and having fun was socially acceptable. I also knew that, eventually, I wouldn't be allowed to really play pretend anymore. It's sad that American Puritan morals demand formality and rationality at all times from adults (which is why we regard comic book and fantasy nerds who dress up in character as weird). Come to think of it, I still play pretend. I'm really very childlike. I just play with a new, socially accepted medium. I'm a gamer, which is an interesting compromise, since playing pretend physically is considered delusional, but when separated from the imaginary world by an obvious, non-mental barrier, it's generally acceptable.

Anyways, I never looked forward to fundamental shifts in age as a child. Not birthdays, of course. People don't treat you any differently after a birthday. Rather, graduations from one grade to another never struck me as something "good." It's merely a responsibility, like paying taxes. I still don't think graduations are something to celebrate, really. Maybe I'm just able to take them in stride because I understand the ramifications of graduating, while most have that odd mix of wonder and fear of the unknown. They find themselves in this predicament because they don't seek enough information, but I can't do anything about that. I can only suggest to others and lead by example.

Maggie asked me once why I never seem bothered by things. I think most people forget that everything is temporary. There are very few things that can truly affect your life in any noticeable way. As long as you're generally plugging along in the right direction, mistakes are nothing to sweat. People always expect the fallout to be worse than possible. Most expect that they will suffer social distancing of some kind, as others view their mistake as a fundamental personal failing. Yet they forget all the times this never happened ever, in the history of the world. No, one must only worry about general negative trends. Oddly, these are generally more damaging because they don't worry about these. Possibly because they are less immediately noticeable, alcoholism, marijuana and other drug use, wanton sex, and other hooliganism is often overlooked by society until it has festered to a fundamental, stable failing. Compounding this, these activities are praised.

At a certain point, one can hold an internal dialogue that rivals any interpersonal dialogue. I believe I can do this, and that, I suppose, is what I just did. But now I'm tired, and I could continue this post relatively indefinitely if I didn't stop somewhere. So, I'm stopping here.

~Michael Akerman,
..."See you, space cowboy!" -Cowboy Bebop

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