“Once everybody’s gone and I’ve been here for to long, to face this on my own. Well I guess this is growing up.” – Blink 182
Recently something has happened to me that I can only call a strangle hold of maturity. The world knocks you pretty hard in the gut when you decide to move in with your girlfriend, to a different state and get a job without any idea how to actually do anything. No prior job experience outside of a few high paying cakewalks handed to you by friends. No college degree, no. fucking. clue. I have never paid rent before, never balanced a budget, washed the dishes, did the laundry, fixed a sink, ironed a shit, tied a tie. Algebra is bullshit, sex-ed is completely useless. If high schools taught a class on how to set up a 401k, fill out a job application, buy health insurance, or change the oil in your car any those things would be far more helpful in the real world then a semester devoted to Huckleberry Finn or how to properly execute a K-turn.
After high school I developed something of a self righteous attitude. I honestly believed that I knew better than EVERYONE. I am sure that most nineteen year olds feel that way. I bullshit my way through college courses the way I bullshit my way through high school. Being of slightly above average intelligence is something of a curse. You’re smart enough to grasp most complex concepts with ease and to dumb to ever realize how to properly utilize this advantage. You get an inflated ego and develop a shitty work ethic. Even the dumb ass kid in class gets a better grade on the pop quiz then me. How is that possible? Probably because I don’t own a notebook for this class and I smoked a joint twenty minutes ago. My freshman year of college I had this habit of mixing up the time and day of two classes that were held in the same building. So, when I walk into the classroom 221 at four o’clock on Tuesday, the teacher repeatedly informed me that it I was in the wrong place. I needed to be in that room on Thursday. Apparently he got tired of me being late to a class I didn’t even have and looked up my schedule. It’s not that I don’t care, because I do. Sometimes to much. It’s that I don’t pay attention to details and have no regard for “standard operating procedure.”
“Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” George Carlin
I really am not that cynical. Although by reading my writing I am sure that isn’t really something that seems realistic to claim. I do honestly believe that most people try their best, at least 50% of the time the good guy gets ahead, and deep down their are good things hidden in even the most base human beings. Unfortunately that’s not always the way it comes out. The reason, I think, that a lot of the time when I write I come off as negative, dark, possibly even bitchy. Is because that is what all writers do. Read any news paper or classic novel and consider the story lines. Corruption, death, disaster, lies, sex. Their is something innate in the writers brain that makes them look at things and find the problem. A desire get to the cold dark center and point out what you try not to see. Exit the Platonic cave. My cynicism is a handicap born from practice. What the words represent for us are the hopeful beginning of a solution, some sort of voice calling you away from your ESPN or Glamor article, something to make you think, “Hey maybe I should do something about this.” Perhaps to make you consider that the status quo is stupid and broken, that all we have to do to fix it is be honest with each other, even if it hurts.
Plus, if I wrote about things that were nice and pleasant I would’t have much to write about. It’s hard and frankly repetitive to writing glowing reviews. Think Homer Simpson the food critic. Ice cream is delicious. End of story. Sex is lots of fun. Enough said. I enjoy waking up every morning not being in prison. Good thought, go on. I could write long diatribes about how wonderful life is, how love will save us from all things evil, and that we are meant for a higher purpose. That is all good and fine to hear from your sponsor when your feeling down and staring at a bottle of Jim Beam with no intention of leaving the house on a Saturday. (Been there, done that) But in reality when you have to wake up and go to the same job every day, when you realize that life isn’t going to get much better than it is right now, and when you finish washing the dishes after eating a good meal, sitting down and being appreciating the wonder of the universe isn’t terribly exciting. I could honestly not care less about a discussion on peace, love, and understand or a higher purpose. For an idealist thats great shit but the hippies are dead for a reason. Because that line only works when everyone is strung out of their skull on pot and acid. In reality all I want to do is sit down with a beer, watch the Knicks somehow keep winning and go to bed with my pretty girlfriend. Thats enough for me. If that is what you call cynical or close minded than so be it. I think the idea that in order to feel fulfilled in life you have to graduate from the right college, drive the cool car, have the big office job, and retire with your golf clubs and gin martinis at 65 is fucking cynical. It’s just a difference in point of view.
My point here is that I don’t really hate anything. I don’t care enough about “big issues” to hate anything. Things are good or they are bad, either way with enough distance or enough whiskey I won’t have to deal with them in twenty minutes. I don’t think the the world is fucked up. Not anymore so then it always has been. At 23 I think most people are suddenly concerned with the future in a way that they have never been before. In the sense that you used to predicate a lot of your actions on what you expected down the road. Now down the road is thirty and that’s a fucking wake up call. Suddenly you are thrust into the now. You wake up from the booze coma after half a decade of adolescent soaking, if your lucky. There is always that thirty to forty something that still hangs out at the same bar they did when they turned legal. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that because I know those people and I like them. They have good stories and are always willing to let you borrow their pick-up truck. My point is that eventually you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself “What matters?” Not in the great cosmic scheme of things, not to society at large, not to your parents, and not even to your significant other. What matters to you? And if you got that figured out, then hell, thats half the battle.
The only thing I can control are my choices. Not the past and not the future. Everything that isn’t transpiring right now is a mess of probability and quantum entanglement. God playing dice. As long as I can wake up tomorrow and look in that mirror not feeling like I am torching what I stand for then I can live with that. Maybe I am just a stupid kid that thinks he has learned a thing or two. Not maybe, probably. The fact is, that right now, I couldn’t be happier about it.