Monday, April 18, 2011


When we're kids, we have all the potential in the world and everything is special.  It is a nice place to be if you can get it.  Part of becoming older is the slow realization that almost everything we were told when we were kids is a bit of a lie.  Like the idea that people only judge you based on your intrinsic ability and not your looks.  Or that you can do/be anything you want.  These things are just not true.  On the other hand, as time stretches out in front of us, and we age into that time, more and more time stretches out and we can start to envision our death--it is difficult to do so, because thinking about death usually only comes about in the short term (when danger arises).  Typical long term thinking sort of reverts back to the child-hood daydreams, except with adult themes.  Equality.  Values.  You know, all those totally meaningless terms that we throw around.  Strike that.  They aren't meaningless.  They are instead full of meaning; meaning that we actually are always aware of: they tell us which groups to associate with and which to avoid.  Childhood dreams come back!  Come back and show me the way.

I'm sorry, I'm unfair here.  Our emotional palate is as varied (or more so) than our intellectual capacity, and that's what makes each side so damn intriguing.  There are tremendously beautiful and touching events, people, and interactions.  They're just faster and more-short lived than we ever thought as kids.

I don't too much thinking about high school or college behavior, mostly because I am no longer in high school or college.  But I certainly remember a lot of the experience of going to high school and college.  I remember trying to rush through.  I was always focused on the big goals, and not the small ones.  Living life successfully happens when we can invert the paradigm and see the high value in some of the small everyday interactions that consistently drive us, instead of hopelessly saccharine visions of the future that will never come to pass.  How to do that exactly is less clear.   We've gotta go talk to people who are about to die, and then talk to their kids.


Anonymous said...

The big goals - Bernie Madoff - who I imagine had very big goals of having very big piles of money and power, and did indeed achieve those goals - would he have had those goals if he knew it would lead to the suicide of his son, who left behind a young child and wife? When we set goals, we can be foolishly denying the vicissitudes of life - we want only pleasure, gain, praise, fame; we don't want pain, loss, criticism, disgrace. Setting goals can also help us stay the course and live a great life, helping others and the world.

hmm said...

Setting long term goals are almost always singular in that they focus on potential benefits, and they rush that our imagination produces when we think about the benefits of achieving the goal. Yes, those larger principles can also be forces for good. They'll still lack all of the details that accompany the actual experience, and within those details will be a chest of unexpected negotiations and downfalls. We often idolize celebrities only to bring them down again and again in tabloids--and it sells. Why? Implicit is the assumption that celebrity (high status) affords high happiness, and at the same time that we all want to be the center of attention because we think that it will bring us happiness, we also are supremely jealous.

Anonymous said...