When I got home there were a bunch of emails waiting for me from people who might want to do social things with yours truly over the next couple of weeks. That's always nice, or at least after the social drought I've been experiencing recently. Seriously my social life has been like the dust bowl recently. On Thursday I found bits of tumbleweed in my day planner and a note asking whether there was any work around here from some guy named Tom Joad. I wish things were more even when it came to spending time with other people. My ideal is 2-3 times a week to hang out or catch a movie or whatever. Instead I tend to go a couple weeks without seeing anyone and then get overwhelmed one week with like 5 outings. I know I'm not going to be getting a telegenic girlfriend any time soon, but you wouldn't expect my male friends to be synchronized in their social needs and desires. They are.
My boss and I were talking about youth yesterday. I was down on it, complaining about our culture's obsession with the young and mentioning that most of my contemporaries are shallow people without perspective or even an attempt to grapple with the truly important issues that define a life. Even those who are involved in political or cultural causes seem to be involved in them the way that middle aged men are involved in sports-leagues. They are something to invest emotional energy and time into and build social relationships around but they are often unquestioning of the orthodoxy of whatever the cause celebre of the moment might be. He said that youth is a time when many people feel real and passionate and connected but of course agreed that life does not end at 30 or 40 or even 65 and that the stuff that interests young people is often of significantly less value when seen with more developed sensibilities. The thing is, I don't feel 'real' in my youthful state. In fact I feel impatient to grow up and be in a position where I have both more experience and more opportunity to use my faculties. Drugs, alcohol, casual sex, unfocused rebellion, none of them have much appeal to me. I am more energized by time spent with people in their 30's and 40's, who are energized about politics and family and even the occasional bit of philosophy.
I think that this is part of why I've been depressed recently, and by recently I mean off and on for the last 11 or so years. I feel like I'm stuck in a super-extended version of one of those movies where the middle aged guy gets to go back and relive his youth. That's great for 94 minutes (91 if you don't count credits) when there's just enough time to have sexual relations with an underage girl, beat up the big school jock, and learn a valuable life lesson or two. It sucks when it means day after day of feeling under appreciated and handcuffed in your life. I know that life is what you make of it and blah blah blah blahblahblahblah. I know that I should be reading and writing even more, watching less TV, not playing Grand Theft Auto or Madden, and turning myself into a paragon of self-discipline or virtue. Things don't actually work that way, vices are part of life and there is much to be gained from time wasting as long as you don't do it with an empty mind. Sometimes ideas need to marinate in your brain and be given a few passes through the subconscious before they can come out in good shape. Every time I think that discipline defines genius I remember James Joyce and his lifelong war against his liver. Self-destructive tendencies run deep in all of us and the beast must be fed.
So I muddle along, putting in effort and time when I can and trying not to kill myself over everything that I don't do. I've gotten better at that, better at not beating the crap out of myself every night for every wasted moment of the day. That's a positive. What I haven't really improved at is finding a way to build those wasted moments into something meaningful. I'm okay with wandering through the desert for 40 years but only if I'm confident that Israel's on the other side. That's obviously not a given.
Transitions are often long and painful when they're meaningful. That's a fact of life. You get up from your old comfortable place towards the world and waddle on unsteady legs towards the light. I need to keep reminding myself that that's what I'm doing right now and damn it it's GOING to hurt and while that can be ameliorated it can not be eliminated. I just have to deal and keep on going. Scrape by, fight harder, work towards the future as best I can and not be obsessed by time lines or guarantees or anything else. There's a lot to be gained from instant gratification but some of the best perspective and most interesting work comes from those who have wandered alone in the desert for some time. I've already got some sand in my shoes but it looks like there'll be more before there's less. That's okay. It has to be.