I stared at the screen of my phone for a second, waiting on a draft of an article to load. Then I realized I hadn’t written anything yet.
Journaling, eh? It’s tough.
I don’t really know what it’s supposed to accomplish so I find it hard to do. Or at least I find it hard to… Hard to feel as though I’m accomplishing something when I don’t know what’s supposed to happen because of what I do.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe what I could take from this is that I don’t need to know what’s to come before I do something that’s productive by principle. I mean it’s probably better than not writing at all, even if I’m just spilling words from the top of my head, tilting my head to the side like a wondering dog, water bowl overflowing off one side like a newbie kappa. New to it, to being open-headed.
Headed. In any which way. Held my jacket in the middle of a crowd maybe half a month ago. It was an open mic freestyle night at an asian-fusion pub called a cafe, though I’m not sure they served coffee. Why did that feel so lame to me, so embarrassing? That I was holding all my stuff although I wasnt leaving any time soon? Man. I guess it was partly ‘cuz I took up more space that way and partly because that’s not how people usually stood in crowds they aren’t leaving for some time. I was aware I was different. There wasn’t much space else to leave my belongings, though.
I have to wonder why I wish life was different. Zombie apocalypse fantasies are alluring and it’s hard to understand why. Does it just seem easier to live in a world like that? It seems more game-like to me. I don’t mesh well with normal life. Too often, too easily I fall back into the habit of sleeping my days away, reading and eating in my waking hours. Biding my time, I guess. But what for.
I think zombie apocalypses (octopuses, octopi?) are fascinating because the world would begin anew. It would be exciting again because there would be so many things to discover, so many new ways to live, so many challenges to overcome.
I don’t fantasize about the death, the chaos, and the visceral suffering that come with zombies and their world. I ignore that part when going off on my mind-trips to that alternate reality. I only think of what it would take to survive, what would work, what would be good ways to live.
I think it’s creativity that I seek and crave. I want to learn something new and then do something with that knowledge. Like a video game. Get taught, act out that knowledge, then succeed. Meaningfully. I can’t imagine living in a world where things don’t work that way.
I’m sure the world doesn’t act this way anymore but now I’m too afraid of it: It’s been 20 years so far, 16 or 17 of which I can remember, and for 14 of them, I’ve been working to conquer a binary realm of remembrance and repetition. Words on a page that we’re asked to understand, then twist into required configurations. Formulas: input and output.
But who am I to say that such things are wrong? It’s the nature of knowledge. Language is a gift. I shouldn’t be down on people for using language to explain what’s true about the universe to me.
I want to be potent. I want to use knowledge to do powerful things. But I’m afraid of school. I’m afraid of studying that way. Learning that way.
The world is a hard place. Great things aren’t easily accomplished by an individual’s effort alone. A great scientist might contribute a winning formula that changes the world forever, but he can’t put that formula to use on his own. No one builds an atom bomb with their own hands, with materials they dug out of the ground themselves.
And as the world gets older, the big things will keep getting bigger and farther out of our individual reach.
Tomorrow, interstellar travel will have been invented. The world will get bigger and we will get smaller. Our reach will stay the same but the things we see as great and worth reaching for will be on the other side of a larger universe.
The individual’s power will never catch up to the potential of humanity as a whole. For every desktop 3D printer, there’s an experimental nano-machine cloud connected to a scientists mind telepathically. For every cheap trip to orbit by way of space elevator, there are countless more frontiers that most of humanity won’t reach until it’s no longer a frontier. Not until it’s just another roadside attraction on the way to what people really want to see but can’t get close to.
That’s another reason apocalypses are fantasized about, I guess. They make the world a lot smaller. In a world without all our ground-breaking technology, it’s pretty great just to get from one side of town to the other, to be alive for a month or two, to find one last can of corned beef in the pantry (although it’s pretty great to find that even in today’s world).
In a smaller world, the things that are within our reach seem greater because those are the frontiers of what the world is capable of. But we can’t hope for a smaller world because that world can’t sustain how much humanity has already grown. And smaller worlds are pretty bad at sustaining us anyway, at least considering apocalypses and humanity’s own checkered past.
Where then should I turn for satisfaction in life? Fortunately, to do something great isn’t the only thing I have a desire for. For one, there’s a desire to love and be loved by other people, the desire to regard highly (worship) something far greater than myself (God), and the simple pleasures in life like food, sunsets, and riding a bike around dusty parking lots in the crisp air late at night.
That’s not to say that the desire to do something great isn’t beautiful or legitimate. Like the desire for sexual intercourse, it has a place that’s both wonderful and necessary in our lives. But put it on a pedestal, regarding it higher than you should, and it ultimately disappoints you. And if it’s the only thing you’re looking forward to, that disappointment can paralyze you, even end you. So it’s important to think of things as how they really are. I’m sure there are consequences to thinking too little of these kinds of desires, too.
I’m not sure education in the west needs to change. I can’t say; personally, I just approached it all wrong. I put greatness on a pedestal. I made it my bread and butter but that’s not how things work. Fortunately, I was wrong about what makes life worth living.
I don’t have to be Einstein, Rick Grimes, Captain Kirk to enjoy life, although I’d be willing to step into the role granted I have nothing more important going on. All I need is God, friends & family, and good food, in that order.
Old people sure are bad at teaching kids these things. Or maybe they just assume we’re not all as dumb as I am. Thank God they’re so trusting.