I'm uncertain where exactly I want to take this post, but the inspiration comes from a conversation I was having with a co-worker on the way to the office today.
His view on life was, in essence, "I'm young now, so I can have fun and do what I want. But as I get older, I'm going to have more and more responsibilities, and less and less of my life will be enjoyable until there's little left but duty and obligation." Further, in regard to marriage, he said he could see himself in a couple years wanting to get married, and most likely to a woman who "probably isn't hot but who I get along with in pretty much everything." God. I'll tackle that in a moment.
I was appalled. It was written all over my face. I could not comprehend how a person could resign themselves to a life of diminishing gain, a life of gradually increased torture. A slow death, starting (implying from his reasoning) around the age of 27, and ending gratefully around 75 or so. What the hell could he be living for in an existence like that? Who the hell could he live for, because it clearly wouldn't be himself.
This view of life is so absurdly common. It's implicit nearly every time you hear the phrase, "Well, you're young, do it while you can" or some such derivative. How can a person wake each day and face that their life is drawing inevitably closer to a monotonous slow death, like water torture as an accepted norm of existence?
I don't understand people who say they want to travel while they're young, as if growing older could somehow stop a true desire. I'm young, and I've traveled, and I've enjoyed it. But I've also learned that I don't really know yet what I want to get out of my wanderlust - that I'll understand more of what I want WITH AGE. All I know for certain now is that I prefer living in a foreign country to visiting one for a week or longer. There isn't some imaginary manager of my life, hovering over me and threatening to throw out my sick days if I don't use them before I've reached 30, but most people believe that.
Pook said it best, paraphrasing, the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the former invests his time, while the latter spends it. The successful person plants the seeds of talent, of wealth, and grows them over time making their life easier and more fun as they grow older. The unsuccessful person spends it all and has nothing in what should be the glorious twilight of their lives.
Nearly any person I've ever come to know fantasizes about their final days and nights. The final day in college, the final night at home before leaving on a trip or joining the military, the last time you see your love. But nobody fantasizes about their final years as a joyous conclusion to a life spent moving toward your highest values and desires. They see it like the plot of a movie that peaks to early, and drags you with it to the end, leaving only a sigh of relief when the credits finally roll.
About his view on marriage. I asked him, sincerely, if his is a view that many other share. I truly believed that nearly every person who makes the colossal mistake of getting married does so with honest intentions and as a true error in judgement. Not willfully stepping into mediocrity or worse. He said he doesn't know, but I suspect it isn't so uncommon. Seriously. I can't even bring myself to tear this apart any further than it does itself. It's just so fucking stupid.
I don't claim to live an ideal life. I do claim to desire one, and I do claim to be making decisions in that direction. And it is an upward direction.