why it should be easy to have an awesome conversation every day

23 08 2008

or, why do most people choose to suck?

the gentleman, the psychologist, John Locke, who postulated that we’re all blank slates, tabula rasa, was wrong.  there’s always a little something stirring in our chemistry long before and long after we exit the womb that defies any learning or predictability.  but, you know, he was pretty close.

we enter the world and most of us start learning a little.  presumably, we’re wide-open, and we quickly learn to filter down the endless inputs, learn to focus attention, learn to connect things in our minds, and on and on.   overall, we all have pretty similar existences from the start.  at least within our cultures.

and within our cultures, we go to school, and even across school districts, are taught much of the same stuff.  maybe i was really interested in space exploration, and you were really interested in great white sharks, but when we met, we both had backgrounds in each others’ interests, and different perspectives on the subjects were interesting enough.  at least.  this continued for a long time, and only got more interesting through high school and college, when we started having our own ideas on the big things, like religions, histories, administration of things we were parts of, et cetera.  I submit that life only got more fun and interesting as we all seemed to be simultaneously considering similar questions and there was so much conversation about it.  Remember staying up all night talking to someone just because you were learning new things, thinking things you hadn’t thought before?  Remember how you should have been dead tired, but the energy kept coming, like the topics of discussion themselves were generating more fuel than you had to put into them, and suddenly, you couldn’t stop there.  More to talk about.  To get to the bottom of.  To come to opinions about.

And then, although I don’t think many of you came to solid conclusions, exactly, and although you likely hadn’t exhausted talking and learning about all of the things that could interest you, there was a dispersement of people, a spraying about of your learning networks.  Grad schools and jobs, mostly.  And suddenly you were too busy learning a new walk to continue talking about interesting things, generally.  And you couldn’t stay up all night when you had to be in the office at 8 am.  And You were getting married, and you and your new spouse had to make some plans for the future. Plans to be just like your parents, or better than your parents, or to be in the same ball park as your friends, who were all becoming standard issue adults with minor individualistic highlights that proved that they still had personalities and were good fun, as always.

So suddenly there wasn’t a standard discourse that everyone could relate to, right?  Because we all moved into different areas and started different careers?  No, there’s great news… every one of these assholes watches Flip That House and has a new abiding obsession with protecting and growing their money for comfortable retirement.  Everyone’s got an office dick to complain about, who screws everyone over or didn’t deserve this or that (nobody is the office dick, miraculously–we all just know them).  I’m just going to put this out there… cut your skin and check for the circuitry, because you may been infected with the useless robot asshole virus.  It wouldn’t be a shock.  There are legions of you.

In our twenties, we should be coming into the powerful phase of reasoning and divining abilities.  We’re finally amassing enough experience to realize that we have skipped over a lot of the really interesting things just because they weren’t part of the curriculum and we were too automated to notice.  Probably some of those high school dropouts we thought so lowly of figured this out earlier.  I mean, you do know that the American educational system was modeled after the wildly successful automobile assembly line, don’t you?  This is why there are grades.  You get wheels, move on, you get doors, move on…  It’s also how they build robots.

Anyway, we should really be using our unique abilities and interests to be covering and sharing a huge variety of interesting things.  You should be able to stop someone on the street and ask them what they’ve been thinking about lately and get a genuinely interesting response that can be discussed for hours.  Instead, you’re probably going to be sized up to decide how big a creep you are and whether you’re a threat, and whether humoring you for a moment will affect their ability to pick up dinner from KFC before their electronics department manager mate finishes putting up the new signage and picks up little Mattie from Precious Years Daycare.  I just want to hear that you look up at the stars and think their movement indicates a celestial clockworks of cosmic precision but have no fucking clue what it intends to count down to!  Sure is pretty though.

Cars, fences, certifications, and workweeks destroy our collaborative abilities, and worse, our natural gift of being interesting.  It truly should be no sweat to find someone and have a good conversation.  We’re all having the most profoundly bizarre experience–does anyone even wonder how any consciousness was ever born, let alone any form of life to begin with?–and I wonder sometimes if anyone has ever even realized it.  Can we be so efficiently mechanized to march along in our lives and into our graves without giving the world beyond our cultures, which I promise you are as surface shallow as they can get, any real thought?  As Bjork says, speaking as mother ocean, “You count the centuries, I blink my eyes.”  And the oceans?  A blink of the eye of the expanding, cooling universe.  Nothing.

Still, we could spend our entire lives learning and being constantly astonished by creatures and things found on any square mile of this earth, or discussing music and its mystical ability to affect us, and making more music, and drawing pictures to look at and talk about, learning things about ourselves and each other that we barely might have guessed existed.  If only there were time to pay attention, right?  Maybe after American Idol.

You simple prick.


you can go back… but it kind of sucks

9 08 2008

So, I can’t imagine that anyone who looks at this blog didn’t know about my other blog, the big hiking trip I planned, or by now, its failure.  If you need updating, it’s at unguidedtours.wordpress.com.

I’m still frustrated and disappointed about that trip’s dissolving, and so don’t feel like discussing it, but I think I’m yet planning to hike… it’s a bit much to think about now, considering the amount of time I spent working on the other one, but, I don’t know, I’ll get around to it.

In the meantime, I decided I should keep from being idle, as I can certainly be when without a plan, so I came down to Carrboro today to take care of a few things.  Primarily, I needed to address the forks on my motorcycle, which leaked their dampening oil just before I left.  They need to have their seals replaced, and I’m not entirely confident in my ability to do so, so I’m researching…  how much others want for it (too much!), what tools I’d need to try to pull it off myself (not that any of my tools are in Carrboro anyway), what parts I need to buy if I’m going to try, et cetera.  Anyway, it’s not going so great, which is only  sharpening the general malaise born of failure that I’m feeling at this time.

This sounds dramatic, I guess.  This is probably as fleeting as any other feeling.  But there’s something that seems especially depressing about this moment.  I played a little tennis with Paul, and that was okay, but on the way back, he decided to drive me by my old apartment.  It was dark.  Everything else seemed the same.  Tumbleweed the neighborhood cat was on the prowl.  I wanted to pet him and hang out a minute, but it didn’t seem right.  One of my neighbors was on her porch.  I have always enjoyed hanging out with her, but I didn’t say hello.  I realized that I’d actually lived there longer than I’d lived in any one place since I lived with my mother–only two years, but still the longest I’ve lived in a place–and I’d become as much a part of that community as I’ve ever become.  I felt like I still belonged there, but was in exile… my return was incomprehensible.  Yeah, yeah, it sounds dramatic.  All I’m saying is that I’m feeling placeless and embarrassed.

Maybe I’ll feel better when I get my motorcycle on its way to being repaired…  I plan on writing about whether happiness or freedom is more important for a being.  God knows what I actually think.  But it was something that started to tickle my noodle while hiking.