Sunday, February 28, 2010


Tomorrow I turn 64, and I feel... remarkably little. Well no, that's not accurate. I'm not sure how I feel save to say somewhat Sartrian. The world has turned out to be much bigger than I originally thought, and my contributions to it smaller than I'd hoped. I am finding there is something fascinating--possibly freeing--about being in the last fifth of one's life, but too many fears remain the same, and the image I see in the mirror can no longer fool itself that it's 1980. The passions of earlier years have evanesced.

I'm not sure why it's increasingly difficult to get excited about ideologies and movements. There is a sense that my generation's body of work has left only a faint imprint outside the boundaries of popular art, and though it's the right of every age to complain about the younger ones, this time around it seems justified. We've entered some truly scary times, times that make me glad I have no children--I would fear for their future and doubt their ability to survive. I believe morals have changed and lives come more cheaply. The instruments of violent death--from Saturday night specials to stinger missiles--are now commonplace and wielded by adolescents, while we have lost that sense of moral outrage that fuels sane behavior and acceptable social conduct. We've accepted the easier, softer way and this is not a good thing.

Simultaneously, while being willing to accept unacceptable behavior, we've also become criminally litigious and developed an environment of suspicion and qualms. With communities terrified of accidents and besieged by lawsuits, children no longer play in playgrounds. In fact, in many neighborhoods, children no longer play.

This isn't to say it's all bad; it isn't. There has been social progress in some areas, righting of wrongs and a freer acceptance of others' differences. But I can't shake the feeling that we're imploding. We're living longer than ever, and there have been remarkable increases in longevity just in the last few years. But is that in and of itself good? Is staying around for the sake of staying around an end onto itself? Too many debts and not enough money at all levels from the international to the individual; too many ways to communicate increasingly less; too much isolation in the midst of overcrowding. I may be wrong but I get the feeling we're increasingly passive, willing to watch things go by rather than participate.

But then again, what do I know? A signal advantage of getting older is that one can become irascible--in fact, it's expected. I'm getting to like being curmudgeonly and plan to improve and increase this skill.

You've been warned.

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