Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A post about knowing how to live

A female acquaintance recently said in her MSN display name that she apparently did not how to live. I'm not sure whether this is a positive or negative thing. One way of thinking about it is, if the thought has occured to you, you are motivated to do something about it. Yet, people generally don't like to admit to this, and more importantly - they genuinely do not think that they have this problem.

It is not, incidentally, as arbitrary as you might think. I've known plenty of characters who thought they were doing A-OK, but who were deep in a pattern of making objectively shitty life choices (in short, they were in deep shit). Most established measures of success are ethereal, but there are concrete ones out there.

Another way of parsing this sort of statement is that the person is deeply unhappy, but has no idea how they can improve things. This is a recognizable problem among youth in an environment such as Small Country, which is going through massive economic growth, and the potential for success is unassailably manifest. Some people have the unfortunate combination of being both indecisive enough to flounder when they ought to take charge (of themselves, first and foremost), and intelligent enough to realize that they could be doing so much better.

Not that I'm Bill bloody Gates myself, but the reason I'm being superior here is because I had a particular goal for most of my conscious existence, and I've achieved it. That goal was to create a situation devoid of anxiety. Now, my life is far from perfect; but I've always suffered under the pressure of coming from a distinguished family.

(Just one example: my grandfather on Dad's side was in the glassmaking industry, and not only was he the chief engineer at a major Soviet glass factory (a Jewish man! In the Soviet Union!), but he actually wrote a book on how to make glass, and it was translated into Chinese. Think about it. He taught glassmaking lessons to the people who fucking invented glass.

Anyway, I wasn't so much under pressure to succeed, as under pressure to not embarass my family. I got mediocre grades in school, and that was OK, because I did well enough on my exams to get into Posh Uni; and then, I got a job that pays enough to not worry about money at an everyday level, yet isn't so demanding that I have to constantly struggle with it. Between deadlines, milestones and the desire for outside confirmation that I'm good at what I do, I have always been anxious about something. (Being the fat kid at school didn't help.) Yet I've saved my tears for things that really matter, and assaulted the factors one at a time, until now, when I can go through an entire day without worrying about things.

I am twenty-one years old, and I have achieved perfection.

(Unfortunately, it's kind of boring.)

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