“We shared moments as if interactions with people were rare and out of the ordinary.”
This film reminded me of empathetic faces, of questions asked and moments forgotten. It stirred something in me I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Maybe it moved me to want to take a chance and find something I lost or let go and pick up the fallen pieces. Maybe it made me want to be more vulnerable, or at least a little softer, tell a difficult truth, or ask the hard questions.
Or maybe just eat a really good piece of fresh fruit.
We are the wanderers.
(Photo via likeneelyohara)
Fitzgerald narrated and named the Jazz Age, a time where 20-somethings were opulence obsessed, relying on affluence for self-definition, filling the vast unknown with pleasurable things, and seemingly dismissive of meaning and morality. Similarly, Hemingway was said to be the voice of the Lost Generation, an age where the majority of the would-be adults were emotionally and physically displaced and directionless due to the fallout of WWII. And Kerouac memorably captured the Beat Generation, who served as a antithesis to Gatsby-ites, shunning wealth and materialism in favor of creative pursuits and life’s most ephemeral ,and often illegal, indulgences.
You and I, we are creating a narrative that is dictating the world’s and ultimately history’s image of who we are not only as individuals, but as a people, and as a generation. The newspapers, with their headlines and stark representations of facts and figures, cannot capture our essence. Celebrities are far removed from it; their wealth and extreme visibility force them onto the outskirts of our reality, as merely another outpost of the media, a part of the structure, far removed from everyday truths. Our grandparents, and even our parents and our superiors, the CEOs and VPs, can observe and analyze, but they will never understand. They are all outsiders.
The media can observe us. The politicians can attempt to restrict us. But ultimately, only we understand who we are, what is moving us, making us, and stopping us. It is our self-awareness that counts.
They try to pigeonhole us in to their Y2K, and X, Y, Z’s but we are more than a combination of consonants. And while technology is a integral part of our lives, it is not defining us. There is a larger context, a group consciousness that has descended upon us, independent even of technology.
I think the word is restless. Or maybe wandering. The twenty-somethings I meet and know seemed to be filled with it, a lingering listlessness that cannot be squelched and seems to grow even when filled with the things we’re supposed to want. Careers, cars, homes and families: these expectations seem to loom perplexingly, and often condescendingly, on the horizon.
We want to reach for them but are filled with questions we cannot name, let alone answer. The need to progress towards the goals our parents once dreamed up is offset by a vast and endless slew of competing desires that they could never comprehend. We are more dualistic than ever, desiring quaint conventions and values and simultaneously cursing them; harboring nostalgia for the old set amidst a constant backdrop of craving for the new, an insatiable and nagging thirst for constant innovation. We are clinging to the simplicity of the past all while spurning tradition in favor of independence, novelty and uncharted territory. In short, we are admittedly conflicted.
But is this “doublethink” (a term coined by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four) to the detriment to our souls? Are we doomed to be a conflicted generation, unable to create any meaningful change because we are suspended between constantly competing ideals, being pulled in two vastly different directions?
A symptom of this truth is manifested in the overwhelming amount of 20-somethings who are in search of a career, holding meaningless jobs while seeking their next step, a new direction. Some may point to the sluggish economic state as an explanation, or look to unemployment rates. But look around, we are an educated epoch. Almost everyone I know holds a college degree and conversely, many have yet to put it to use, or are unsatisfied with they way they are. We’re supposed to be chasing stability by means of a lucrative career. We were told we could be astronauts or presidents, anything our minds could imagine. But maybe it’s the mere process of choosing holding us back, our endless potential, that has literally left us paralyzed by our own possibilities.
I have the ability and education to pursue a successful 9-5 career, and have once walked down that path with that goal within reach. But when presented with it, I felt no sense of satisfaction, only an urge to run and a feeling of great sacrifice.
Maybe, in this age of information, we cannot expect to be settled down, in any way, within the same timeline our parents did, or on the same terms. They filled us with promises of possibilities, a vision enabled by technology, which has given us a way to easily navigate those possibilities. So, how can we expect to be satisfied with an early onset of stability without feeling stifled? We were not bred to accept easy answers.
This is not to say wholly giving into listlessness and wandering can be mistaken for progress. Spending our days consumed by an adolescent pleasure-seeking mentality, solely focused only on our love lives and social obligations, is an avoidant disservice to our inquisitive natures and capable curiosities. We can not be overtaken by indecision or stunted by our fears, specifically fears of the unknown. We must face them, channel them, and overcome them.
Possibility can be frightening, but it can also be empowering. If we take our time to assess who we really are, and identify what truly moves us, we will create things our parents could have never imagined, because they allowed themselves to be confined by the fast track, and restricted by retrospective ideals. They did not give themselves the time to truly consider that there might be a different route to happiness and satisfaction, and that a new way might be a better way.
But we are taking that time. The only thing we are not doing is embracing it. If you find yourself tucked within a conundrum, treading water in the center of uncertainty, the worst thing you can do is mislabel it in a negative way, or shrink away from it in fear. We cannot be governed by our parents time-lines, because we are not our parents. Our world is not the same place, so how can we expect to be the same people? If we fail to adapt, the world will suck us into its vortex and we will fall helplessly under its control, bound by mindless routine and the slow creep of dissatisfaction.
I look around and I see a world that needs a change. And honestly, I am not sure of how I am going to contribute to that change just yet, but I know I will. I know WE will. But we don’t need to rush. There are the makings of metamorphoses, the rumblings of something new and beautiful on the horizon, and we are marching toward it with unprecedented self-awareness.
We have seen our parents marriages fail. We have watched as they sacrificed sweeping aspirations and traded them in for unsatisfying substitutes. We are cautious but bold. We will learn from their mistakes but not hold back in fear of them. We may take a little extra time, but we will see our hopes burst open and brightly unfold before us. And it will make us better husbands and wives, and better parents, but most essentially, better people.
We have no need to be reactionary. We are not competing with the legacies or defying the curses of generations past. We need just be fully realized, and the rest will work itself out.
Outsiders may perceive us to be directionless, but our nomadic nature was aroused by a spirt of adventure, and we are cultivating comfort with living within life’s uncertainties only because we know that is where meaning lies. Is treasure really treasure if it is not buried? We think not. It is that exploratory urge that differentiates us, the lack of satisfaction with someone else’s truth that birthed a need to find our own truth, however difficult the process or circuitous the path. It is that loyalty to our own authenticity that is breeding a generation of true individuals who refuse to take the express route into the future, and instead insist on stopping along the way, because it is the stops that are creating us, one detour at a time.
So while our wandering may be taking us off the path our parents have dutifully treaded, it is also taking us into territories uncharted and parts of ourselves unrealized. And the world will undoubtedly be changed because of our efforts, and even our mistakes.>
She said it was all make-belief, but I thought you said maple leaves.
And when she talked about the fall, I thought she talked about the season.
I never understood at all.
(photo by Matías Troncoso)
“Sexuality is primarily a means of communicating with other people, a way of talking to them, of expressing our feelings about ourselves and them. It is essentially a language, a body language, in which one can express gentleness and affection, anger and resentment, superiority and dependence far more succinctly than would be possible verbally, where expressions are unavoidably abstract and often clumsy.”
-Robert C. Solomon (b. 1942), U.S. philosopher, educator.
Overheard in the bookstore.
There is a little girl sitting at a small red table, reading. She is wearing pink track pants with a white stripe running down the side and shiny purple coat with a matted fur collar. Her parents are sitting at a larger red table right across from her. The father is eating a pannini with a magazine in front of him and the mother is reading.
Little Girl: [Loudly] Dad, you have something in your teeth!
Dad looks embarassed and reaches for the nearest napkin.
Mom: Stop talking so loud! Everyone can hear you!
Little Girl: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to, okay? …I love you.
Mom is silent, having returned to her book.
Little Girl: [Even Louder] I said I love you!
Again, Mom does not respond.
Little Girl: [Defeatedly] Okay, I guess I’ll stop.
I immediately felt this exchange was meaningful but I couldn’t pin down why. I’m still trying to figure out the inherent lesson.
Maybe the futility of persistence?
Help me figure this out.>
It’s a luscious mix of words and tricks that make us bet
…when we know we should fold.
The Shins, “Caring is Creepy”
On being without words.
I’ve been meaning to write about moving here, to this city. It’s been two months now and I’ve been avoiding it not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I have too much to say. Kind of like how when I like someone I will purposely avoid calling them for fear I may start talking and never stop. It’s happened before, it’s not pretty.>
A small revelation.
Cynics equate failed love affairs and the pain of love’s loss to it’s non-existence, to its essential lack of meaning. They use it to explain away love’s magic, or to argue why love is not worth the risk. But I think the hurt we experience due to love, how it can leave us blindsided and crestfallen, its unique ability to shake up our worlds, only points to the fact of its weight, to its realness and its very existence.
(Photo via butigaveyouall)>
Things that defy the law of diminishing returns:
1. Oreo cookie consumption.
(satisfaction increases with each cookie, indefinitely.)
2. Charming gentlemen.
(a disarming smile is never at risk of overexposure or ineffectiveness.)>