I used to think that civilian life was overrated. And by civilian life I mean the kind of life that makes you a productive, law-abiding citizen in your given area of the world; produce, fuel the greater machine, live responsibly, make babies, take care of those babies, provide, love your wife, buy a house, etc.
I thought all of that was overrated because I was pretty damn sure I had some greater adventures to tackle. These adventures didn't involve financing a mini-van or picking up dog crap from a neatly manicured lawn. These adventures didn't involve getting upset over the neighbor's loud music. And these adventures didn't involve getting angry at kids dropping their trash on my sidewalk as they go to and from school.
The adventures I had in mind involved something a little more significant, a little more eternal, a little more worth losing sleep over.
I'm starting to think that mere civilian life is overrated again.
I have a theory that we're all going to find something to stress about at any given moment of our lives and this is because there exists a preset optimal stress level that is necessary for human functioning. Stress helps drive us, it means we think that what we're doing is important, which makes us think that our lives in of themselves are, for the most part, important and purposeful.
To take this a bit further, I theorize that people's stress thresholds are set and calibrated based on the hopes, dreams and expectations they have of themselves and their lives. For example, if you believe that your purpose in life involves conquering the world then a little pile of dog shit won't phase you, but if you find your purpose in life inextricably attached to the appearance and lush greenness of your lawn then that dog's going to irk you to your core; stress goes up and the shovel, or shotgun, come out.
I used to not be phased by petty things in life and felt bad for people who got really pissed off when they were cut off on the freeway. I thought it was sad to see their physical health and liveliness being threatened by such seemingly insignificant things like traffic and red lights. I used to be different than the masses. I took pride in stressing over bigger things.
I'm starting to think that getting upset by civilian things is overrated again.
(Side note: Pride is not good, and I was arrogant in thinking that my worries and woes were better than Joe Shmoe's, but please forgive this part of my ramble and stay focused on the stress/expectation/hopes/dreams aspect of this writing. Thank you.)
What's changed recently is that instead of feeling "other" from the average civilian, I feel quite like one of them. You could say I've temporarily joined the rats in their all-consuming race towards...where are we going again? Oh yeah, COSTCO.
I now relate quite well with my neighbors. We can share our grievances about life on our street. We can recommend certain brands of lawn fertilizer to one another and we can pet each other's dogs. We're these weird kind of strangers camping out next to each other, sometimes for years, sometimes for lifetimes.
In my new-found relating to the masses I fear I've lost something. I don't know what it is, but I know that I miss it. I miss that something that used to make me look beyond the superficial worries of civilian life.
I miss being fixated on the beyond, the Neverland, the ever-out-there-after-here-could-be-now. I miss the way it made me act and I miss the way it made me stress about big and significant things. I miss the way it overshadowed the petty things. I miss getting pissed off over things that are actually worth being pissed off about.
I think that old people get upset about stupid little things because those stupid little things are all that they still have to fret over in this world. However, young people like myself are a lot like old people in their worrying, which is jacked up and whacked out. We obsess over what's for dinner sometimes just like old women. What the crap are we living for! These worries can't be all that's maxing out our stress capacity. Now I don't believe that old people should stop chasing their dreams, but naturally we can have more grace for their "petty" worries because their being old prevents a lot of dream-chasing from happening. If their idea of achievement involves finishing a crossword puzzle you wouldn't guilt them for it because we understand that they've already lived their lives, fought wars, survived a great depression, raised families, and survived a hell of a lot more years than us. But if you're young and you worry about civilian stuff more than you do about chasing down your dreams, then shame on you. Shame on me. Shame on us.
Let's stop thinking about what's for dinner, stop losing sleep over traffic violations, wipe the dog crap off our shoes and start a revolution or something. Any takers?