23 January 2016

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

There's a metaphor here. The fish is trapped and frozen. Remember that. Frozen.
Exmouth Market, London, 23rd January, 2016
A good friend turned 42 today. I, like I'm sure an awful lot of other people, made the obligatory Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference in my birthday greetings to him. I can be comfortably sure that such references were widespread for him today because I myself received similar greetings last year, The Very Understanding Girlfriend even gave me a special copy of Life, The Universe and Everything.

Unfortunately I took this all to heart, saying to myself, "You know, Unkie Dave," for such is how I refer to myself when internally dialoguing, "Maybe that is the goal you should set yourself. Maybe, by the time you turn 43 you should have used this year to figure out, well, life, the universe and everything. You should know who you are and what you are doing on this good, green earth. No pressure now, you've got a whole year to do it".

Fast forward twelve months or so, pause for the great reveal, pause a bit longer, a bit longer, maybe go out and get some more popcorn, use the facilities, check your email, check-in on Foursquare, pause a bit more, and, well, I've got nothing. Nada. Zip.

That's not exactly true. I have learned that, after spending a year thinking that I should figure my life out, I'm not very good at figuring my life out.

This problem boils down to something akin to the standard paradox of choice stuff, but rather than being paralysed by the overwhelming array of choices on offer into a state of permanent inaction, I think that the fact that we (by and large) can choose what we do with our lives tends to leave us in a more unhappy situation with our lives, as we believe that since we have choices then things could always be better than they actually are, and that it's out fault that things aren't better. It both creates dissatisfaction with the current status because of a hypothetical 'other', and lowers your sense of self-worth because your choices have led not to that hypothetical 'other', but to the very real 'actual'.

Consumer-driven capitalism then tells you to plug that dissatisfaction gap with material goods and work longer and harder to pay for them, and when that fails to fulfil you it's obviously your fault as you chose to buy the wrong thing and now you've wasted your money earned while slaving away in a job you hate, and the cycle begins again.

Yay for Capitalism!

But I digress. The point here is that after forty-three years on this Earth I am starting to suspect that I may never have a grand plan, and maybe that's ok. Maybe, instead of trying to figure out what I'm going to do with My Life(TM), I should instead try and figure out what I'm going to do to make myself happier about the shorter term. Not in a bacchanalian/Hedonismbot sort of way, more in the "Nah, actually I'm grand" sort of way when the Jedi Knight tells me I want to go home and rethink my life. Happier about where I am right now, and how I got here.

The trick here is to let go of the Past Regretful (my personal favourite tense, examples of daily usage include: I wish I hadn't done that; You say I shouldn't have done that; We didn't just have a two hour argument about doing that, did we?), in an attempt to create a more optimistic view of the future by jettisoning unhelpful negative feelings about historical decisions and their outcomes.

I'm pretty sure there's a song about that, possibly with snowmen? Or was it Ice Cube? I want to say Adele Dazeem, maybe?

Anyway, my advise to birthday folks, don't make themed resolutions. They suck.

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