Grow old gracefully?

Grow old gracefully?
Not in this lifetime!
Aging by definition doesn’t inspire me with thoughts of grace.
I’ll invest in sourcing the most raucous thrash metal until I can’t rock anymore.
Or deafness…
Whichever comes first.
I’m already thinking of purchasing a ludicrously loud motorcycle to treat myself if ever I become a venerable 70-Something.
And should I happen to pass into that long night, play some Metallica at my farewell party!

These thoughts aren’t intended to portray a flippant attitude.
Not in the least.
I once attended a funeral where AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blared into the auditorium and bore testimony to one who dared to live a full life despite years of experiencing adverse health.
Nothing about those few minutes filled with power chords signalled the intent to rebel, or even dismiss the finality of that goodbye.
And I saw not a single dry eye in the house that afternoon.
Appreciation for a life who dared, against all odds… And the loss thereof affirmed with a loud and fitting eulogy!

Over time I’ve met too many older people who, in my opinion aged because they lost interest in exploring new things.
This is a question I’ve reflected on many times…
Do we lose interest in the complexity of life when we grow old, or do we subscribe to an idea that advancing age automatically comes shipped with a new “more dignified” or “toned-down” set of rules for living?

The idea of turning into a crusty old git never appealed to me.
I also dislike the idea that some older folk feel that their age allows them to be caricatures of insufferable behaviour.
That being said…
If I’m not a danger to myself or society, and I don’t embarrass myself too much then I don’t see the harm in recreating my own language for “growing old.”
Opting to use words such as “Diminished capacity” instead of “it’s done.”
“Recovery” instead of “regret” and “redefine” instead of “resign.”

Packaged Outrage

I remember watching the bottling process in a factory that manufactured bleach.
One tube fed the bleach to the branded bottle and another tube redirected bleach to some or other store’s “House brand.”
Same Bleach, different branding.
When I look at the news and the puerile regurgitated issues on Twitter I see the same thing.
We’re living in the age of bottled and packaged outrage.
It feels like all the “issues” are flowing into one homogenous tube.
Real social issues get sidelined in favour of popular gossip and banal videos that often only serve to illustrate stupidity and human failings.

Ok, so despite appeals to the better nature angels of someone’s nature a “package” gets released.
What then?
Many of these “viral outrage videos” get lost in a torrid cesspool of comments.
Generalization rules supreme—I seldom see comments that inquire instead of merely following the herd.
Make no mistake though, the herd breaks the internet, destroys lives and spawns a thousand memes…
At times creating a secondary outrage that often outshines the original.
But only until the next “Outrage package” is taken from the shelf.
Then in a flash we experience that Groundhog Day feeling again.
Honestly, I struggle to keep track of all the outrage I observe on a daily basis!

Outrage has become ubiquitous, especially in the online world.
And we appear to be struggling to comprehend which ones are cleverly engineered for maximum impact, and which ones should really warrant any attention.
Naturally there are exposes that definitely need to see the light.
And many social media campaigns have actually succeeded in bringing atrocities to light, and thereby putting an end to them.

Unfortunately its a personal desire to be relevant that fuels a lot of posts…
Have you ever noticed how the original poster’s caption has a way of swaying the adudience to veer off into a set direction.
Often a photo or video will result in creating an emotion, but because we’re lazy we latch onto the “packaged message” within the caption, instead of filtering the content through our own set of values and logical constructs.

I wonder if these outrage-mongers are ever concerned about destroying the real brand.
That “brand” which incorporates “being human” as vital ingredient.
Being human, exhibiting some logical restraint— And not merely acting upon the way the product is presented, but being truly concerned about the real implications of the content.
Instead the world often lauds the salesman who gets the most views—Turning him into a celebrity!
At the expense of real tragedy that eventually finds its way to the same shelf where sensation is diligently stored.

Perspective.

You’ve heard advice along the lines of “Don’t worry, nothing lasts forever, not even the bad times!”
We all know purveyors of popular clichés.
But they might have a point.
The Sun barely has enough hydrogen to last another 5 billion years.
It’s going downhill fast!
Let’s not ponder on the bad times then!
I think I should resign, live a life of leisure and quietly wait for the universe to end.

Undiluted words.

Words are powerful, they are the containers in which we brew our purpose and happiness.
They give us the means for expressing our fears, exorcising our demons and seducing those we wish to make love to.

I always endeavour not to dilute my writing or texting with a barrage of exclamation marks, pictures or Emojis.

Say it like it is, call it the way you see it…
And then refrain from adding a little yellow face that either misrepresents your message or removes all the impact.
I’m not a big fan of abbreviations or any form of “online shorthand” either.
If something is worth saying, I firmly believe it’s also worth a bit of effort.

Words

Firmly embedded in the small death of our daily discourse…
I often hear you.
Strangle me with whispers and ostentatious phrases.
Then observe how I love to be prodded and dissected.
Cleave through my dullness without remorse.
But remember our symbiotic stasis.
Drag me down to where I want to be.
And sometimes set me free.

The words of the prophets

“The words of the prophets are
Written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”

– “The Sound Of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel

Finding the words of any prophet is difficult these days.
So what is “Media” then?
A prophet, goddess or merely an attention-slut?
My belief is you’re still better off hunting for true wisdom in archaic forgotten ruins than on social media.
Yes, there are snippets of robust reasoning and inspirational moments on Twitter.
But they are footprints on a beach.

I struggle to fathom how “conveying sincerity” is truly possible on such a platform?
The big problem is that any form of sincerity or “truth” is in danger of immediately being diluted by opinionated floods.
A thousand disembodied voices often become more important than the original message.
Digression and off-topic remarks have become the norm.
These in turn lead to more fighting and odious responses.
Even “the good guys” who do enjoy a clean run devoid of scandal often succumb to the lure of controversy in order to garner a greater following.

Before the era of electronic feeds and content-prodding we managed to observe information and digest our own perceptions of the intended meaning at leisure.
We were exposed to news and even rumours in “slow” formats… Newspapers, TV Shows, magazines and the gravevine in a local neighbourhood.
More often than not common sense led us to separate real nuggets from fool’s gold.

I can’t say that the news back then was devoid of sensationalism and propaganda.
It’s just that these days we need to sift through the good, the bad, the ugly as well as all
the comments that are equally bad…ugly…and quite horrific!
Comments can be quite vile as little standalone representations of people’s unfiltered thoughts!

So what do we do?
Sift through comments or simply ignore them?
I don’t know about you, but I find this to be a tedious exercise these days.

I’m happier whenever I don’t spend too much time on Twitter.

In the meantime I’ll take my chances and continue seeking wisdom in offline spaces:
Libraries.
Subways.
Tenement halls.
Dusty manuscripts.
Conversations with real people.

Looking at clouds makes you happier

Yesterday I ordered Chinese takeaways.
After placing the order I made myself at home on a hard wooden bench.
Diligently waiting for order 0004.
My first instinct was to check Twitter or Instagram while waiting.
But alas… I had forgotten my mobile phone at home.

I could only opt to either watch people or the clouds above me.
I watched people for a while.
And then I looked at the majestic cumulus clouds that dominated the sky.
An elephant with three eyes and a very large trunk was in my line of sight.
When I looked away for a few minutes the eyes had already flowed into one another.
It was a windless day.
And yet the clouds changed constantly—Almost imperceptible.
How many people were watching the same clouds?
Perhaps not many, because the small screens in their hands command so much attention.
The universe moves at a leisurely pace.
The rhythm of life…The rhythm that gives life.
Rhythm is a river.
Humans wish to make the river flow faster.
But the river knows at what pace it needs to flow.
It’s only us that manages to chase a rushed life as some sort of prize.
We attempt to inject speed into our lives—Based upon the illusion it makes us more productive.
That is the cadence we sacrifice for a fast life… Without any real benefits in the end.

I felt ashamed to confess I hadn’t been that relaxed for quite some time.
Within those minutes I remembered something about earlier days.
Pre-electronic days.
Days before social media.
I remembered watching clouds and pretending to be an astronaut—blasting my way through clouds…
And eventually clearing the atmosphere.

I believe I need to look up more often.
There’s a whole universe waiting to be explored: Both in reality, but also in the imagination.
I need to look at clouds more often.
A lot has been written about limiting online-time…Literally disconnecting from the electronic world.
There was contentment within those disconnected moments—When I reconnected with my own imagination.

-April 2019