I made a status change on Facebook and had a flood of sudden responses, mostly leading to the path that suggested I need a new laptop. I asked why my bastard friends would encourage me like that, and Tyler said, "The J-Pizzie lifestyle gives us all a goal to work for." He unknowingly set off a rash of interesting thought. (At least, it was interesting to me.)
The first thing that comment triggered was the realization that my search for an ideal set of conditions under which I'd like to live my life are far too undefined to truly act on. I don't know what the "J-Pizzie lifestyle" is supposed to be exactly. But more on that in a moment.
I once had a conversation with Kara where I stated that I consider her an equal in many ways. She thought I was largely full of shit because I have a decade on her, I've accomplished "stuff" and whatever. While that may be true, experience is often a blessing and a curse. While Kara's lack of life experience may cause her to make uninformed decisions, my excess experience can constrain my decisions. Isn't it funny how that works? You can end up in an undesirable condition either way.
I think this is one of the reasons I try to surround myself with younger people, whether it be the Tyler's and Kara's of the world, or teenage volleyball kids. Sure, there are just as many idiot young people as there are idiot old people, but for the most part the youngins' are less inhibited and see things in a much broader perspective. Sure, there are some 20-somethings who are already totally set in their ways and have a rigid view of the world, but I think most have a great deal to contribute. That's why I hate when people are so quick to write-off younger generations. Listen, and you might learn something from them. It's hard to un-color your perspective, but younger people can help.
Am I even old enough to refer to "younger people?" Rhetorical question... let's move on.
Back to that epiphany of sorts. I'm still a good decade away from the scheduled mid-life crisis, but I honestly feel like I'm having it now. Fortunately I'm too much of a tree-hugger to buy a Porsche. But I realize that much of my angst toward the system in place that I'm a part of, the system that you have to participate in to sustain yourself in the world, is rooted in the fact that I don't have even a vague definition of what I want my role to be.
This is another place where the younger perspective helps. Despite the relative uninhibited view of the world, you also start out having some rigid definition of how your life is supposed to go, an obvious domestication artifact left to us by our parents. We have to fail at some things, or see uncontrollable change, before we can loosen that up. For me it was the realization that the broadcast industry, and radio in particular, was a crappy business with little opportunity, and soul-sucking properties despite it being otherwise rewarding. Thank God for the Internet coming along, or I'd be totally lost.
I can see how Kara's and Tyler's views have evolved a bit since they graduated from college, and I think both have transitioned into that more fluid value system that allows them to adapt and still find a happy balance in life. It took me years to do that, probably around age 26. After that breakthrough though, I've seemingly gone the other way.
Nine years later, I've seen the personal side of my life fall apart, and then come back together. I've been in and out of jobs like a revolving door, mostly involuntarily. I think all of that chaos, I've nearly lost my way. I went from rigid life expectations, to fluid, to undefined. I don't have the slightest idea what I'm doing right now in most areas outside of my relationship life.
So Ty's comment, in a nutshell, has caused me to realize that in my quest to figure out my life, I haven't been framing the questions in a way that will help me find answers. The fundamental start has to come by way of defining what I want my lifestyle to be like. The "who" is a problem solved, thank God, so that leaves the other questions in search of answers.