One of my old friends is doing something humane in Africa. I'm not entirely sure what, but it sounds cool, progressive, and not quite as actively destructive to the world as, say, my daily purchase of coffee from Starbucks.
It got me thinking about options. I try to avoid thinking about options, because being fairly good at a fair number of things paralyzes me when facing big decisions. To cope, I do the bare minimum of bread-winning I need to survive, while I try to focus on and finish the actual things I like to do, and never worry about what I will actually end up "being" at a future date. But the future has crept back up the back of my angst once again, since I now have a respectable job, and Failure is temporarily not one of my concerns. When Failure (in the strict, male oriented, egocentric, American W.A.S.P sense) is a concern, everything is easily devoted to avoiding it; when it's not a concern, and I don't have to beg food off friends and family, I start to wonder what I'm going to do with myself.
I not worried about the world's memory of me. I don't want to be remembered by future generations; I want to sleep with future generations, well into the next millenium, if possible. I fully intend to blow billions of dollars on getting myself frozen, or downloaded into a computer, or whatever it takes to live an impossibly long, hubris-filled life.
What I wonder is what I want to spend the next seventy years doing, and what I'll think of myself when the bulk of my life is behind me. What keeps me from screaming in the night now is the thought of what's ahead of me, so, in the interests of not screaming through my last ten or so years, I best have something satisfying behind me, with which to fend off life's final slap in the face. It's fine and comforting to act as if immortal, until something demostrates otherwise. What then?
I'd like to think that in fifty years I'll think of myself as a good person. I've rattled on as much as the next person about nothing being good or evil, all is relative, Christianity is bunk, yadda yadda yadda, but fact is, I'll either be a friendless drunk with an estranged family, or telling a roomful of loved ones the same damn story for the four hundredth time, and there's a difference. Assuming wild success, I'd still like my funeral attended by people who aren't politically obligated to be there. I won't make me feel any better about being dead, but it will mean there were shoulders to cry on while I was losing my death grip on life.
I generally live by the maxim tis better to do than have done, but eventually, everything will fall into the have done category, and I want something there. Do I want to have been rich? Not so much. I'd like to be rich so I can spend all day writing things like this, but to have been rich is sort of the All American Joke, so who cares. I'd like to have helped people feel better about themselves. Preferably people who outlive me, because once I give up my bid for literal immortality, I'll be saving up metaphorical points.
In helping people feel better, I've always known I'm not cut out for actually working the soup kitchen, or joining the peace corps. My heart's not in it. Faced with a daily chore, I'd rather be helping myself. The politics of the world are so far gone, I have no faith in whatever contribution I could give to this starving village or that stricken soul. I'd like to think my writing helps people feel better, but as often as not, my writing makes people feel worse, and it's supposed to.
I try to not make things worse. I try to not be the asshole pedestrian in front of the green light. To not be the person who lets the door slam in a stranger's face, and conversely, not be the person who holds the door for someone thirty feet down the hall and makes them feel akward and rushed. I try to get out of people's way, give them the excuse they're looking for to feel however they need to feel. More than being nice or rude at the right moment, I try to make people feel that they are what they want to be. Being sure that inside your own skin, you are what you think you could be is all that most anyone needs, and in my own skin, I want to think that I am a person who never judged harshly, and calmed more doubts than I shattered egos.
Still, I want to be a rock star, a famous writer, and inventor of the gizmo that cured religion.
Whenever anyone asks me what I want, I say it's an easy question: I want everything, and I want to enjoy myself while I'm getting it. But what I actually want multiplied by what I can actually get comes out to just wanting to not have to ask the question. Because the question necessitates options, and I don't want any more options. More options just makes me remember that there are options I never have and never will choose. It reminds me that people say you shouldn't waste your life as if it were a pep talk nugget of wisdom, instead of a truth only true by virtue of the inference that life is a short trip toward an unspeakable end.
Anyway, I've been harping on death lately. I should stop.
There's no consolation for death, but at least I won't regret it.