It’s snowing today, “chucking down,” as Matt would say, and the roads are slick and drifty. I just got back from a trip to the co-op for last minute supplies for tonight’s locals-only 15th-Night Party. Normally I’d have thrown a party on the 12th Night of Christmas and invited the world, but this year I was down in Boston on Jan 5th, and Elizabeth was already throwing a party in Boston tonight. Kate and I decided to throw a looser, smaller, end-of-the-holidays version of the party. (There may be one or two out-of-town guests, and there’ll definitely be Smoking Bishop.) We’ll resume the usual stylings next year, never fear.
More after the jump.
2 moments in recent days I wanted to jot down before I papered over them entirely.
The first was a moment of near-paralysing, existenstial … weltschmerz, really. I had a vision of the world and all of us in it as a giant anthill, and nothing we did, said, acted, or accomplished mattered at all. Nothing on Jupiter will ever take notice of who we elect president, nothing a hundred miles under the Sun’s surface will know whether I told a lie in middle school. We’re moving the mineral deposits and plant material around on the surface of the globe like construction toys on display in a store, all of us faintly worn out, and none of it matters a jot or tittle. We live, we die, we perpetuate the cycle, but there’s no real progress in any grand sense, and the smartest of us and the cruelest of us would be indistinguishable from 100 feet overhead.
This passed, thankfully, but I’ve still got it in the back of my mind, a little voice whispering that any significance we put on anything at all is our own doing, is arbitrary, could just as easily be the opposite. It’s not saying that we should stop, mind you – it’s just saying that there’s no such thing as “meaning.”
The other moment has been recurring over the last several years, and happened most recently on the drive home from the store, listening to “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and howling at a series of very clever jokes about Catherine the Great. This moment, unlike the first, comforts and scares me both. I feel like I’m on top of my game, right now.
I’m driving my own nimble car with my own snow tires, and I feel safe and experienced on the road. I get the jokes on the radio, I have a job I’m good at, I make enough money that I can buy myself salmon and avocado sushi at the store to bring home for lunch. I have the free time and brain cells to burn on chemicals, trashy books, and the occasional evening spent watching TV. I teach my family about technology, I (mostly) remember peoples’ birthdays, and I throw parties. I feel good, I feel adult, I feel competent. I look at kids in high school and can easily remember what it felt like to be there, and I look at pictures of my parents at my age, look at my parents today, look at my grandmother, and think, maybe, I can imagine myself in 30 years, in 50 years. Sometime down the road, this feeling must go away – my grandmother, certainly, doesn’t feel like she’s at the top of her game now, and my mother tells me that in certain ways she certainly feels like she’s past her most able – and I have just enough kid still in me to find the prospect of fading terrifying.
The adult in me, though, takes it a little more calmly. There’s nothing to be done to prevent it. Looking at the adults around me who move gracefully with their years (the Nodas down the road being shining, sterling examples of this) I think, maybe, I can learn something. And maybe, some day, when the technologies I’m so proud of my ability to navigate seem as outdated as wax cylinders, I’ll be able to accept that calmly, too.
It’s odd, though, remembering being a kid, and then looking at peers with kids and imagining being parents. Like we’re poised right at the midpoint between these two times.
And if it doesn’t mean anything, well, what of it. We’re here with each other now, and if (as seems likely) in a hundred years all the people I know and love are as forgotten as unobserved sand dunes in the middle of the Sahara… my sushi was excellent, today, and my bones strong and my cat an annoying pain in the ass in the middle of the night. I’m not sure what more to ask for than this.