Meandering Thoughts on the Eve of My 21st Birthday

I turn 21 tomorrow (today, as of the actual publishing of this post). This post could have been profound, meaningful, or at the very least relevant. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be: a brief tour of the thoughts meandering about my head on this Monday evening.

Sitting in the library of my college, there’s a girl behind me speaking an Eastern European(?) language. She’s being a little loud for the likes of the woman seated across from her, but she takes no notice. And the woman doesn’t do anything more than scowl over at her. 

What does it feel like to be 21? Our society says that’s when we’re legally adults. We can be tried as adults when we turn 18, but at 21 we’re trusted to “drink responsibly” in public places. Funny, our system of rites of passage. We can drive a metal death machine at age 16, but can’t be trusted to make national political choices for another two years. We also have to wait this long before we’re able to decide whether or not that “Edward + Bella 4EVER” tattoo will stay looking good on our lower back for the rest of our lives. At 18, we can apply for an apartment lease, or to be exotic dancers, or buy cigarettes. We can even decide to tie the knot without our parents’ consent.

And then we can’t take so much as a sip of social ethanol until three more years after that. It’s really no sensible system at all.

In some cultures, we’re adults when we’re 13 or when we hit puberty – when our voices and bodies change. For girls, when we start to bleed. In this grand old culture of the U.S. of A., all we have are arbitrary distinctions. One day, you can be sent to juvie. The next day, you can be condemned to death by a jury of your peers. What a mess.

In Taiwan, where my family is from, and in many other countries, there virtually is no drinking age restriction. It may be different from social group to social group, but in public restaurants and properties, no one really gives much mind to how old you are when you drink. And is it a surprise that alcoholism here and in such countries is lower than that of the United States? When will we as a society learn that forced prohibition never sustainably works?

The girl’s quiet now. I feel self-conscious typing so loudly now.

I have nothing planned for this momentous birthday. I hear that all birthdays after this one aren’t even worth celebrating (or lamenting). Maybe the decade birthdays. How depressing. Soon, I’ll be able to go into those places with the NO MINORS signs. “Haha,” I’ll think, grinning from ear to ear, “I am no longer a minor in this society. Fiddle dee dee.”

Whoop di doo?

Seriously, when will the actual feeling of adulthood start creeping into my head? As far as I know, I’m still a kid. I’m still a wandering pup in a big wide world still looking for a warm belly when I can. Just because the invisible law of this country deems me to be an “adult,” doesn’t mean I am one. It doesn’t mean I’ll ever really feel like one.  Society’ll do all it can to pile on bills, taxes, 8-to-5 jobs, and other “adult responsibilities” to trick me into thinking I’m one. Who in our culture is truly mature? I feel like we’re all domesticated puppy dogs – a culture of unrealized wolves. It’s all a farce.

It is just way too quiet now. What is this, a library or something?

Can someone help me contain my excitement?

But look at this, I’m being such a bore, such a yumm yucker. I know I’ll have enjoy myself – if not on my birthday, then later on in life. Christ, I’ve already had a great deal of fun. There’s nothing to complain about (without getting existentially angsty). Being 21 and beyond is going to be pretty all right. Also, the quiet life sounds nice, but even moderation needs to be taken into moderation. The party-hardy and rave scene will never by my regular diet, but it sure sounds like fun to try out here and there like Grandma’s super fatty, ultra salty, so damn bad yet so damn good home cooking. We can be in danger of having too much ice cream, but we can also be in danger of having too much broccoli as well.

Here is where I sigh a sigh of resignation and acceptance. Adulthood’s going to have to be taken just like everything else. One step at a time. And what the heck do I know? I’m still a baby. I still got time to be proven right (but hopefully oh, so wrong. Hopefully.) And I’m going to put this one last thing out there, that no matter how introverted anyone is, they should soak their big toe out in the waves just once [in a while] at the very least. Really, we only live once, as the kids say. And that’s all I my wandering mind has to say about that.

So Happy Birthday, Sigmund Freud, George Clooney, and Maximilien Robespierre. May 6th is going to be a lovely day. Even if it didn’t work out so well for the Hindenburg.

Oh, she’s started talking on the phone again. I don’t feel so bad anymore.

I may have posted this before, but it’s a video worth watching at least twice.

Do you remember turning 21? And if you aren’t yet there, what are your feelings on looming “adulthood?”

Advertisements

The Purge, or How I Stopped Murdering and Loved Civilization [Warning: Caps Lock Abuse Ahead]

Hi folks, it’s been a while. Let’s watch this trailer together:

[I’ll give you a moment to let that soak in, think about it, take a bathroom break…]

Back? All settled in with your tea/soda/lager/drink-of-choice? Good. Let’s begin.

JESUS W. CHRIST. IF I HEAR ANOTHER WORD ABOUT HOW TERRIBLE HUMANITY IS, I’M GOING TO- I’M GOING TO- sit at my computer and tell the handful of you who read this blog how wrong it is.

Truly though, it is annoying seeing depictions and hearing accounts of how ugly and evil human nature is. AND DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME IT’S TRUE. (Not until after I’ve stated my case, of course. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments all you like.) The mere concept of “evil” is ridiculous. It’s man-made. There is no such thing as “good” and “evil.” These are concepts people long, long, long, long ago came up with to try to make sense of things that happen, to try to justify further actions. And at the most general, these concepts do help. However, it’s like trying to reinvent the wheel – in this case, the wheel is natural selection.

Natural selection, most simply, is this: whatever works continues.

If people had a natural instinct to just kill each other off, we never would have survived this far. If people had a natural instinct to avoid other people at all costs, to never share food, to go on a murderous rampage everyday, homo sapiens would have become extinct eons ago. We wouldn’t have stood a chance against natural selection.

Which is why portrayals of humanity as bloodthirsty, solely selfish, xenophobic morons grind my rustily churning cogs and gears. And this pessimistic view has existed for a long time. You can look back to Hobbes and the overused “nasty, brutish, and short” idea of our ancestors and even Rousseau, who got it less wrong than Hobbes, but still fell for the view of original man as a loner. WE ARE NOT LONERS. WE ARE SUPER SOCIAL ANIMALS. Everyday is a party for homo sapiens. Even introverts like me need people. We might not want to be around people 24/7, but we need community and a healthy support system just like everyone else.

But it’s the quiet ones you gotta look out for. Do you know why the “quiet ones” crack and do terrible things such as shoot up schools and theaters? Because they are ALONE. In our individualistic, capitalist society, we are all alone. They don’t blow places and people up because it’s in their inner nature to do so; they do it because that is what our society molded them to be. If you have fallen under the impression that humanity is shit because of the existence of suicide bombers, school shooters, and terrorists, it is because you do not realize that THESE ARE THE EXCEPTIONS, NOT THE NORM. The reason why violence is so sensational is because it ISN’T NORMAL. For every person who bombs a marathon, hundreds of people rush in to aid the victims.

Why? Is it because we’re monsters, who would happily kill others if given the chance? HELLS TO THE NO.

It’s because we are social, compassionate animals, who – like all other generally successful animals – want to keep our species alive, even if we are not conscious of it. Sometimes this is hard to see. Sometimes it is hard to sift through the bullshit that the media and the powers-that-be play before our eyes and shove down our throats. They want you to think that without corporations and stricter government, we’d all be evil animals that would turn on one another in a heart beat. [The only thing preventing people from killing and stealing are laws, of course!] They want you to forget that it’s because they control the food supply, the security, and the wealth that we sometimes resort to acts of desperation to be released from our suffocation. It is hard to see what humans are like in nature because we have fought so hard to be distinct from nature. The narrative we are fed is the one where humans are not at the top of the food chain, but that we are transcendent of it (or some such nonsense). This is where the conflict and dissonance arise from.

We are animals. We are not murderous. We are not evil. We are simply animals. And all we want is to continue living, satisfied and fulfilled.

In summation, at the time of my writing this, the movie The Purge hasn’t been released, so I haven’t seen it. Maybe the message of the movie really is that humanity isn’t so bad. Who knows? I don’t know, but if you see the movie I’d actually like to hear what you think of it. The trailer just triggered that whole response up there, but we all know that trailers can be terribly misleading. Thank you for reading this far and I promise I will return to the lighter stressful college stuff soon.

Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear what you think, even if you disagree – especially if you disagree – because I really want to explore this issue in depth. 

In related thingymajigs: