Pursuing something more than nostalgia


 

Consider this a short, brash manifesto:

I don’t want to live a life in which indulging in nostalgia — by myself, or with friends — is an important activity.

By this, I mean: I will strive to make every phase of my life as engaging, positive, and memorable as the last, so that at no point do I find myself looking back and wishing I still had the same opportunities or experiences as I once did.

If I attend high school or college reunions, it will not be for the purpose of reminiscing about the “good old days” but for sharing stories of what my peers have made of life since our last encounter, and discussing exciting new possibilities for the future.

If I keep in touch with old friends it will not be because I want to cling to shared histories, nor because I’m having difficulty finding new friends, but instead because spending time with those I know and love most is itself a powerful life experience in its own right, and because these are the people who can best gauge my own self-development.

If I choose to make a family and have children, it will not be because I’m bowing to a cultural obligation to procreate, nor because I fear the oblivion of death enough to place my genes and traditions into a new person in a desperate bid for immortality, but because I’ve decided that creating and raising a sovereign and independent human being is a profoundly worthwhile and fulfilling activity in its own right, above and beyond other experiences I could have, and other things I could make.

I don’t mean to say I refuse to look back fondly on the past. I want to have memories and experiences spread throughout my life that I’m thankful for and proud of.

Nor do I mean to say that I’ll consider myself a failure if I don’t live a life full of increasingly extravagant adventures. There is value in a focused, productive, disciplined life; mastery is itself rewarding, as is seeing the fruits of intense labor become manifest (whether in art, science, entrepreneurship, or some other craft), and this is something that a shallow, indulgent life cannot provide.

What I mean to say is that I am committing myself to learning, growing, and doing – at every stage of life.

I want to be active in discovering new activities and making new friends when I am 80 years old, still being physically capable, socially apt, and full of wisdom, stories, and charm. When disease or old age finally slow me down for good, I want to have the grace to accept the inevitable, and at that point only — be able to look back with a sincere smile on the full life I’ve led.

My life in video form

First, my office.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgV40CnN0D0

Then, there was a mouse in my apartment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umOBOPS_jJ8

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neuro-transmitters

Several major themes of my life over the past few months center on addiction. I successfully (so far) have quit a gaming addiction; I’ve grappled with an underlying Internet addiction that I wasn’t even fully aware of until recently, and I just had a brief unintentional bout with coffee addiction. There’s a major blogpost coming up that tackles these things in a comprehensive way, but as an appetizer: I watched this video today, and felt I needed to share it.

 

A Matter of Convenience

It takes some time for me to realize how thoroughly a product or service has permeated my life and altered my behaviors.  I was recently mailed a $40 prepaid Visa card as a rebate.  After activating the card, I immediately went to the computer and transferred the value to a $40 Amazon gift card for myself.

Why?  I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of remembering the exact balance left on the card and adjusting my purchases to compensate in the case that a vendor couldn’t charge an arbitrary amount to the card.  Most businesses will tell you that a card has been declined without being able to tell you specific reasons why, and it’s also inconvenient to spend the last couple dollars on the card.  This isn’t a novel tactic by any means (I’m sure many other people handle prepaid cards like this as well).  I buy enough things on Amazon that this plan made sense (here is an old blog post about Amazon Prime written back when I was captivated by the novelty of free two-day shipping).  Somewhat relatedly, there are those who wonder whether customers like me can justify seemingly irrational stock price behavior.

I had to pause and ponder what I was doing.  I wasn’t reasoning about it explicitly until that point, but my actions implied that I view Amazon store credit as more liquid than a cash card accepted at every place that I purchase from, including Amazon!

Of course, there exists some balance above which I would prefer a cash card, but I still find the above conclusion a bit surprising and indicative of Amazon’s pervasive influence on my shopping behavior.

 

As an aside, the rebate was for a $35 purchase.  I love it when the system works!

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