Sunday, February 13, 2005

Yep, it’s my fuckin’ birthday. Well, it was on the 12th. At least some people remembered this year. I am so tired of this gift-giving thing. Once a year I can handle, but I feel like they’re trying to stretch it out so you feel compelled to buy stuff all year long. Yes I know that seems like a “duhhh” type of a thing to say, that’s what ad agencies are for after all, to convince people that they need stuff that they really don’t. But I’m willing to suspsend my misanthropy and cynicism for the month of December, and while I’m certainly not one ever to be “filled with xmas cheer,” I can appreciate the smiles on others’ faces when you give them something they want, even if they may not have realized they wanted it.

The problem I’m having is that there are a finite number of gifts that are really worth giving to any particular person. I mean, after 7+ years, what am I supposed to get someone? What are they supposed to get me? I’m certainly not complaining about my present this year and I don’t want certain people to misconstrue this as such . But over the course of the year we have Birthday, Valentine’s Day, Anniversary, Mother’s/Father’s day, Christmas. That’s potentially 5 different occasions for a particular person every year. That’s a lot of presents, especially when the person in question either doesn’t want anything, or only wants things that are either immaterial (world peace type shit) or wants stuff that’s so insanely expensive that it’s just not realistic (a new car, jetski, whatever). [Did the previous sentence contain a comma splice?]

I do a lot of thinking these days, about various things. I used to be the kind of person who got really worked up in debates and fought valiantly to prove my side of the argument. I’m the guy who, when debating points with a conservative, will come across as a left wing nutcase; but when debating with a liberal will come across as a fascist. Like many (or maybe not?) I don’t fit neatly into any real box. I have some “liberal” positions and I have some “conservative” positions. It’s probably best if I don’t state any of them here. But lately when I see people debating a point on which I have a well-defined position I find myself playing the role of the quiet observer. Sadly this has come about because I just feel like debating itself is an exercise in futility. In all the history of mankind, I wonder how many debates have ever really changed anybody’s minds. Among the things I’ve picked up about people over the years is that they like to be right — I don’t know too many people who like being wrong on a regular basis. The basic point of a debate is to convince the other party that their position is wrong, or misguided, or whatever euphemism you prefer. The topics that frequently come up for debate are those about which most people already have well-formed opinions that they may have held since childhood. So you have people arguing either side of an issue, and both of them feel that they are absolutely right and the other person is absolutely wrong, and in reality neither side will ever be swayed no matter how much debate takes place.

This all really has nothing to do with anything but I think it illustrates my cynicism pretty well. I realize that the point of a debate between two parties on a given issue is frequently to sway the opinions of those who haven’t already formed them, and if it was an “honest” debate I’d say that would be a worthy exercise in and of itself. But the old cynicism kicks in and you realize that people are just underhanded and feed the masses all sorts of disinformation… I’m reminded of the three types of lies: “A lie, a damn lie, and a statistic.” (The first time I heard that phrase was from my 8th grade math teacher, Mr. Collum).

I’ve probably said too much already. The older I get the dumber I feel. Or maybe I feel just as smart but just so much more powerless. I really used to feel I could take on the world. Now I just feel like the world isn’t worth my time. But man, I felt like a smart motherfucker when I was 18.

I leave you with the quote I used in my high school yearbook photo:

I got the key to the highway, billed out and bound to go. I’m gonna leave here runnin’, walkin is most’ too slow.

God I loved that song.

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