Monday, April 19, 2010

Maturity, Despotism, Perspective

When I was young I dallied with the idea that it was better to burn out than to fade away; I fully expected some savage, fiery end with a raised finger or a heroic exit at the hands of unfathomable doom. As the man said "hope I die before I get old"; he wasn't talking about *my* generation, but it still resonated. Later in life I realized that there are many stages to existence, each with their own priorities and accomplishments; you just have to acknowledge them as such and spend your time appropriately.

Youth is for innocence and wonder, naive nobility, nightmares, insolence, and a series of remarkable, memorable firsts. 

Should you manage to live past puberty (hopefully retaining some of that magic), adolescence is for nihilism and reckless abandon, sexual and recreational experimentation, fast travel, emotionally scarring relationships, and cruel lessons. 

Should you survive adolescence, adulthood is for labor, real love, family, and maturity; a time to focus on goals, establish yourself in the world, and solidify some kind of legacy in the form of descendants, empire, or body of works.

And if you should live so long, old age is for carefully orchestrated indulgence. Old age is that point when you hope to have the money and the means to dominate your children and spoil your grandchildren, to ruin your enemies, seduce their descendants, demolish their empires, and then rail up and snort the ashes in front of them. Old age is for going to a lifelong enemy's funeral in a red dress or a dapper suit, and winking at the bereaved spouse during the service in hopes of finding the next ex mister or misses you. Old age is best spent fabulously wealthy in a very tall building, surrounded by people you love, and with a pleasantly distant but clear view of the people you've ruined.

That's how I want to go out: 120+ years old, regarded in the minds of my fellows as somewhere between a beatific old saint and a tyrannical mummified bastard, finally succumbing after a valiant effort to a lifelong case of being terminally awesome.