The idea for this story was triggered by a comment one of my daughters made during Christmas. She has been worried about my mental/emotional state for a long time, in fact, ever since my wife left me over twelve years ago, or about the same time I quit being a cocksure, highly driven, successful basketball coach, and started chasing a nebulous dream of being an understudy for the role of Hamlet. That is if a production of the Bard's masterpiece ever makes his way to Corcoran.
Indecision as a life style choice? I can't really recommend it, and it is no wonder why she worries. Yet, there are so many of us that vacillate our lives away that we really ought to form a club of some sort. I've developed a motto already just in case we do form the club, "You Can't Reach Bakersfield While Continuing North on Forty-Three." I just can't make up my mind if I'm serious or not.
Further reflection made me think that there were some universal issues involved in how relationships evolve over time, particularly as one side of the relationship passes into old age as the other side is entering into what should be his or her best years.
It made me think of how this issue has played out for thousands and thousands of years in very different ways but always seeming to have the same ending; the younger adults reach maturity after having shed most of the the impulsiveness of youth just as the older members of the relationship begin dining on kryptonite and regret.
I thought it made for a great short story idea. At the same time, I was also trying to include the theme of the story without explicitly mentioning the theme, you know, how the good writers do it. In this case the it was about alienation, or how the natural progression of life is all about a falling away.
Old people are like leaves falling from a tree. No, make that the maturing young adults are the leaves falling, the old people in truth are advancing into the first stage of becoming fertilizer. We fall on the top the previous fallen leaves and we sit there admiring the forest and saying, "This is nice." Then other leaves fall on top of us.
It does something to your psyche to know that despite every effort that you have made in your life to erect a monument to your existence in the material world, you are still going up end up the same as the grasses and grains that come out of a cow's ass.
It's all about the cycle of life they preach. Well, tell that to the cow plop, it might be cool with the situation, providing that it could muster up enough comprehension to understand. But as human beings, it is somewhat self deflating. It's like Sir. Edmund Hillary reaching the top of Mt. Everest only to discover a couple hundred screaming kids frolicking in strip mall Chuck E. Cheese.
But younger people feel the pressure of time also; it is always pushing its way into their efforts to build that aforementioned monument. They also begin to get frustrated with the ones who came before as if the presence of the old is the sole reason that the world isn't getting any better quicker. At this same time, many start to lose sight of all the golden horizons of their youth and begin to get a bit testy.
I think that this creates a disconnect that is the great tragedy of life, as impatience causes the younger adults to fail to mine the accumulated wisdom of the aged and to just want to shove the whole tired mess out of the way in the name of progress. In turn, the threat of becoming irrelevant makes the aged cling ever more tightly to the remembrance of things past, bad as well as good.
The bottom line is that a hell of a lot more things get said than get heard.
There are important lessons to be learned here. For the aged, it is to understand that at least half the shit in existence at any time needs to go. It's called the Closet Cleaning Theory. If you ain't wearing it, toss it. Human beings have stupid ideas and do very stupid things. This is true of every historic period. Clinging to and trying to hold them all in place is a tremendous waste of energy. We are really only trying to remain relevant and afraid that if we let go of too much, the suction of time will carry us into a stranger place than we are currently inhabiting.
For the younger adults, it is to understand that everything and everyone who is older than you is not automatically stupid for disagreeing with what you believe; you will also need to understand that just as often as not, it will be you who is the stupid fucker in the situation. Youth is not a bidet, and sometimes your shit really does stink. You should also know that it usually takes a while to learn this lesson.
The greatest secret of life is the fact that most of the time, all of us- both young and old don't really know jack shit about anything. Those great men who we honor for creating science did us all a grave disfavor by placing the great question of life on a back burner while they set about to discover why piss flows downhill.
I know life is better in many ways because of scientific developments, but the way science has treated the great question of life has not only cut us off from hidden paths that might have given us some kind of an answer; it has also given complicit approval for human beings to frolic their lives away in meaningless endeavors. It has also caused humans to embrace many idiotic beliefs.
It has divided us along the lines of those who think they know everything but really don't know shit, and those who cling far too tightly to the the stupid shit they once thought they knew.
I know I went a little over board with the cow plop metaphor, but it is actually aligned with what many people believe about life. They call the spiritually inclined stupid and superstitious for believing that life has greater meaning, but they themselves are the ones who share a mindset with cow plop.
I guess it's a push anyway, after all, the new world is always being born in the cow plop of the old.