August 08, 2009

Inertia / momentum

Philip Larkin dated the start of the 60s [sex] to 1963, and the end has been put at Altamont [1969] or when Haight Ashbury began attracting tourists and runaways from the midwest [1968, in Jane Didion's account], but I remember reading somewhere that for the Rolling Stones the sixties didn't end until the early seventies, around Exile on Main St / Cocksucker Blues. The point being that things don't follow a neat timeline, there's intertia / momentum, and the landmarks we set up are all just points of departure, convenient half-truths, like most of our perceptions.

All through my early + mid-20s I was a fairly typical under-skilled and over-employed liberal arts grad, and then when I was 26 I quit my job and spent the next few years traveling and getting more heavily into not working and over-partying, and there were many occasions when I should have died, been horrifically injured or imprisoned, all through stupidity rather than daring.

I think this is a good way to spend your twenties, if you can find a way out at the end, but that generally means not getting in too deep, not having as much fun as you could. Because the people who have a lot of fun, the ones who take a happily irresponsible attitude toward drink, drugs, sex, and so on to its logical conclusion - happiness being a button that you hit again and again - well, there are many traps along the way.

But then not following those lines of inquiry may leave you open to easy regrets, which can last for the rest of your life. And there are traps all over the place, in the quietest, safest lives you know.

So when I was 30 I wanted to get my life together, because I thought in neat, 10-year units. I skidded on haphazardly until at least 33, and then slowly pulled things into some kind of order, to the point they are now [39], when I'm married, have permanent residency and do my own thing with regard to time / $. But even in periods of seeming inertia things are churning beneath the surface. Nothing is consciously willed into being at the moment of decision or action. Which means that although I have no idea what will happen next, most of it has already started.

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