I'm sitting in yet another coffee shop as I write this. Once again it's my birthday and I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life and where I'm going. I've just turned 42 which, as Douglas Adams would have it means I now have the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Or I am the answer. Or something like that. I don't even know what I'm having for dinner tonight, let alone know what life is or is for so I'm probably not the best person to ask.
No, I'm not going to post a link to the video for Birthday this time, though it would be appropriate. I figured I'd give something else a try for once.
Looking back I don't feel noticeably different since last time. I've got less hair on my head these days because most of it's migrated to my ear canals. The hair that I still have is steadily turning silver and it's the first thing I see every time I look in the mirror. I don't particularly think that I need to take better care of my joints but it never hurts, right? Mostly it's my perception of Time that's changing. Days seem to go by a little faster regardless of whether I'm actively doing something or just screwing around. Weeks certainly seem to fly by these days. I still don't know what happened to the holiday season of 2019.ev, and the last HOPE seems just as close as the one coming up this summer. Things happen, and then they don't, and then something else happens. I still don't know how I feel about that.
I've been reading in the car less and looking around more. I'm not sure why.
Folks I've known for multiple decades aren't just married anymore, their kids are growing up and doing cute things (as children are wont to do). Somewhere in between the two events, in the blink of an eye, children were born.
Fixtures of my life - favorite coffee shops, conventions, book stores - are steadily going away. Most of them aren't being replaced with anything new, they're staying closed, silent, slowly decaying. I've been looking elsewhere for things.
The one thing I've observed, however, is that I seem to care less about a lot of things. Some of it comes from the knowledge that I'm getting old, and it's time for me to step aside in a lot of things to make room for new blood to take the next step. Sure, I keep a sensor network on it but I'm not really active anymore. Some of it is that my already low tolerance for bullshit has become a key criterion for deciding if I'm going to get involved in anything rather than a barometer for how long I might want to work on something. And some of it is... well...
Not too long ago I came across a quote from Marcus Aurelius which goes, "You are not compelled to form any opinion about this matter before you, nor to disturb your peace of mind at all. Things in themselves have no power to extort a verdict from you," (Meditations, book six) and it got me thinking. Over the years, not a few things that I'd gotten involved in was due to people giving me a hell of a time over not having a strong public opinion over this, that, or the other thing, and if I was going to have any sort of social connectivity I had to profess at least something no matter what. Nowadays, looking at the world around me, I can't rouse myself sufficiently to make even that token effort. I don't have the time, the energy, or the compute cycles to care about each and every grain of sand in the hourglass of life. If you can do it good on you, but I can't. If I care, I care. If it matters, it matters. I have other stuff going on and that other stuff is going on with, not without me.
In other news, my pre-emptive slow motion midlife crisis is going quite well. I'm branching back out a bit from the standard issue Bay Area t-shirt and hoodie, I finally got new glasses (my old ones were only eleven years old), and in a nod to my lifelong love of all things cyberpunk as well as my roots in the Pittsburgh hacker community I got the obligatory tattoo courtesy of Morpheus Ravenna of Banshee Arts in Berkeley, California. The glider-cum-sockets on the back of my neck reflect growing up in the 412/724 hacker scene, as well as owning up to the fact that I'm a yinzer at heart. The datajacks behind my ear demonstrate taht I'm a computer geek (as if you couldn't figure that bit out), and because something like a third of everything I am and everything I do is running on or connected to the Internet. Admittedly, I still need to lose a bit of weight but on the whole I'm fairly pleased with my progress at the gym these days. I haven't felt the need to get a new car (I don't do much driving these days anyway) though revisiting the music of my formative years has been quite enjoyable. I've seen the Sisters of Mercy and InSoc, now the Utah Saints need to go on tour... I might even go see Psykosonik if the opportunity ever came but knowing the direction some of the band's original members went in I'm not sure I'd be able to enjoy such a show.
Rereading this post as part of the editing process, it seems that the tone of the text is definitely not upbeat and cheery. The thing about birthdays and the aging process is that they reflect the second law of thermodynamics. Very few processes are truly reversible, and barring truly heroic (and stupidly expensive) measures the aging process is relentless in its progress. To some extent I'm still mourning some of the changes in my life, as I am wont to do. I accepted long ago that life is fragile, even tenuous in the grand scheme of things and that's not something that I can forget. Cases in point, every time I see a white chest hair when I get out of the shower or my back sounds like a double fistful of legos dropped onto a tile floor when I stand up I can't help but wonder once in a while if that's the time that it's going to get fucked up again (random aches and pains, subtype "MotherFUCKER!"). Such is life, I suppose.