Sometimes it feels like the only thing to do is sip my beer. I like it cold and crisp, preferably generic, but occasionally fancy. I like my wine fancy but my beer generic…. Is that balanced?
There is a lot going on in the world. I can’t think of any time, in the recent past, when there wasn’t a lot going on in the world; but 2020 is making its case, one meme at a time, to take the cake for the craziest of years. I reckon that’s why I wanted to write a simple blog about what I think about when I drink a beer. Which seems to be one of the last vestiges of my life the tech overlords haven’t taken over.
I could, of course, be making too much of the thoughts that follow. But I’ll share all the same.
Once a runner, bounding along hills and dales or endlessly circling a red oval, I was rarely passed by other runners. Mostly, I can attribute that to the fact that I was a good runner, but also, there were many other runners quite capable of passing that simply never ran with. Now, I plod along a country road with a touch of lethargy in my legs. Recently I was passed—passed by a younger man and woman in bright stretchy clothes. A new generation, rolling on fresh legs.
A metaphor perhaps?
A metaphor for technology, for how the technical aptitudes of my own generation, and certainly the next, seem to have skipped over me entirely—one tweet at a time.
Feeling like a Luddite does not jive well with my life as an entrepreneur—or just my life in general. My business partners jokingly call me the “elder millennial” which is now my Slack name. My favorite app is Notes so I really don’t blame them.
I do not shun the gift of knowledge and progress. But, I do now tend to walk a few steps behind it, running the risk, of being lapped. Things are always handed down to the next generation but I also must be steadfast in keeping my own pace and time.
Perhaps I’m just dealing with the fact that, despite being young, I’m really not that young compared to those who are truly young and embracing all the newness in the world. When I travel, I feel a deep fondness for countries that seem trapped in time— cafes without wifi, afternoon naps—that kind of thing.
Still, I’m inspired by that younger runner self. An unfailing optimism for life born and bred in a more optimistic time with very little else to worry about. He (my younger runner self) may not have liked me much. Intense, singularly focused with “be faster…be the fastest” mantra at the heart of my daily life. He didn’t drink beer either. The taste, I recall, was foul, and the other problem was that beer didn’t help me run. In a word, it wasn’t “healthy.”
Now, I seek something older—something as old as time maybe. Perhaps that makes me a tad depressed because there is an inherent unattainability to such a quest. Perhaps that depressed feeling is just a desire for more rest.
Other questions for which I seek answers: How do I truly carve out my own path and stick with it? How hard should I work? How much should I rest? Am I narrow-minded? Should I be brash and confident or doubt my abilities? Should I share or take extra care of what privacy I have left? How much should I tune into the outer world or turn inward?
Either way, I’m so close to all these thoughts and things that analyzing them myself won’t lead to much resolution at the moment.
It sounds like a problem, but I don’t think our lives are problems to be solved. That is the experience of awareness and the experience of letting go, as I understand them today.
Happiness, as I also understand it today, is wanting what you have already. It’s also a constant lowering of the bar. Not raising it. Not adding to it. Of course, our human ambition would desire the pursuit of perfection of a skill or a task, but the supposed achievement of that skill or task will not give you happiness. We can seek perfection but know we’ll never attain it.
That’s one of the reasons I’m inconsistent with social media. There never seemed an end to the seeking; it never offered “one less thing to do” and it never really brought me happiness. Mostly, however, I just don’t love sharing too many aspects of my personal life or the details about my otherwise mundane days. I view my “social” only as an extension of my personal brand tenants—the things I do that help identify me with a specific audience who identify with the same set of things. I understand all too well that, not only does that make my social somewhat inauthentic, but worse, a very misleading exposé of what one might think of me and my life (and how that makes them feel about theirs.) By my estimation, that makes me a bit full of shit. But maybe we’re all a bit full of shit?
Having not yet found a way to reconcile my desire for privacy and sharing with that which seems expected of me (dare I over-generalize and say all of us), I still post what I post…for better or worse.
And as I do, my struggle with the kind of darkness that persists through much of humanity, right there on my feed, seems to weigh heavier than the goodness and positive uses of the social tool that is right there alongside it. It is a contradiction which, when logging on, always gives me the feeling that I might be a bit too close to the sun.
And then there is the other stuff…you know. The biases, the echo chambers, the “alternative” facts, the comparisons and the labels.
Knowing that the neuroplasticity of my brain results in me seeing the world from my own inner experience—interpretation of sight, sound, taste and smell—it would still seem that all of my fellow humans, individual as they may be, experience things similarly to me.
The problem is not that our “felt” inner experiences are all different (we all experience fear, shame, guilt, sadness, happiness), but instead it would appear they result in dramatically opposite outer experiences.
I’m a Liberal, not a Conservative, therefore…
I’m a businessman, not a hippie, therefore…
I like electric cars, not trucks, therefore…
But lately, as I sip my beer, I haven’t felt much like those labels help me understand life and my place in the world as they do make me feel separate from everything and everyone else.
Owning a gun license and a hunting license are case in point. I never imagined I’d have those because they were not aligned with the labels I’d identified with. Yet, here I am, mostly done this first beer and I have a gun license and that doesn’t make me the opposite of what I was before.
I’m just me.
And that…that feels less limiting than letting my blood boil over some label I was told I had to give myself.
But more than that even, it’s just about sitting down and drinking this cold beer. It’s about sitting. It’s about pausing. It’s about having a conversation. It’s about being present.
Yet, there is systemic racism and the unearthing of other unspeakable catastrophes of the human experiences. One movement after the next happening all the time, so how can we just sit down and sip a beer? Maybe I should be protesting and posting about it. Maybe not doing that makes me a coward. Hopefully, it’s still okay to sit and have a beer and think about things. Think and feel them. Live them in my soul before I take them to the streets. No question, I’ll be roused to action for many things in my life, but I prefer to find my own way there. Shame and guilt should not be the path. I know the protesters aren’t shaming me. It’s those labels and how they appear on the Twittersphere and my newsfeed that shame me. It’s my own experiences that shame me and I often wonder, are there more cowards like me?
What I do know is this beer. I know that it’s cold. I know I can’t have too much. Two will be all for now. I know that the sun is shining. I know the birds are singing and flying from tree to tree and a soft breeze rustles the leaves making a constant whispering sound. I know that my heart is beating and thoughts about this and that float through my head. I know if drink this beer fast it will be over and I’ll have to get on with other things. But, if I don’t drink it fast, but instead slow down and enjoy the cool feel of the glass in my hands and the slight buzzing of the moment that dances around me, I can glimpse that slow and smooth “wanting what I have” kind of happiness.