"*As long as I do a little better," we think, "then I'm doing okay. " By and large, this is, I believe, a good mindset - at least it keeps us honest with ourselves. My father was married at 22, divorced at 34, and works at a sizable company at which he reports directly to the president and CEO. He's set a steep hill for me to climb, but I can take solace in that I'm not Bruce Springsteen's kid.
When we're seventeen, it's only the most astute of us that know we don't know anything. Even those select few seem to forget it, maybe at nineteen, twenty-two, or twenty-five, and instead start to thinking that maybe we've got this whole "Life" thing figured out. Those poor children.
Don't get me wrong, I was one of those, too, I thought I had that secret ingredient, that thing which propels a person to that sweet spot of success that rests just beyond where our parents were at that age. We thought we were doing things right until we lost our job, our apartment, and the goodwill of our friends and roommates.
The first time this happens it rocks the world, affects us on an existential level. We find out that we don't have this "Life" thing figured out. We drop into a downward spiral, the length and depth of which depends solely on our own mental and emotional fortitude.
Eventually, we recover. We get a new job, patch some friendships, mourn those we can't patch, and move on. We build the false impression in our minds that we are getting a better handle on life than we've ever had. And maybe we actually do, but there will always be that next disaster, that next existential crisis that breaks our world view.
We promise ourselves that we're going to do better, that our college GPA will be higher, that when we marry (the first time) it'll be forever, that we'll settle into a higher paying or more fulfilling career than our parents have, but the thing about that is, they probably don't have the slightest idea what life is about, either. When my dad fell in love with, and married my mom (a time I can't fathom, as I can scarcely remember them in the same room) I'm fairly certain he had life all figure out, that he was just chasing that intangible dream of doing better than his father, not knowing that three kids and twelve years later he would be left with nothing, and the realization that he knew exactly that much about what to do next. He didn't have that special ingredient any more than I do. The giant, rigid phallus of life fucks us all in our own unique little ways.
I've come to realize a simple truth: none of us really know what's going on; there is no special trait in any of us that gives us the Knowledge of how to be successful in life, our careers, or love. We're all just folk trying to get along. Some of us are failing, some succeeding, and most of us are somewhere in the middle, either approaching a crisis or recovering from one.
I'm not going to ask we all afford each other mutual kindness in light of this observation that we're all a little lost. The way I figure it, if you've got it in your mind to be a dick to people, that's exactly what you're going to do. I want you to know that the person on the receiving end of your douchebaggery is just as messed up as you are, and has possibly found a more productive way of dealing with it than fucking with people. Learn from them, maybe it could help you get out of whatever crisis you're going through. . . or about to go through.
Either that, or I have no idea what I'm talking about, and you should just continue being a dick to unsuspecting people. Your call.