John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

Welcome to the Future -- OF THE FUTURE!

Well, well, well, here it is 2010 and all the stuff that wasn't here in 2000 still isn't here. How disappointing! The mad scientists are really falling down on the job. Or covering their tracks better, one or the other.

On a more personal note, like many I'm using the new year/decade/whatever as an opportunity to reflect on where I've been, where I'm going, and how it's likely to play out. Some thoughts...

Officially Middle-Aged
I turned 40 when I wasn't looking. For many people this seems to be a giant scary thing, but not particularly for me. I've commented before about how I've always sort of thought of myself as being 32 years old, even when I was 20, and that's still true now. Although the truth of the matter is that I was not a happy person at 32. Better than I was at 31, but still not great. These days I'm much more comfortable in my own skin and feel fairly confident that any particular project I may embark on, I will do well at ... the only problem is deciding which one I really want to embark on. Some people freak out if they haven't Made It Big (tm) by this point in their lives, but not me. Rex Stout didn't start writing Nero Wolfe stories until he was 45, and he made out just fine. :) Besides, I've already had a taste of success with Suburban Jungle, and there's a lot to be proud of there.

Looking for a Star to Hitch To
On the other hand, putting SJ to bed has left me a lot more aimless than I thought it would. This past year has been a difficult one for non-day-job projects of any kind -- I've been coming home exhausted and stressed out a lot -- and that's made it hard to get excited about anything. Everything I might want to take on just seems so big that it's tough to commit to any of them for fear of getting trapped in it the way I felt trapped in SJ by the end. On the other hand, I know I'm not going to be content to just coming home and playing LotRO forever. I've commented before on how life has a tendency to look to me like an hourglass running all-too-rapidly out of sand, with the "Things I Want to Do" list far outstripping the "Things I'll Ever Have the Chance to Do" list. I don't know why I've got this "MUST ACHIEVE!" drive, and frankly I envy people who don't. I've often wondered if it's related to my horror of the idea that the atheists are probably right. If this is all I get ... can I really blow it all on computer games and still face myself in the mirror? [1]

Not that I don't have irons in the fire; in fact, over the past few weeks I've had two more potentially novel-worthy ideas, which I've written down so as not to lose them. I've put in some heavy groundwork for a novel idea I had last year, and my brain is still chewing on others I was playing with while working on SJ. Any or all of these could be grand, or they could go plop. That's part of why it's so hard to commit to them, the fear that I might sink blood, sweat, and tears into them only to get a universal reaction of "Meh." Of course, if I never do any of them, none of them will succeed.

Welcome to the Present
One thing I've been thinking about is letting go of the past. And by that I don't mean the usual "I forgive the emotional scars of my childhood" stuff you hear about, but a more general kind of bringing myself up to date. This can probably best be described by example:

On my cubicle wall, I have a calendar of "classic cars." This month's is a 1937 Mercedes Benz 540k, much like the one pictured here. This is a rare and beautiful car of a kind not seen these days. And in the past, I've often sighed wistfully and wished to live in a world where cars like this were the norm. Except with air conditioning. And automatic shift. And GPS. And satellite radio. And seatbelts. And safety glass. Okay, so what I really want is a modern car that LOOKS like this. The car in this picture is 73 years old ... it's from a very different world than the one we live in today.

And that's the way I am about a lot of things. I've never wanted to live in the past, but I have always longed for a present that preserved more of the bits of the past that I like. I watch Top Hat and yearn for the days when waistcoats, bowties, and cufflinks were the mode of the day ... but I'd never want to live in a segregated, women-trampled, robber-baron world with no A/C and Europe getting ready to tear itself apart again.

Most of the fiction I enjoy is older than I am -- or pastiches of the same. My favorite movies are either in black-and-white, or nostalgic throwbacks to the same. Ditto music. In just about every facet of my life, there's some "days of yore" current to be found. Whenever I encounter something, I always like to dig under the surface and trace back its origins, and I usually discover that I prefer the original to the current incarnation.

The problem is, I've got to live in the world that really exists now, and it has of late become a bit more difficult to resolve my love of the "then" with the reality of "now." And as I've pondered this problem, I've gradually come to the conclusion that what I really need to do is to let go of it. Not to discard my love of things classic, but to stop trying to force them into an unwilling present. I realize this all sounds quite vague and I wish I could make it more concrete, but it's really hard to put it into words that will make sense to anyone who doesn't already live inside my head and know what it's like in here.

Where To, Where To?
For the moment, I have no immediate plans [2] other than to keep working and keep my eyes open for the Next Big Thing (tm) in my life. I'm sure there's something out there, it's just a matter of finding it, or more likely letting it find me. I started Suburban Jungle on a whim and it's been my biggest project to date. It's perfectly possible that something I am playing with now, could become just a big if not more so by this time next year. We'll see!

-The Gneech

[1] My core beliefs, such as they are, are pretty hard to nail down. On a fundamental level, I've always just sort of felt that some sort of reincarnation was true; at the same time, I don't really believe it. I describe myself as "living in hope," because I really REALLY don't want life to boil down to a series of chemical reactions that end when they reach the expiration date and you're gone forever -- but if there is an afterlife of some kind I will be gobsmacked. It's not a happy place mentally, but I don't see any way out of it.

[2] Well, that's not entirely true ... I also intend to get a haircut.
Tags: deep thoughts, moments
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