The thing that bothers me most right now in life is the pervasive sense that I have since 2010 become less like the person that I want someday to be than I was then.
I am backsliding in life, not in any particular numeric or measurable way; this isn’t about income or degrees or status or square feet in the house or anything like that.
It’s in terms of those personal goals that are the most personal. State of mind. Personality. Ways of thinking about and experiencing the world. Habits of thought. Self-identity. Alertness, motivation, and energy levels.
I just plain like the person that I was and that I was becoming in New York more than I like the person that I am today. Orders of magnitude more. I respected that person. I sometimes struggle to respec this one, not because of vices or moral failings or anything like that.
Just because there’s a limit to what you can be in a place like this. There’s only so much for your mind and body to do, to think about. It’s mostly empty space. And the thinly dispersed people are mostly empty space as well. Being an “average person” here is a fundamentally less impressive thing than it is there.
By and large, sorry to say, the people of middle America are just less. Less of everything. And not in the Zen way, or even the pop-Zen way. I’m talking about creativity, initiative, wisdom, sociability, ambition, faith, hope, smarts, desires, legacy, even taste and diversity of interests.
Less. They’re just less. They like it. They admire “hard, plain, simple folk who don’t waste words.” I don’t. I just don’t. I think that’s alternate langauge for what my wife would call, after Marx, one giant sack of potatoes. By and large, they’d like that description. And, after Marx once again, they’d do it individually and without any thought for anyone else or for what it might mean in the larger scheme of things. They don’t like larger schemes of things. They like the Sunday funnies and trips to the Wal-Mart and mowing the lawn and blowing stuff up on the fourth of July.
And the longer I am here, the more I am becoming one of them—that thing I always said, growing up, that I’d never do.
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This is nowhere.