Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Cool is the first thing to go when you join the ranks of the sinners.  §

So I was having this chat with an old friend about how when we were younger, we were cool. Reckless and invincible and effortless and cool and everything was easy—everything. Yet somewhere along the way, we’d lost it.

And at first, for a day or so, I was thinking that this was because when you’re young you have nothing to lose, but as you get older, you do. You can’t afford to be devil-may-care any longer because the things that you do actually affect other people, and because it begins to matter whether a risk was a good risk or a bad risk, whether you’re up to the task or not. When you’re young, it’s easy to take on any challenge with a smirk, because nothing in particular is at stake.

I was ever-so-subtly wrong.

Tonight I realize that cool goes not when you have something to lose, but when you have lost. When you have suffered. When you have, in fact, let people down, failed at the task, had to face the consequences of your failures.

If you have any god damn brains when you’re older, you realize that cool is unbecoming. Swagger is unbecoming. Because by the time you reach middle age, if you’ve lived at all, you’ve also fucked up. People have paid the price. Things have gone wrong. You and others around you have suffered and suffered greatly for your sins and your conceits.

Once that’s hung around someone’s neck, it takes either an asshole or an idiot to swagger around like a pirate. Humility doesn’t come from the stakes. Humility comes from having lost it all, and indeed from having lost it all for others as well. Once you carry the weight of souls around with you, you can no longer slice through life like you own it because that would be ugly and because you bear that weight every day, everywhere you go.

That’s the transition from the cocky young guy to the quiet old guy. Both are equally capable, but the quiet old guy keeps his mouth shut. He knows that capability doesn’t count for shit; you’ve crushed people and things you loved and you’ll likely do it again before your life is done, no matter how capable you are, because those are the stakes, because that’s what happens.

He keeps his mouth shut and he does his job and he tells people younger than him that he hopes they win, even though by now he knows better.

That’s the generation gap. Young folk think older folk are cowards and idiots because young folk, contrary to what they imagine about themselves, are as pure as the driven snow.