Early in your life, your job is to grow up, to learn, to lay the foundation “so that you won’t be behind” and “so that you won’t suffer” when you get older.
By the time you reach your teens, the job is somewhat different. It’s to compete, to accelerate, to build, and when that inevitably doesn’t work out—as it won’t a couple of times—it’s to change things up.
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At some point, you reach adulthood. For most it’s sometime after they turn 30. For a few it’s earlier. For some, later.
You’ll know you’ve reached it because once you reach adulthood, you can no longer do any of those things. You feel unable to learn. Unable to lay new foundations. Unable to alter the fundamental positions in what used to be a competition. Unable to accelerate or to slow down. Unable to build.
You emerge into this extended state in which you live the same day over and over again. The same week over and over again. The same month over and over again.
No matter what you do, you are unable to change the fundamental dynamic.
You move across the country a few times. You change careers a few times. People die. People are born. Major diseases come and go. New cars, cars crashed, new cars again. New homes, homes worn down, new homes again. It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. No matter what you do, you have the same basic financial situation. You have the same basic social situation. You live the same basic life. You have the same basic days.
No matter what you do, you are living in empty time, in which nothing is ever different.
You become desperate to break free, to loosen the rock and get it to roll down the hill, to light the fuse and get the bomb to explode, anything—anything—to change things, because you know that this stasis can’t last forever and what you really want to avoid is being stuck where you are until suddenly, when you’re 65, or 75, or 85, you emerge in an instant, and quite unexpectedly, into the last days of your life, having achieved nothing new, seen nothing new, done nothing new since you were 25, or 35, or whatever age it was since you entered into adulthood.
But it doesn’t matter. No matter how hard you work at doing something you, you can’t. No matter how hard you work at seeing something new, you won’t.
Life really consists of about 15 years of childhood, about 10-15 years of young adulthood, and about 5 years of settling your accounts and dying.
Everything else is this strange period of suspended animation—of extended pause in a closed loop—in the middle.