Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Mid-Life Crisis of an Immortal

Although I like to think of myself as immortal – hey, I’ve been right so far – I’ve had this feeling lately that the time for my mid-life crisis is ripe. That said, let me make it perfectly clear that a mid-life crisis for me had nothing to do with trying to recapture the excitement of my youth by buying a flashy car with which to entice nubile young women into bed. For me, a mid-life crisis (or a life-crisis I should say) comes via the realization that I haven’t done anything interesting or noteworthy with my life. While I do not seek fame and fortune (but wouldn’t shun either as a consequence of “accomplishing something”), whatever I accomplish I want to be something people remember long into the future. I desire a legacy.

While I desire a legacy, it is by no means necessary to my existence, much less anyone else’s. No one needs to “do something” with their life. I’ve often considered simply being a good person enough to deal with in one’s lifetime, insomuch as one can be. However, this view is no longer sufficient for me as I feel I have more to offer the world. So there’s that and the possibility that maybe I’m not such a good person. Wouldn’t a good person be satisfied being good and not rather be known for solving some difficult esoteric problem or contributing an important idea or two such as I do? I wish I could be like Albert Einstein, only better looking if only with half the brain (probably an over-estimation). Maybe I could resolve what it means to be a good person…

Why should I desire a legacy? Why should I believe I have more to offer the world? I believe my desire is an expression of my genes, where my genes (and yours) are ultimately geared towards survival of the species. While my rational self restrains any desire to procreate, a deep genetic longing for the species to survive may be causing me to play what hand I may to that end. However, such feelings clash with another side of my personality and thus the question is raised: Does the world deserve my help?

Despite my generally congenial disposition and that I lend a helping hand (literally and metaphorically speaking) as often as I do, I would be inclined to characterize myself as generally misanthropic. Why should I be pessimistic about people? Several recent news items come to mind such as the number of women professing their love for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the rich using handicapped people to cut in line at Disney World, and scientists closing in on human cloning, damn the consequences. While the news media is geared towards selling the lowest common denominator, each of these instances nevertheless illustrates that no matter how much “good” good people do, their actions are negated by how exponentially worse bad people affect the world. Worse, good people just take it precisely because they think they’re good and fancifully imagine justice always wins in the end. I do not view this as rational. It is a flawed way of behaving. Why should I aid and abet the irrational and the flawed? I have as much contempt for the Average Joe as I do the people who take advantage of them. And so I am conflicted.

There is a solution. Like Sherlock Holmes or Dr. House, I must be in it for myself. I must be in it for the love of the game, to solve the puzzles. Oh, there are so many puzzles. Perhaps then the world will benefit indirectly from my efforts. Then again, Albert Einstein does have the atomic bomb on his hands. There are always those damned unintended consequences. Maybe I should sit on the dock of the bay instead, watch the waves roll in, and just waste time.

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