The implicit rules for life we were taught are quite simple. Go to school, join some sports club, head to college, get a good degree, start working and invest your savings. Borrow as much money from the bank as possible, to buy as big of a house as possible, because the paper value of your house determines your worth as a human being. Buy a big shiny car, look out of your window and get upset when children on bicycles ride too closely past your car. Go to birthday parties of people you vaguely know, meet other people there until you stumble upon someone you can start a family with. Meet the parents, move in together, get a dog or a cat that serves as a kind of beta-version of a child. Have your heart broken, mourn for two months, get back in the game, go through the same thing three or four times more, until you’re older and the woman starts to realize her biological clock is ticking. Have one or two children, watch them grow up, get a golden watch from your boss, buy that big boat you’ve always wanted, grow bored of it after two summers, then watch TV until you get Alzheimer’s disease.
That’s basically it. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Anything else is tacitly thought of as failure. But I’m here today to tell you, that I want to fail. Why do I want to fail? Well, to start with, you can’t trust anyone over thirty. Hunter gatherers have a stable population in nature and need slightly more than two children per woman to replace themselves. We grow fertile at 13, assume it takes ten years to raise a child and it’s pretty clear that our biological purpose starts fading out after thirty. Nature built some failsafes into the human body that allow us to live longer than we need to in the absence of predators and modern medicine manages to drag it all out a bit further, but when you get beyond forty, the purpose to your existence becomes increasingly dubious.
In the Western world, half of all people are above forty. They invented dumb stuff like stock market bubbles and botox to make it seem like their lives still serve a purpose, but we all know they’re fooling themselves. If this were a video game, around the age of forty you enter out of bounds, a strange zone the computer programmers never thought you’d reach, so they didn’t think of anything fun to put there. Love? Love isn’t designed to last twenty years either, it’s designed to sizzle out when the kids start walking.
You can pretend that you’re not forty or fifty. I’m all in favor of that, but it isn’t helping much here. To start with you have too many memories of how life works, you’re no longer naive. If you’ve had five or six partners, it’s not quite exactly Romeo and Juliet anymore, is it? “When my fifteenth boyfriend broke up with me I took a bottle of pills, but they emptied my stomach in the hospital.” Is not a sentence you hear very often, is it? The emotional rollercoaster turns into a scenic train tour at some point. This is why I favor teenage pregnancies. I support the survival of the most passionate, rather than the survival of corporate career woman who can afford IVF treatments at age 42.
I’m in my late twenties. The big three-o that officially leaves me in out of bounds territory is creeping up on me. I listened too much to Alex Jones as a teenager, so I had always assumed I would have been gassed in a FEMA death camp by now, but unfortunately that didn’t happen, I’m probably going to have to grow old myself. I might have a wife who looks pretty at first, but eventually becomes overweight, as her skin starts to droop beneath her neck. This is the fate of all men who grow old.
At some point she decides she wants to get rid of her long locks, so she’ll have a short haircut. If she really hates her husband, she’ll dye it red. This is the psychological castration of her husband. She now signals to the world that her own testosterone levels are higher than those of her husband. She demonstrates to the world that her husband gets to watch the sports news for half an hour out of the goodness of her heart, but the rest of the evening he’ll have to watch whatever British crime series she wants to watch.
Cherish those years
Cherish those youthful years dear reader. I frankly have just one piece of advice to today’s teenagers, which is to be wilder. Computers, homework, social shaming, all contribute to making today’s teenagers “nicer” than previous generations of teenagers. Today’s teenagers have sex later, get pregnant less often, drink less alcohol, take less drugs, but have more eating disorders, higher self-injury rates and more suicide attempts. Teenagers have become like zoo animals in cages that won’t breed but merely rock back and forward bashing their head against the wall.
I blame adults for this. Who the hell cares if your kid doesn’t get into Yale? Did your own life really suck so badly because you didn’t get into an Ivy League college? I’m Dutch, I screwed up continually in high school and got bad grades, it meant I had to spent one year extra in high school, before getting to attend the same universities as I otherwise would have. It’s hard to sufficiently emphasize how much drama I had to experience, over what essentially amounts to one year of my life.
I think it’s a good idea for me to make a list of things you should do as a teenager:
- Girls: Go shoplifting with your friends. Doing things you’re not supposed to together creates a bond. You’re a minor, so if you end up getting caught it won’t haunt you for the rest of your life. Watch some video tutorials on Youtube and follow some Tumblr blogs to figure out how to get away with it.
- Guys: Destroy something. Don’t burn down an orphanage or a national park, keep it simple. Blow up a mailbox or something along those lines. It’s cheap to repair, you’ll feel kind of guilty over it and you’ll never feel the urge to do it again.
- Do drugs, convince all your friends to do drugs too. I drank so much weed tea once that I thought I visited Satan’s palace in hell. “But pot reduces your IQ!” Oh noes, that means you won’t be able to climb the corporate ladder and start out-earning your peers at age forty! Worse, if pot reduces your IQ, you might spend less time crippled by existential depression!
- Unprotected sex. You’re young, you probably don’t carry STD’s. You probably won’t get pregnant, if you do get pregnant, have an abortion. The majority of fertilized eggs are aborted by your own body spontaneously, there’s honestly nothing wrong with having an abortion. Studies show aborted pregnancies are actually healthy for women.
- Do other stuff you’re not supposed to do. I climbed into other people’s house with a friend, while gazing up her skirt. Suffice to say she became my girlfriend.
- Cheat on your tests! Nothing creates a bond like passing messages back and forth during a test. Bonus points: Steal the answers to the test before getting the test. (God mode: Then still get a mediocre grade because you can’t even be bothered to memorize all the answers).
- Dress up, every single day. You’re doing something wrong if you don’t turn heads and don’t get frowns from people when you walk by. Pentagrams, inverted crosses, plateau boots, corsets, pink lolita skirts, go for it. At my age it just looks kind of sad, at your age it’s still great.
You carry the torch now
The light is dying and I’m entering that good night. I’m becoming an adult, because I’m at the age where every alternative is even worse. I spent my teenage years preparing for an end of the world that didn’t arrive. If I’m wrong about impending doom and we’ll actually reach a singularity, I’ll simply reboot my brain roughly every thirty years. I’ll store my memories in a database somewhere and go through everything again. I’ll be a teenage girl who snuck into a night club with a fake ID, a boy who stole his father’s car to visit his girlfriend and a homeless train-hopping crust punk heading to the rainbow gathering. Once every thousand playthroughs I’ll be a boring nerd with an Ivy League degree who works as a corporate lawyer and spends his days anxiously watching what the SP 500 is doing, just to remind myself that it exists.
But I don’t think I’m wrong. I think I was right after all, I just had the timing wrong. Wandering at age 17 in the abandoned metro tunnel beneath your city with your crowbar in your hand, hearing the shrieks of a beautiful girl with pale skin and a long black dress, afraid of zombies encroaching upon her, that’s paradise. I’ll settle for less, watching babyboomers cry because their stock portfolio crashed by fifty percent in a month before the entire economy collapses sounds amusing too. The greatest gift Americans ever gave to us was Donald Trump. I thought it was unavoidable that this whole thing would be dragged out until the latter half of the century. I thought I would one day look into the mirror and stare at a big swollen belly with two saggy hairy manboobs on top, with a wife in bed telling me to hurry up because I need to get up at 7 in the morning. I think Mr. Trump might have saved us from endless dread. The anger in America reached such a boiling point that every Joe Sixpack conspired to elect the most incompetent figure imaginable.
I don’t really feel like discussing the intricacies of the latest study on the climate sensitivity to CO2 doublings or anything like that anymore. Nobody cares about that shit who isn’t paid to care about it or somehow convinced himself that his own mind can conjure up the apocalypse by reading the right information on the Internet. You want to know whether you’ll be sitting in front of the TV one day wondering whether you can get away with switching the channel because your wife seems to be asleep, you don’t really care that much whether sea level will have risen by 3 or 4 feet by 2100.
The dream is still alive, but it’s too late for me. I’ll be a boring old man with a sweaty belly that barely fits into his button-up shirt, who merely notices that his portfolio has not been performing as well as he hoped, if it happens in my lifetime. I hope it happens in my lifetime. But what is “it”? It is when passion vanquishes reason. It is when Dionysus takes revenge on Apollo after all those years. It’s when you stop going to work because your intuition tells you that you won’t get paid. It’s when you don’t care anymore what number your boyfriend has on his paycheck. It’s when you don’t ask yourself anymore whether the tin can you’re eating from leaches Bisphenol A or not. It’s when you fall asleep because it’s dark and you’re tired from walking around all day long, rather than because you took a Valerian-Chamomille tea blend and decided to lay down because you have to get up early in the morning.
This is what I want. I want to face challenges in life bigger than merely forcing myself to do things I don’t really want to do. I want to be able to live entirely through passion. I don’t want to have to wonder whether something I did or said can be interpreted as offensive. I don’t want to have to force myself to go out and jog or to lift weights. I want to run because I heard a wolf howling, I want to feel my arms ache because I carried firewood. I want to be afraid of ghosts instead of aspartame, I want to be able to violate the law and get away with it. And if it’s too late for me, then I want the next generation to experience it.
I think back of people who complain that Derrick Jensen inspired them to drop out of college rather than becoming an engineer. It convinced me to take my feet off the gas pedal, to tone down the rhetoric. But I can’t play along. Adulthood is terribly boring. If you’re missing out on the big paycheck and the sexy intern who has to file your paperwork for you because you didn’t climb the corporate ladder, you’re not really missing out on anything. You’re missing out on a petty status struggle. That’s what adults do. They gossip about their neighbors, anxiously observe what price some house in their street is sold at, watch some TV and that’s it. Focus on having fun now, there is no future.
The people who have it good are the adults who somehow managed to avoid adulthood. There are middle-aged rock stars who get thrown out of the clubs they perform at. Some people inherit sufficient savings to do whatever they feel like. Some writers get away with writing completely ridiculous fiction that other people want to read for a living, Terence Mckenna could babble on about his mushroom trips and became world-famous. For most of us that doesn’t seem to be an option. The world needs more TPS reports than trip-reports.
I think I’m part of the last generation that has to go through this drudge. It sucks, but we’re doing it for a good reason. We’re digitizing all information on the Internet, so that when the electrical grid falls apart, you don’t have to fear libraries being used to rebuild everything. We’re creating underground traffic tunnels, so that you and your friends can light your torches and travel beneath the ground away from the marauding warbands above you. We’re chopping down the rainforest because- Alright, we don’t have a good reason for that. But we built the zoos, so that you can witness feral monkeys climbing through the trees once they escape their cages. The office towers we built were meant to serve for a network of ziplines you will use with your buddies to quickly travel around the city.
Some of you will die within hours, swept away in megatsunamis or coughing up blood. You’ll be so full of adrenalin that you won’t have time to realize you’re suffering. But some of you will have adventures. I remember a small boy, who was bashing his body against the rotten fence of his school, because he didn’t want to learn how to do math and wanted to travel on an endless journey with his classmates instead. That boy was me. Adulthood means learning to ignore what we intuitively know. The process is almost complete in me. In a few years I’ll be boring. I’ll be telling you about stocks to pick and supplements to take. Given enough time, the void consumes us all.
Does an egg have more in common with the adult bird it grows into, or with the other eggs in the nest? There’s a young boy out there somewhere who thinks the way I did, that young boy is more myself than I am. And one day, he won’t hurt his shoulder and head back to class. He’ll crush through and escape.