Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Something Special

I Am Special

I have always thought of myself as someone special. Always.  Never any doubt.  Well, perhaps a very few fleeting moments that could be instantly dismissed as lacking validity. I have always thought of myself as someone who would do something amazing, achieve something way beyond the ordinary.  Most of my life, and I will be 68 in a month or so, has been spent waiting and looking for that special something to appear.

Am I disappointed that I am still not well known?  That I do not carry letters after my name? That people do not hang on my every word with respect, admiration and awe?  Or that I do not even have a fan base of any kind?  Not even a single person that I would think of as a friend?

No I am not disappointed.  In fact I revel in my anonymity, my reclusiveness, my strangeness, my uniqueness, my resilience, my self-reliance, my inner strength, my foresight, my openness to ideas, my ability to think, my acceptance, relief, joy in being different.

At the same time I rejoice (hate that word, but it seems to fit) in the opportunities that life has presented to me.  Opportunities for self expression, to excel in many (not all) of my endeavours and activities, to travel, to procreate, to mix with all sort of different folk, to appreciate the wonders of life and nature, to feel moments of despair, moments of elation, moments of drunken abandon, moments of serious thought and contemplation, moments of stillness, moments of hectic pressure, moments of fear.  I could go on.

Thinking on these things (my own specialness), my thoughts diverged along two separate lines.  Firstly, my own uniqueness and then my own place in time.

My Uniqueness

From an early age I have accepted that I am essentially different from other human beings. I don't mean that I am weird, dangerous, have some disability mental or physical, or that I am in any way to be avoided.  No, but I am unique.

I am so unique that I have never in my entire life found anyone that I could truly call a friend. Someone in whom I could confide.  Someone who thinks the way I do.  Someone with the same hopes, dreams, fears, expectations.  

Yes, I have had 'friends', someone to talk and mingle with, thrust together by circumstances for short periods of time.  Yes, I have been married, twice, and raised or partially raised six children, with all of the bonds, togetherness and affiliations that that entails.  

But, never, never, have I found that enduring closeness and bond of two people who have a similar expansive world view, a grounded sense of their place in the grand scheme of things based on a backdrop of historical perspective and a clear, informed view of how the future is likely to play out.  Perhaps that is hoping for too much.  I hope not.  It is not going to be easy to be an individual in the world of the future but at least a clear sense of self and direction will confer a better chance of survival to form community with like minded folk.  
People who may have been part of my life now or in the past, do not need to be alarmed or offended by these statements.  This is about my journey and self-analysis, not anyone else's.
While my own sense of who I am has not always been crystal clear, and recognising that we each grow and change over a lifetime, I have never felt comfortable socialising with those who, in my own words, dwell on the level of the mundane.  I make no apologies for that.  This is something that has dogged me for my whole life and is, I guess, the main reason for my lack of friends.  My choice.  I choose not to have them. 

It got to the stage that towards the end of my business career I would avoid work lunches, preferring to eat my home made sandwich, nuts and fruit at my desk than go out to a big feed with a pointlessly noisy and, to me, boring crowd of colleagues with whom I had nothing in common.  At team morning teas I could stand only a few minutes of bland, inconsequential conversation before returning to my work.  I had nothing to say to these people.  That didn't make me an outsider.  I was, I think, generally well liked and respected by all I came in contact with. They may well have thought me a little odd.  I was just different.

I like that.  Being different.  I can't say I have always liked it but in time I came to accept it. The change must have been a process as I can't put a date to it.   Accepting it, it was fine.  Even liberating. 

Don't be afraid to be different.  Don't be a Lemming.  The Lemmings, at certain  times (yes, I know it is a myth), all jump over a cliff together and perish.  No vision. No individuality. They just go with the crowd.

Enjoy your individuality, but base it on something solid.  It is no good being different if that makes you a loony, a cretin or in some other way self-destructive.  Individuality demands solidity.  A grounded base.
  • First get a sense of history around you.  You can't know where you are going if you don't know where you came from.  I am thinking I may put a potted history of mankind on my other blog one of these days that nicely explain the importance of this point.
  • Then lift yourself out of the mundane.  That is where all the Lemmings live. Spend some time alone, thinking about your situation and preparing for the future. Unplug the TV.  Compost the newspapers.  Stop allowing or needing yourself  to be entertained all the time.  Your new sense of history and a look at what is happening in the world right now will guide you to project out events a few years ahead so that you can adjust and be ready.

My Place In Time

I have a very clear picture of my place in time.  Like I said earlier, a knowledge of history will give you that. Without that knowledge, you can only see your life as a straight line. Cradle to grave.  No perspective.
I should advise readers that knowledge of history should not be tempered or coloured by racial, political or religious bias.  Remember that history is generally written by those in charge or victorious at the time, which can lead to any or all of those biases in individual particular accounts. There are few if any historical records that are immune from these influences. It is a general view of history we are looking for.  One that will enable us to see who we are and the forces shaping our tomorrows.
It came to me only tonight, which is why I am writing this account just now, that I am in fact special and it has all to do with 'now'.  In fact, all of my 'now's.  My entire life, beginning at the end of the Second World War, until today, and hopefully extending well into the innards of the Twenty First Century, makes me one of a very select group of human beings.  No other group of people has ever in the history of mankind on this planet and no other group born into the community of humanity since that time or at any future date, has or will or could have, the same perspective on the human condition as we pre-'baby boomers' have.

Let me say that this is a very important period in the long, at least 200,000 years, history of mankind on this planet and the much longer, ~5,000,000,000 years, history of our planet of residence, the Earth.  It is a privilege to be alive at this momentous time.  I hope to enjoy another couple of decades or so of healthy living in order to witness just how our future unfolds but if, for whatever reason, I do not have that long to remain here, then I have  already lived a fruitful life, longer than many of my contemporaries, longer than untold millions who were born later than myself and quite likely longer than a large part of the current world population that was born after me.

Let me also say that I expect to see huge (that word does not adequately convey the intended meaning), colossal, epoch marking, history defining, changes taking place in the near future.  Every facet of daily life that we know at this time will be affected.  Our definition of what is 'Normal' will be turned on its head.  In order to ensure continuity, humanity will have to, will actually be forced to:
  • unlearn much of what it has learned in the previous sixty years or so 
  • remember much that it has forgotten, or in the case of younger generations much of what it never knew 
  • face the future, a possibly perilous future, with a whole new outlook on life.

In the western or developed nations at least, the only group of people who will, or may, still have a grasp on the only essential field of knowledge that is going to be valuable as this situation unfolds, are those of my generation should they still be around and in full possession of their faculties.  We, I speak of pre-baby-boomers, will be the only folk in history, now or ever, who had the dual experience of pre- and post- technological revolution, pre- and post- globalization and pre- and post- consumer driven lifestyle conditions.  Even this life experience in my generation, if it still exists at all, will only be at a superficial level, less and less so as time progresses.  It will not be the ingrained knowledge of our parents who lived for most of their lives the old way and who struggle with the scope of massive changes they have witnessed in their later years and who will almost certainly have departed this life in the next few years anyway.

Even in the currently developing nations, things are quickly going the same way due to globalization and the desire to feed at the same trough that westeners have been feeding from for decades.  The old traditions are fast disappearing and being forgotten even in those nations but they should still have a more complete store of knowledge as to the old ways that they can draw on in time of need, if prevailing conditions allow for that possibility and if there is any way to go back to the conditions of earlier times.  That is a prospect that all humanity will eventually face, together.

All that I have just said is my reasoning behind my statement that I, and my generation, are in some way, special.  We will be the elders, the wise ones, the oracles, the know-ers, the thinkers, of the new civilisation on Earth, if in fact there is still an Earth civilisation at all.  We will not necessarily be the leaders and almost certainly will not be the do-ers in that society but, if it is to form and exist, we will be the essential community knowledge resource.

That is enough to digest for one post.  I will explain my reasoning behind why I believe this will be the case in a future post.

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