The “E” Word

cake-544725_960_720

Over the last decade or so, “entitlement” has become a popular political buzzword. As long as you have a pulse, no one has to tell you which parties are using that word. Entitlement and certain people’s perception of people with entitlement issues have become gasoline for socio-political argument-fires. Exactly what we need; another topic you can’t discuss at dinner parties.

Aside from the fact that most people don’t use the phrase “dinner parties” anymore, the perception of entitlement is strange. On one hand, people against entitlement think that you shouldn’t feel entitled to jobs or feelings of superiority because of your degrees, education etc. Except, those same people would argue like many other’s do, that your degree should have something to do with the jobs you hold because a degree or formal form of education denotes that you trained for something. Paradox much?

Sure, the people against entitlement have a point. There are some unsavory people out there who use their degree to look down on others. Also, some people are definitely underqualified for the jobs that they want, even with degrees. Furthermore, there are some degrees out there that have no credibility.

Where the opponents of supposed entitlement mentality are incorrect, is in their assumption that being demanding is a sin. Unfortunately, we live in a time where the job market requires that you must be demanding to some extent. If you have an education, you have to push and stand out so that you can use your education. Figuring out the job market and intrinsic desire for a great quality of life both require some entitlement.

After all, do you think the pundit who derides entitlement doesn’t have any? Really? Some millionaire, on television, on the most popular network, who fought to be there, definitely has some entitlement. Somewhere, deep down, that pundit along with the others believe that they deserve their success.

Is that not entitlement? Funny how the hand that points always has three more fingers pointing back than forward.

 

Advertisements

Another Year Down

balloons-388973_960_720

Birthday’s fly by once every year. And at least once every year, you should take it upon yourself to eat some birthday cake. Or you know, go crazy, have fun, let loose, whatever.

There’s nothing really strange or profound about birthdays anymore. At worst, they’re just another day. At their best, it’s another day but some cool shit happens. Both seem great. Even if that age is twenty-nine, or thirty, it probably won’t make a difference.

I’m not sure I understand the strange aura around turning thirty. Is it that, many people at thirty had a hope for a better life than they have? Does thirty signal and end of youth? Is it because thirty is considered middle-age despite how most people aren’t settled?

Maybe it’s all of those reasons. Perhaps a large part of the thirty-year-old mystique has to do with the high frequency with which super-young, wildly successful gorgeous people take up room in our headspace. Aspirationally, who wouldn’t want to be one of those people? For every shooting star of a celebrity, there is always a lonely, brilliant, curmudgeon like Napoleon.

In addition, they aren’t always as young as we think, and there are far more stories of failure than success. Ordinary doesn’t sell any newspapers, unfortunately. After all, celebrities can’t all be wonderful, wealthy, and well-adjusted, can they?

Comparing Yourself In Capital(ism)

leaves-79990_960_720

Capitalism occupies a strange space. Getting hung up on comparing yourself to other people near your age, in your social group, or in any way can lead to ruin. To some extent, thanks to human behavior, you will compare yourself to another person. One of the biggest strengths of a capitalistic society involves using that fact to inform economic policy.

In the U.S.A books about the self, which often rely on humanities desire to be introspective, command high sales figures. Ironically, these books warn against our habit of comparison. Should we be in the middle road of this strange piece of human behavior? Or if one monkey has a stick to gather bugs, shouldn’t the others have sticks to gather bugs with?

When you learn anything, you tend to compare yourself to someone who is better. After all, everything is easier to learn if you have an ideal to aspire to. The downfall of this is that some people are just naturals whom we can never live up to. Additionally, some of our heroes may be so far removed from our own personalities that emulating them could wind up being a  huge mistake.

When it comes down to regular life, the desire for independence, your own place, and the responsibilities associated with all of those things is great. But, everyone can’t be Jay-Z or even the neighbor with a six-figure job and a stable life. So how do you reconcile what you want with what you have? Humility is not worth the effort if you’re starving, and confidence makes easy bedfellows with arrogance when you’re wealthy.

We can’t have everything, but even necessities are difficult to obtain sometimes. Get all the necessities you can, and fight for the things you want. So far, that seems as good a plan as any.

 

Good Criminal Bad Criminal

police-2081039_960_720

Anyone who grows up with some privilege ends up learning some form of accepted morals. Somewhere in that set of morals and guidelines are clear-cut rules on good and evil. Because, in contrast to laws,  most rules and mores tend to be vague, there often are numerous sweeping generalizations made toward crime. But what if a life of crime is the only thing that can feed, clothe and shelter you?

Recently, I’ve been watching Better Call Saul, the spinoff to Breaking Bad. Both of the protagonists in these shows eventually settle into criminality that inevitably affords them their own American dreams. Of course, neither James McGill nor Walter White needs to support themselves with a life of crime.  James is adept at assessing and exploiting weaknesses to a point that it’s the easiest way for him to achieve his goals, while Walt is initially desperate to save himself from cancer and pay off his bills.

What if, much like James McGill, your strength comes in the form of finding and exploiting weaknesses. Much of what he gets up to and many of the things similar people would get up to are morally dubious. Alternatively, if those abilities are your calling, then why ignore them?

Given that Better Call Saul deals with lawyers, it isn’t lost on the viewers that there are tangible ways to find and exploit weaknesses that are legal and lucrative. Unfortunately, becoming an attorney is not possible for everyone. Furthermore, doing something that is legal but necessarily nefarious won’t stop your guilty conscience.

So what would you do if your abilities endear you to seedier parts of life, and what happens if that life riddles you with guilt? Do you sit quiet, give up on your potential, and live a regular life? Would that regular life make you happy? All you can do is assess your own life and give chase.

In the wise words of Richard Feynman, the first rule is that you must not fool yourself and that you are the easiest to fool. Good luck.

 

Another Life

park-bench-338429_960_720

I started reading The Great Gatsby a few days ago. A day before I started F. Scott FItzgerald’s opus, I finished reading The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. Out of pure coincidence, both novels are about life stories and lifestyles that are far different from my own. Both stories are great at delivering incite into microcosms of modern society that seem unbelievable. Gatsby digs into the workings of upper-class American society, and The Other Wes Moore informs the reader of the struggle of Americans in poverty.

You can’t really run away from the past. And much like a snowglobe, you can shake it up but you can’t jump into it and relive it. What’s done is done, you have let go and move on. Yet, as easy as those words are to write, they are definitely not easy to follow.

For one, the working world has a great way of reminding you of your checkered past. Forgiveness is in short supply when it comes to shady resumes. Furthermore, there is an inverse relationship between the people who see your shadow and the people who are able to forget it. Such is the brutality of our human brains and selfish hearts.

Both books also happen to show the dark side of the question, “If you had a chance would you take it?” Victory is sweet, but the sugar doesn’t last forever. Sometimes it won’t even taste like sugar. Perhaps it’s best, especially when looking back at our pasts with rose-colored glasses, to deny ourselves the reward and accept that with every little shake the snow globe becomes less alluring.

Life, after all, only goes one way.

On Dreaming

dandelion-463928_960_720

Every shining star is a dream that’s out of reach. Perhaps that’s why they’re so numerous. Then again, that line isn’t literal. Ha.

Shoot for the stars cause you might hit the moon. You hear that expression, and its variants all the time. No, this isn’t going to turn into a cynical George Carlin routine about the American Dream. But really, what do you do when your plans go awry?

As far as dreamers go, others often combat the dreamers by telling them to be realistic. Great. What if realism doesn’t pay the rent? Then were your ambitions any better or worse than settling?

Such is the dilemma of adulthood. On one hand, you, me, and everyone else on the planet would love to do something fulfilling. We all want a career we love, so to speak, and we all put a high cost on that career. “I don’t have that kind of money, education, talent, etc. to take the risk,” we say. Funny enough, someone is saying that same thing about the job you do have.

Somehow, adulthood culminates to being grateful for what you got, but also constantly aspiring for more. Maybe we all share the same hope that, through some miracle, those two worlds will unite and give us something special.

Hope moves us forward, and grace picks us up when we fall. Each and every time. Gotta try to keep both of those tanks full.

Communication Breakdown

 

wood-cube-473703_960_720

Communicating with one another, as with other aspects of life, has a great way of being more difficult than it needs to be. Part of that can be chalked up to our mental, and biological wiring. The devices we use to communicate also contribute to the confusion. People whom you must communicate with and the reasons why you must communicate with them are the biggest contributors to our confusion.

For around twenty-six years of my life, I believed that people who were in their twenties, thirties, and so on,  who didn’t feel like talking to their parents, brothers, or other relatives were immature. Is that a damning, and judgemental thought? Yeah, definitely. Is it correct? Rarely.

A handful of my acquaintances in their late twenties are having issues communicating with their parents. Some have always had these issues. For others, it’s a relatively new occurrence. One of my friends, who has the largest issue among my other friends, has tried everything. Hell, his parents and his brother have tried everything too. Thus far nothing has worked.

Having known the family for so long, it’s incredibly easy for me to see every side of the issue. His problems, along with my own, have led me to believe that sometimes nothing can be done.

Despite having raised you, it sometimes works out that parents and son/daughter end up being strangers to one another. Could be that, if your parents are divorced, biology and psychology are getting in the way. After all, you will have both parents’ genetics in your body. Rarely is it an even 50/50 split. So what can you do?

If constantly having a conversation doesn’t work, you will eventually stop. If two people must change in order to have a healthy relationship, and only one person changes, then why should they keep on changing? We all hate quitting, but sometimes it’s the only thing we can do. Defeat is not always acceptance and acceptance is not always defeat.