I find that this year will be a highly thoughtful one as I approach 30 years old in July. While the 20s were an innocuous threshold wherein my youth was seemingly supplemented, the 30 year boundary is more foreboding and unknown. Considering that the largest event to befall me in my 20s was marriage, turning 30 is a different kind of strange, upon the cusp of which I experienced the death of my grandmother and the birth of my first child. This quality of “oldness” is amusing, if not revelatory, as I’m beginning to understand the apathy that comes with age. Apathy, I should clarify, not existential in nature, but a profound world-weariness. I spent much of 2017 embroiled in intense discussions of politics and culture, only to be rewarded with estrangement and utter fatigue. The stereotype that “old people” are out of touch with contemporary trends and movements is not rooted in their indifference, but the sheer exhaustion in keeping up, which to me is conceding defeat, though I empathize.
The boomers that were once so idyllic and now are complacent enablers confirm my theories. All this begrudged talk of millennials and their fickle sentimentality is just a cover for an aging generation embittered over their lack of contribution to American “greatness.” Their fathers and mothers advocated for the rights of African Americans and women, while they stood idle and fucked, smoked, drank, and embraced nuclear fatalism.
Though I admit I am being unfair, as the greatest generation was duplicitous and rank with hypocrisy, espousing a Judeo-Christian aspect while cavorting in the shadows. When it comes to progress I’m a utilitarian. At least they did something, anything.
I’m finding this all out now, of course. As an author I’m expected to be present and social, create tribes and foster communal growth. But, truth be told, I’m fucking tired. I work 40 hours a week. So my efforts, while lackluster, are genuine enough, just limited by diminished fortitude.
I should come back to my first point on age, for sympathy’s sake. Social and cultural fatigue does afflict me whether I admit it or not. I especially notice this in the kind of music I listen to at the gym. In high school, regular trips to the local record store would yield a bevy of new artists every week. Even though the albums were old, produced in the 80s and 90s, I felt connected to a movement, emboldened by the genres I listened to. Today, I can count on one hand the artists from which I still actively anticipate albums. My workout routine revolves around a heavy dose of thrash metal and Viking metal, and I don’t see it changing for the foreseeable future. With comics, it’s similar. I’ve purchased whatever I can find that is pleasant to read. All my heroes have stopped writing, and new up-and-comers to replace them are limited in supply.
The cynicism however, of old age, of change, or progress, is illusory and seductive. It requires effort to supplant complacency and look for new things. Becoming irrelevant is the thing we all fear most, and we unwittingly accept it because the alternative of keeping in contact with the rallying zeitgeist can often be tiresome and difficult. It is my strong belief that knowledge and scholarship (even if popular) can stem the tide of inefficacy. And so I must hold strong to the mast and resist the siren call of whatever-the-fuck being “old” is.