Saturday, September 01, 2007

Assorted thoughts

Sometime ago I used YouTube to find soccer videos and such. As I was watching, I realized that these players play professionally, say, no more than 30 years. And yet, their whole career is compacted into a video lasting a few minutes.

More or less the same happens with people that play billiards. Countless years of practice to be able to add, perhaps, a 30 second clip per year to your "this was my life" video.

How disproportionally unfair. And yet, there it is.

And then, if you think that is unfair because the work of most of the best among us can be squished down to something that at first sight looks insignificant (even though it becomes significant when you consider the amount of effort it takes, and then it becomes insignificant again when you consider our place in the universe), what is left for people whose lives are rather mundane and pretty much equal to that of millions of others?

What about the guy that plays clarinet on the street? What about us, just software developers writing stuff in a blog like oh so many others? What about the richest CEO in the world today?

The thing is, my friend, that we will follow the native population we helped exterminate years ago. When you visit their ruins, and you notice that some hundreds of years ago thousands of people lived in those places, then it becomes obvious. Their names, their lives, their family relationships, their work, their values, their laughter, their pain, their innermost insights on what is this thing about being alive... all of that, together with their riches, their possessions and their own ideas about wealth and ownership... all of that, gone into the fog of the past to never come back. In the best of cases, there will be some video of us, some of our random thoughts, and our names. But that is it: it will become our 15 minute, Andy Warhol claim to fame YouTube clip.

Today I went to a gas station to put gas in the car, and there was this teenager with fake diamond earrings selling fancy looking chocolates. He greeted me in terms of sir, and then he explained he was selling these things to win a trip to Magic Mountain. I told him I did not have the least idea of what Magic Mountain was. He explained that it is an amusement park with rollercoasters that go really high and so on. I asked him if what it boiled down to was that I had to give him money so he could go to an amusement park. His answer was that he had been working really hard all summer, selling these things, so he could have a chance to win this trip. I told him that I would spend money to go to an amusement park myself before I'd spend money for him to go. He went away in silence.

A couple weeks ago, I was going back home really late and as I was in the parking lot came this lady in her fifties asking out loud "am I that ugly?". I pretended to ignore the first question because I thought she was drunk, but she insisted. I turned around. She explained that she had finally accepted to go out with this guy that had wanted to date her for two weeks, and that he had been groping the servers, taking pictures of himself with them, and pretty much being rude and ignoring her. Thus her question, "am I that ugly?". As if not being attractive was the reasonable cause for his behavior. I took a look. Fancy flat sandal type shoes, short skirt, nice looking business like shirt, a short blazer, and reasonable appearance for someone her age. I could have answered "well my friend you are not 20 years old, so there is a limit to how beautiful you can be", but it was not the point to answer her question literally. So I told her something else. I said, "There are many women who look beautiful but are dreadful as people. I wouldn't want to touch, say, Lindsay Lohan with a 100 foot pole, no matter how beautiful she might be because I know that as soon as she opens her mouth to say something I will want to cry. The issue here seems to be that this guy did not want to be with you for who you were. All this dude cares about is how you look. Why would you want to be with someone that does not appreciate you as a person? He just gave back two, three or whatever hours of your life as a present to you. Why don't you go and do something you really enjoy doing with the time you now have?". There was this awkward silence for about five seconds. She stared at me, frozen. I stood still as well. Then she turned around, took a couple steps, and said "Yes, why do I want to be with someone who doesn't respect me? Yes, why? Right! I will go do something I want to do!". She started walking around in circles, insisting, "Yes! I will do whatever I want!". Then, she finally made up her mind, and strongly strolling down towards the street, the last I knew of her were her repeating words: "I will do what I want to do!".

Death is at the end of the road for all of us. What are you going to do before you reach it?

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