Death and Taxes: The Way the Game Changes

Originally published on 4/7/11 at The Only Podcast That Matters (theonlypodcast.com)

deathandtaxes

Everybody faces changes, or sometimes a lack thereof, in this life. We’re not happy when things change, and we’re often equally dismayed when they don’t. Changes vary in magnitude, and the time it takes for them to occur. For example, a seemingly insignificant, quick change lies in the way a pair of socks never feels the same the second time you put them on as they did upon first wear. Other circumstances evolve over the course of decades, and have much more impact on individuals and an economy at large. There was a time when a college degree gave you an advantage over the rest, but in the new millennium, it’s the equivalent of a high school diploma, or toilet paper, in a pinch.

There was a time when life was simpler. A naïve innocence carried you through your days. Metabolism was an unseen guardian that allowed you to eat whatever you wanted and still look the same.  The only thing that kept summer nights of barbecued food, manhunt and sparklers from being carefree were incessant attacks by mosquitoes. The anticipation of Christmas made you shiver with delight each year. “Death and taxes” was just something people said, it had no real meaning to you. As you grow older, the concept of mortality becomes more real, and The Man lunges at your pockets every step of the way.

What ever happened to the days when gas was 90 cents a gallon and you could fill up your tank for a ten-spot? And when did bespectacled basement-dwellers become arrogant and start referring to comic books as “graphic novels”? What makes bands that you’ve loved for years change formats, fixing something that isn’t broken under the guise of some new-found “maturity”? One day, that band will put out a steaming pile of garbage that will make you want to jump out of a moving vehicle <<cough cough, Brand New, cough cough>>.

Technology has made us more connected, and more disconnected at the same time. Communication from one end of the world to the other has become instant, and completely impersonal. We have the ability to hide behind monitors and keyboards, Internet-capable phones, as well as Facebook and email, without having to actually speak to each other. Gone are the days when you had to memorize phone numbers (or at least write them down), or ring your friends’ doorbells when you wanted to get a pickup game going.

The world hasn’t changed much, but the way we see it has. We can watch things going wrong in every corner of the earth, on repeat on 24-hour news channels, all in full HD. It’s hard to believe in even the most basic, inherent decency of people when something as common as shopping carts demand collateral for their use.

There are those out there who are very resistant to change. Fitting that bill are those who think that something as ridiculous as religion is an acceptable reason to spill blood. Also guilty of the same steadfast resistance to mental evolution are those establishments who haven’t realized that it’s 2011 and still don’t have a credit card machine, as well as girls who complain to their faithfully attentive male friends about the latest asshole to break their hearts. After the waterworks stop, that girl will fall for the next bad boy with tattoos and a penchant for drunken antics.

Sometimes your own experience and things you see and hear from others discourages you from making changes in your life. It is frighteningly easy to become comfortably uncomfortable in a rotten job, for fear of something new. It may be equally easy to stay in a relationship that is falling apart at the seams, for fear of being alone or starting over. Sometimes you don’t want to rock the boat, even when you know that choppy salt water is still a better option. We fear the unknown just as much as we fear the known, and there is apparently no happy medium.

Things will change, or they won’t. Some of it, we have control over, some of it, we don’t. You can stand there at the table and stay, or you can roll the dice for a new pair of shoes. Life is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

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