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"Two Paths? I Went Through the Bushes Instead"

The Soapbox is just about to help me close another chapter in my short life. It started off with 1995, the education. In 1995, I learned how important education was, and how important independent thinking was. This was high school, mind you, so I had a head start on most of the other kids. In 1996, I graduated from high school and started going to a university. I internalized what I had learned in the years before 1996. I recognized it, I felt it with the grasping fingers of my soul. I understood what I had learned. It wasn't just remembering facts out of textbooks -- it was using what I had learned to conceptualize the world I lived in.

1997 will hold a lot for me, I think. Sometime in 1997, I'll be set in a path at UT Austin, set in a major and minor. I'm learning so many things about computers and programming now that I'll have made myself marketable before some of my peers even know what "marketable" really means (not bad for a non-technical major like Latin, eh?). I think I will be spending the next stage of my life using what I've learned. I've already picked it up. I've already interpreted it. Now I should use it. Who knows how long this next stage will last. What's after that? I think I'll wait for it to come to me.

I'll use what I've learned so far to create things, although they'll be admittedly shallow -- I still have so much to learn. Later in my life, I'll look back and say how naive I was. I'll look back and wonder, well, if things could have been different... More about this in a second.

So you're wondering why I'm talking about this before New Year's. It would be more fitting next week, since it'll be the first article of the new year, right? I would have waited, but I think the topic of this week's article fits in perfectly with my progressing to the next stage of my life.

I am alienated from my generation. Not completely, mind you, but I'm worried that I'll lose all perspective of people my age completely. People my age go to big college parties on the weekends, have flings with those of the opposite sex, go paintballing or go to the mall or go to concerts. They just have fun. I do none of those things (although flings and paintball would be entertaining, but not necessarily at the same time at the same place ;)). Don't tell me those things aren't important -- I would probably enjoy doing those things just for the raw entertainment value. But I don't, and for various reasons, I can't.

I'm not like other teens. You know that already. Here I am, working on my web site which has its own domain name. I maintain access logs, documents, and CGI scripts for that site. I'm reading about how pointers refer to memory addresses with Java. I write poems and essays to purge myself of my emotions. I quote the greatest writers of all time. I'm not on the phone talking about how Brad said something to Gina who said something about Missy and Frank. I don't go to parties (they're just matchmaking events anyway). I don't drink. I don't smoke.

Keep in mind that, at this point, I'm still very in tune to my generation. I'm up with the latest trends and styles, I'm aware that Bush and Marilyn Manson both have new albums (gotta get them). I recognize the guests on Saturday Night Live. ;) I watch and play basketball, I play Quake, and I can name at least three VJs on MTV. This is not to belittle my generation, of course, as there is indeed a larger and more diverse population of young people these days.

One of the strange things about me is that I'm able to operate at several levels. I'm able to interact and just do goofy things with people my age at UT, but then I can go home and write essays which inspire myself (and others, I've heard). I can maintain intelligent discussions with professors and computer techies, yet I can talk about women with the guys. I'm adaptive -- I'm able to appear "normal" in just about any environment. The end result is that many people see me as just another person. They don't know I do what I do. And in all truth, they don't need to.

I don't want to end up like some older people I've seen. They're in their mid-twenties and they've been reading things by Voltaire and Nietzche. They don't identify with people of their generation -- in fact, they're cynical and they condemn their own generation for doing seemingly meaningless things. They look condescendingly at going to action movies and listening to popular music. They've taken it upon themselves to make themselves elite -- they deny themselves.

I like my generation. I respect it. I see the good in it, along with the bad. I'm eager to see what my generation can do with the world. To some degree, I wish I could interact with my age group. I yearn for it sometimes. Sometimes. Other times, I recognize the fact that I'm learning about wonderful things which have happened in the course of mankind, and I'm enjoying it. I'm not getting a grade for it. I'm just experiencing it.

My alienation with my generation has left me with a loss as far as relationships go. When I was younger, it was near impossible to hold intelligent discussions with most of the people my age. Even today, I interact with and respect far more older people than young people. However, as I get older, so will my generation, and then perhaps will I be able to meet people I respect. It has already begun to happen. The new friends I've met in one semester at UT are very insightful and intelligent, and I thoroughly enjoy their company. Perhaps a woman who is attractive and intelligent will come along soon, too.

So I suppose my mid-twenties are slated to be my emergence, or perhaps my reuniting with my generation. That may be the stage of my life I'll want to last forever. I can't wait for the future.

Don't get me wrong. I still love the present. So many things are happening everywhere, in science, in technology, in culture, in world relations, and so on. I keep tabs on all of these, a signal that I have begun the walk out of Plato's metaphorical cave, into the light. But deep down inside of me, there's that nagging feeling... What am I missing out on...? And will I ever degrade myself to the point where I don't care what I didn't experience (today's word is "eurisko") in my youth? Only time, both a barrier and a bridge, will tell.

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