Thoughts of the past

The other day, I decided to do some work on one of my pinball machines. I had to rebuild the mechanics of both flippers, and while it’s not technically difficult to do, it can be time consuming. I wasn’t feeling in the mood for music; I wanted to listen to an audiobook. I didn’t want to put on the current one I’m listening to, which is World War Z. I wanted something I knew well, well enough that I could tune it out for a few minutes if need be, and not worry about missing something. For this task, I chose probably my favorite audiobook, and maybe even my favorite book period. Ready Player One.

I’ve mentioned this book before, once when I first discovered it, and again when the real life contest was announced. I’ve probably listened to it half a dozen times at this point, and it doesn’t get old for me. Whenever I finish it, I have to resist the urge to start from the beginning again.

Anyways, I was listening to it in my basement,  while working on a pinball machine and surrounded by arcade games. That in and of itself had an awesomely synergistic effect. After all, arcade games are featured very heavily in the book. I had to resist the urge to quit what I was doing and go play Joust or Black Tiger. Also, I came to the realization of why else I really loved the book. It causes me to think about my childhood. My mind gets flooded with the memories of the summers I spent where I grew up, riding bikes, playing manhunt, hanging out and playing video games with other kids in the neighborhood. I remember the sounds of summer, the feeling of being outdoors all the time, and the carefree attitude I had. It’s almost as if the sun was brighter then, the colors surrounding me more vibrant than they are today. Maybe it’s just me romanticizing the good ol’ days a little too much, or maybe it’s how my young inexperienced mind processed the information at the time. Either way, it fills me with a complex combination of emotions. The joy of having great times with my neighborhood friends, the thrill of going to scout camp and doing all sorts of awesome shit, and the sadness that those days are far behind. It really did seem much simpler then, much more beautiful.

The world today just seems so overdone, so overly industrialized, so paranoid and locked down. I’d have to worry about my kids playing manhunt across other people’s yards, because they might get overly paranoid and either attack them or call the police to report me as an unfit parent. And if I tried doing this stuff with friends at MY age, I’d either get sued, locked up, or shot. I’m not entirely sure where it all went wrong, and I’m sad that it got to this point, mainly because my children won’t be able to have the same experiences. Sure, they’ll grow up in the technology age, with insane access to just about everything, but I don’t see that as a good thing. I think we’ve hit the point of excess, where we all have so much available to us that is totally devalues things. People now buy computers every 3 or 4 years. Most don’t fix them; when they break, a new one is purchased. So many consumer products are now designed to be disposable, and can’t be repaired. Geeks like me have access to literally thousands of video games, all at our fingertips, yet we often have difficulty choosing what to play. I’ve gone through this many times recently. There’s so much available to do, that it almost saddens me to think about it. I’m guessing that this is a reason why rich people and materialistic people tend to be a little miserable;  from what I have experienced, the excess in material leads to a shortage in its value to us.

Nowadays, we hang out in groups, and most of the time it devolves into us all staring at our phones, showing each other funny pictures we found online, or Facebooking each other while we sit in the same room. It’s actually a serious addiction, in my opinion, one that has awful effects. It always makes me feel disconnected from the other people in the room, even though we are technically hanging out in the real work, and still interacting. Still, I have difficulty not doing it, hence the addiction aspect. Just another reason why I think our technology is a severely double-edged sword. It enables me  to communicate and keep in touch with lots more people, but when I let myself delve too deep into its addictive nature, I  lose an aspect of social interaction whose absence feels like a small singularity in my chest.

I’m not sure if that will even make sense to anyone reading this, since we all know I’m not exactly a good writer. It’s just how I feel about the way things are these days. I miss the bliss of childhood sometimes, but only really the good parts. I’m not naïve of the fact that a large portion of my childhood was incredibly fucked up and horrible, both at home and with my peers. Still, I’d rather filter out the bullshit and focus on the good.

It’s because of all this that I’m beyond happy right now. We’re sending our son to summer camp, where he spends the whole day outside. He swims, plays sports, interacts with others, goes boating, and has a blissful time. He comes home every day filthy, exhausted, and happy. Still, it DOES cost a small fortune to send a kid to camp, but it’s worth it when I think that he’ll end up with the awesome memories like I do, and maybe someday he’ll remember them when he’s locked in a cubicle at a miserable job. Then, he can blog about it, and hopefully he’ll link this post so I actually get more than 12 hits in a day….hey, a guy can dream…

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