punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

What lies beyond the graph paper

A thought that has started to creep into my brain.

I don't usually quote Star Trek, but there are so many allegories among my readers, that it's hard not to. Anyone remember this quote?

"I saw V'gers planet, a planet populated by living machines. Unbelievable technology. But with all of its pure logic, V'ger is barren; cold, no history, no beauty. I should have known [...] this simple feeling is beyond V'ger's comprehension. No meaning, no hope, no answers... it is asking questions, 'Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?' I weep for V'ger as I would a brother as I was when I came aboard, so is V'ger now, empty incomplete and searching, logic and knowledge are not enough."

I'm 37. I work in IT. I like my work, but what comes after IT? Where do I see myself in 5 years? Tied to a desk, surrounded by tomes of how-to, memorizing data and skills that will be worthless at the end of a decade? When I used to draw D&D maps, I always wondered (in jest) what happened just beyond the graph paper. I pictured some poor adventurers, in "D1: Descent into the Depths of the Earth," coming across some generic cave encounter, only to find instead of a bunch of Drow or crazed Kuo-toans, a vast expanse of light blue lines criss-crossing some square room that goes off to a white horizon. "We're off the map!" on of my players might have said.

Part of this is the realization that in a little more than 2 years, CR will be 18. I can't tell you what the future will bring. Hell, I didn't even know we'd have a roommate again until just a few weeks ago. My life is not a straight and narrow path, but a convoluted series of twists and turns that tends to make me spoiled because often I don't have to do anything but sit and watch. But I'd like to think there is a greater purpose, and lately, I have been... "communing" with that concept more than ever.

Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?

One of the things I learned at AOL is you can't sit still. At AOL, if you stayed in one place too long, you'd get laid off or fired. Life is sort of the same way. Sometimes you have to plan and take action before action is made FOR you, and often without the best of results you would have normally wished for. Either you take the leap or you are pushed. I have seen a lot of people "settle" and almost vanish from my life like people who jumped ship and stayed ashore. I barely have time to wave goodbye before they are out of sight, and part of an ever-blurred tapestry of memory where individual elements are lost in a sea of pattern collections. I find I say, "I had a friend who..." and not remember who that friend was. Soon, my life will be like that. "I knew a guy once," one of my friend's children will say. "Odd sort of fellow. Fat, with glasses and a wispy beard. Very loud. I can't recall who he was, might have been a relative or something. But he once told me this..."

Sometimes you have to face you're not immortal. I have been "lucky" in the fact I have faced my own death more than once. I have also experienced a HELL of a lot of death and dying for someone my age who hasn't been involved in a war or plague or something. And I fully know, deep in my gut, my day will come. I will die. No more Internet, no science fiction conventions, and no more writing. My family will go on. CR will have children, grandchildren, and die. His grandchildren will die. Maybe my name might come up in some Mormon database in 2168, and probably all I'll be is a name and a set of dates. "You have a great-great-great-great grandfather who was born in 1968 in Cyprus. I suspect he's an immigrant. Maybe Greek?" They won't know I was American, and may barely know of our Swedish roots. My blog will be long erased by some magnetic storage mishap, and my body, tattoo and all, reduced to dust.

Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?

Let's look at the people who we remember from 200 years ago. 1806. Lewis and Clarke, westerners who found the other side of Pacific Ocean for the first time, and Napoleon who was the Emperor of the French. We remember them because they did a hell of a lot of memorable stuff that people wrote down. I doubt I'll ever reach such fame, and I find comfort that I will be in good company as millions upon millions of the anonymous folk time washes clean from the collective memory. Maybe in 1855, there was this really fun guy everyone liked, who said ribald things, and while he seemed a bit odd, he was fun to have around, and when he died, there was a great assemblage of friends and family who all agreed he was a good soul whom no one would forget. By 1955, only his name was carried forward, and only because someone was named after his grandfather, who was named after the original guy.

This put a lot of problems in perspective. Almost everything I worry about now, or in the past, or for the future... worthless. I fully realize when I worry I worry alone. I worry so much, I worry about worrying, but experience has been a good crutch to get over things more quickly than before. A sort of handy, "You've been through this before, it's okay, you go on... and if you don't, it won't matter to anybody so why should it worry you so much?" Because if all I do is worry...

Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?

So what does this entry mean? Am I depressed? No. Am I going to suffer a mid-life crisis and buy a sports car and sleep with barely legal bimbos? No. It means that I have been thinking, and I think I am moving on to the next step, and I feel pretty good about it. This is why I got my ear pierced and the tattoo. Not to shock or be all dope and fly and poppin' fresh. I got it for me. To help me find what lies beyond that graph paper: Something *I* wrote. As it always was as a "Dungeon Master," nobody had any fun unless I made it up.

Good things are to come.
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