evannichols (evannichols) wrote,
evannichols
evannichols

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Birthday! Birthday! BIRTHDAY!

Today is my 50th birthday. I feel I should post something profound to commemorate this milestone. Perhaps an agglomeration of the Great Wisdom I’ve gained over five decades. When I try to write that, however, I flounder, merely coming up with some Handy Tips* and explanations to Young People how life was when I was young.**

So, I don’t know. I guess I’ll talk about some things that have been on my mind lately:

I sometimes wish I was better at choosing salad when there is cake available. That’s mostly metaphorical, but do you know what I mean? It’s just so easy to rationalize having the good-for-you thing later, and going for the desirable-but-not-as-beneficial thing now. I do know our brains are wired to favor the short-term benefit over the long-term gain, so overriding those impulses will always contain a degree of challenge.

And, of course, sometimes cake is just the thing.

Do you ever find yourself reaching for the shampoo bottle and then remembering that it’s been empty for a couple weeks? And you tell yourself that you’ll buy some more the very next time you’re at the store, but by the time you’ve dried yourself off and gotten dressed, you’ve forgotten all about shampoo? Yeah, me too.

One of the most difficult things I’ve struggled with is accepting that our political system is so vulnerable to lies and duplicity. It seems to me that if we could just have a reasonable, fact-based conversation, about 80% of the electorate would see the benefit of government functioning as a protector of the Common Good, and we could make some very positive changes. But the Political Noise Machine isn’t about reason or facts. It’s about getting votes. And humans are easily manipulated downward, toward hatred, fear, covetousness or complacency. (I also wish it was as easy to manipulate humans upward toward kindness, generosity and acceptance, but that seems much harder in the political arena.) Still, I believe we can achieve a progressive Utopia, where an energetic economy supports a healthy social safety net, and equality is a reality, not merely some unfulfilled ideal. I guess I’ll always be an optimist.

I’ve avoided revealing my atheism because I have worried about acceptance from others. I’ve come to realize that we live in an amazing universe, one I certainly don’t fully understand, but at the core of my being, I know that it is a non-magical one. Since so few people I know are of a like mind, I don’t go on about how there are no mystical entities guiding our lives, or how the universe wasn’t created by a consciousness for any particular plan, or how there is no afterlife, and therefore at death, everything just goes black.

Many people might find these thoughts depressing.

Fortunately, I do not. Sure, I love anthropomorphizing the Universe. I can and will beseech, cajole, bargain with or criticize it, but ultimately, I have to admit that it doesn’t really respond. Which is great, because it doesn’t mean that I’m doing it wrong, or that my tiny anxieties nullify a torrent of visualizations and affirmations, or that the Universe somehow is actually thwarting me. It’s just magnificently out there, doing what it does.

My biggest fear right now (aside from bears), is that I’ll never finish any novels before I die. While my comic and other writings have a devoted following (for which I am deeply grateful), I worry that as a writer, I won’t reach a larger audience, because I don’t have quite enough discipline to see things through to the end. Of course, I mostly worry about this in the middle of the night or when I’m commuting to work, when I’m not in a position to do much about it. And then by the time I get somewhere that I could, I’ve… oh yeah, I need to go buy some shampoo.

Anyway. I can deal with all of this later. Right now, it’s my 50th Birthday, and I’m going to go have some cake.

Be well, everyone, and thanks for reading!

* Plastic milk jugs can be cut into grain scoops! (Then all you have to do is find someone who actually needs a grain scoop!)

** Did you know that televisions stations used to stop broadcasting at night? They did! Really! They didn’t just fill the time between midnight and dawn with infomercials and ads for adult chat lines.
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