0: Plain & Simple
People are simple. It doesn’t take much to figure them out. Once you strip away all of the outside layers and pretenses of individuality, what you have left is the one thing that most of us refuse to accept that we are: animals. And, like all animals, our needs are pretty basic.
Eat, sleep, defecate, repeat.
In fact, the one and only thing that sets us apart from every other mammal on this ball of dirt and water is our inherently rampant sense of curiosity. You see, unlike a squirrel or a cougar, humans – sometimes to our own detriment – just don’t know when to leave well enough alone. We are overcome by our innate desire to make sense of a world which is, at times, beyond the limits of our comprehension.
Make a list of any ten things. Without exception, each of those things you just listed will fall into one of two categories: things which humans have created, and things which humans have studied to the point of excess. That’s our niche. That’s where we fit into the grand scheme of things.
Humans obsess over the most infinitesimal minutia that the cosmos has to offer, ad nauseum. It’s just what we do. And the reason for it? The reason for it is just as simple as people themselves:
The truth is a powerful thing.
When you have it, you have the world at your fingertips. When it’s kept from you, that’s when the world has you at its mercy. That’s the long and short of it, anyway. Simply put, the more truths that a person can acquire over the course of a lifetime, the better the position they’ll find their self in once all is said and done.
I guess that what that means, exactly, is open to interpretation. Cue religion. Cue philosophy. Cue whatever your unsolicited opinion is on everything that I just said. Now, put all of that on the back burner. We’re not talking about those things right now.
Right now, we’re talking about what the truth is to me – and about what that means.
If we’re starting at the beginning, then there are two very important truths that I learned very early on in life:
Time moves forward.
Kids grow up.
These things are unavoidable. They are objective. And, barring a very bleak conversation which we are not going to have right now, there is no two ways about them.
But luckily, this is the point where my acceptance of the human affliction pays dividends.
You see, for a lot of kids my age, the idea of becoming an adult can be downright terrifying. It’s pretty much a minefield of unknowns, variables, and questions that nobody ever bothers to let you know that you should be asking. But, to me, the whole thing all falls right into the same pattern as everything else. Honestly, more than anything, it’s just a hassle – but not one which is insurmountable, given the right plan and the appropriate amount of determination.
I decided a long time ago – before I even really knew what it meant – the type of man who I would grow up to be. I decided that I wanted to be the kind of man who dives headfirst at the truth, and refuses to accept anything less than exactly that. Because, while I don’t put much stock in power, I refuse to ever be powerless again.
So, with that in mind, I’ve got no time to waste on things like fantasy and escapism – not when there’s so much for me to learn about the way that the real world really ticks; not when there’s a whole universe of knowledge ready and waiting for anyone who has enough sense to steer away from all the false flags and misdirects.
Besides – why would anybody waste their time on silly little fictions when reality has so much more to offer than any story ever could? Just the thought of it is ridiculous. In a very real way, I guess that’s kind of what brought me to this place today: Hemmingway High School’s College Fair.
Don’t say that I’ve never suffered for my ideals.
Even on a normal day, a high school gymnasium is usually the last place you’d catch me spending my free time. You’d think that would go double for when the entire place is packed to the gills with what basically boils down to a legion of overly-sanitized recruiter-types selling wolf tickets to a swarm of kids who are all unlucky enough to have either stars in their eyes or dread in their hearts. I have neither, though.
As I scan the room, I would be lying if I said that the sheer number of booths here wasn’t at least a little bit surprising. But I can deal with surprise. Surprise doesn’t always have to equal intimidation. Being caught off guard doesn’t always mean that you have no choice but to surrender your footing.
Let’s circle back to that thing I said about having a plan.
I walked in here today with a thousand-yard stare, because I came prepared with exactly that. I already know which types of schools to take a look at, and which ones to ignore on-sight. I already know exactly what the future has in store for me.
In a few months, I’ll graduate, and go off to college. It is what it is. Personally, I find the idea of holding knowledge for ransom to be outdated and pretentious, but the world works how the world works. Moaning about it won’t change that.
Once I’m there, I’ll apply for a realistic major, in a field that deals with the real world in no uncertain terms. Maybe that field will be history, or maybe it will be science. Who knows – maybe it will be something else, entirely. Right now, the “what” isn’t as important as the “how”.
All that really matters for now is that it will all just be one more step forward along my path. But there’s another step that comes first: I have to pick a school.
The reality of the situation is this: I have a perfect GPA (more than perfect if you count my AP courses). I could probably receive a fairly decent scholarship no matter which school I applied to. Honestly, though, I have no interest in applying to some fancy, prestigious university; I guess, not yet, anyway. The plan is to start small; most likely some no-name community school, where I’ll take a wide variety of courses before deciding what it is that I actually want to do with my life.
As we already covered, I can cross that bridge when I come to it. It can remain secondary until it isn’t.
Once all that’s behind me and I’ve made up my mind, I’ll do some research and pick out whichever school is best suited to help me climb my way to the top of whichever field I end up choosing. If that school happens to be one of those fancy universities, then fine.
While most of my classmates spend the day stargazing at big, flashy banners, and impressive statistics, I’ll just do my own thing – same as always. They’ll be looking at selling points. I’ll be looking at price tags. Like I said, simple.
At least, it was supposed to be.