I’m twenty-three, and already I feel like I’ve entered the portion of life (that is, the rest of my life) where everyone and everything I come into contact with resembles a striking degree something that I’ve already experienced. Whether this is because I have a hard time differentiating people, places and objects, or if this is something real and that happens to everyone, it’s worrisome in that I’m not sure if I am meeting new people and going to new places, or if I’m just running on a treadmill in front of a television screen without enough scenes.
Under the assumption that I am actually meeting new people, I am surprised. I would have expected that our genome allowed for infinite degrees of uniqueness among human beings. But, even people who don’t have exact replicas back home in the United States or elsewhere usually share a good portion of traits from other people. My friend from Hopkins is just like my brother, and some guy I met in a bar in Madrid was exactly like some guy I met in a club in London. Even my best friends are starting to seem more like people I used to know or met after them, as though growing up and getting older for me has meant blending of everyone and everything I know into a select number of prototypes. And while it’s interesting to explore reasons why people may have gathered some traits and not others based on who their parents are and where they grew up, it’s also bittersweet to feel a sense of eternal deja vu when meeting ‘new’ people.
The same thing has happened with cities and landscapes, food and clothing. I wish I would go somewhere and feel like this place isn’t just like that other place. I want to see something new that blows me away in the same way that I was astounded by the visuals and the weather the first time I travelled to a desert. I want to go to a restaurant and taste something as different as sushi tasted when I first tasted a California roll on the floor of a dorm room at Brown during summer college. I’m jealous of those people who haven’t left their own country or don’t own a television. I wish I grew up on the moon in a tent only eating noodles so that I could have the experience of being introduced to everything all over again, so that for just a little bit longer I wouldn’t be sensorily underwhelmed by everything I see.
Interestingly, I haven’t really lost any degree of amusement with life, despite never really running into anything hugely amusing. In fact, I feel like the more that the bounds of human existence and experience have been colored in, the more I appreciate life and every small thing I have the fortune of experiencing. A piece of toast on Sunday morning? The closest thing to heaven imaginable. Walking down the street toward school listening to a new song? Pure bliss. Beer tastes awesome, people are spectacular, art exhibits are moving. I feel like I’m constantly on a drug that makes every single experience on the planet more everything good and less everything bad. In essence:
I get the feeling that whatever has happened to me over the past couple of years won’t stop happening to me, and so I should get used to the feeling of being shocked only by how similar things are, not how different they can be. Having said that, that mere statement makes me wonder if it isn’t the amount of experiences that I’ve had that is making me feel underwhelmed, but instead my desire to extract from things what I know and dwell on it’s closeness to everything else I know rather than finding what I don’t know and feeling all tingly inside. I find that as people age they enjoy noticing things that make them feel comfortable and safe even if they aren’t. The older generation, or, the age group containing people more than thirty years my senior, seem to prefer ordering things they’ve already had off of restaurant menus, going on trips to places they’ve been before, hanging out with the same friends — only extending their lives incrementally into worlds adjacent to their own. And, the older the old person, the more they appreciate the little things in life, including but not limited to toast on Sunday mornings, beer and art exhibits.
This little journey through my brain has been a pretty valuable one, as I’ve just learned that I may be aging (albeit only mentally, I hope) more quickly than I’m supposed to be. Or even worse, that all people age earlier than anyone ever expected. To combat this unpleasant revelation, I’m going to make some attempts to see the differences in things as opposed to their similarities, with an alternative/backup plan being respecting the similarities in everything I see and potentially switching my future profession to children’s book writer, abstract artist, or astronaut.