Day One – But First, Hubris

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[Revisited and Revised from its original state as published six years ago]

My name is Richard.

Some people shorten that to Rich, and I happily answer to that. When I was eight years old, I decided I wanted to be called Rich, and that stuck for at least ten years before circumstances led me to accept the Richard moniker again. My first boss, Jutta, who ran the German restaurant where I was first employed as a high school junior, would only call me Richard. She called me Richard in her calm voice that remained calm even when I had fucked something up in the kitchen. The chef, Helga, also called me Richard, but did so at a decibel level most often associated with tornado sirens and jet engines. Helga also seasoned her calls for my death, or castration, with lovely adjectives such as “fucking” or “dumbass” or “retarded” or many German words that I don’t know but can probably guess at their meaning. Eventually, as I was forced to mature and apply for other more serious positions, the Rich didn’t look as good as Richard on applications.

The same year I switched to Rich, I ran for public office for the first time. I ran for President of Field Day or something like that. My campaign slogan was “Vote for Rich because he’s Rich” and I gave pennies to prospective voters. Now, I could tell you that the meaning behind that slogan was actually more humble than outright bribery, but I would be lying. I could tell you that what I meant when I came up with that slogan was, essentially, Vote for me because I am me. I don’t remember if I capitalized “rich” or not, and frankly it does not matter. I can weave the tale as I will, and, in fact, I have. That slightly-twisted truth is now so deeply entrenched in my memory that it very often feels like fact to me. It was bribery, but that’s not an interesting story. I enjoy creating interesting stories – some people might call that lying, but I call it creative invention. I put it to you that I am no liar, just a man amused with the art of creative semi-truthing. What I won’t lie about is that my running mate, Suzanne, was a poor choice and probably made out of woefully inappropriate and misguided puppy love. What I also won’t lie about is that we lost, and I don’t remember to whom because I was devastated. What I also also won’t lie about is that my tendency for procrastination started during this campaign. I was to have written a speech, and I did not. I stood in front of the entire third grade with a sheet of paper with some random words I had scribbled and I made shit up on the fly. It was this disaster that sunk my campaign–the first unfortunate event in what would become a series leading to the eventual collapse of my social confidence.

My name is Richard, and have a slightly overactive imagination.

I am forty-one years old, give or take several days depending on your personal measurement of this planet’s passing through this particular star system. What’s that? I see. You did not realize that time is a matter of perspective. You have not been exposed to the idea that years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds, really have no meaning in an infinite universe. Come again? You do not believe the universe is infinite?

Oh dear.

My name is Richard, my age is mostly irrelevant, and I do not allow it to dictate my worth or potential.

There was a time, not too long ago considering the age of the planet, when human life expectancy was dismally low. A seventy-year-old man was a miracle, and adult life started at twelve. We have evolved. We have gained knowledge that allows us to extend our lives, to undo the damage time wreaks upon us, in a sense. You can live to be one hundred years old, or longer, if you’re lucky. Our medical advancements are making us resilient and persistently virile humans, and we are not finished yet. There is a problem with that, though. You anticipate that I am about to talk about population control, yes? Actually, I am going to talk about adulthood. We are doing things backwards. Life expectancy extends, but we force ourselves to grow up faster. We rush through actually gaining knowledge and experiencing the world in an attempt to discover who we really have the potential to be, and we eschew patience for the easily definable achievements, not the journey. Society presses the need for achievement on us with deadlines: graduate by eighteen, degree by twenty-two, marry by twenty-five, two kids by thirty, retire at sixty-five, die before one hundred. Numbers everywhere. Here is your number, welcome to the workplace, sit there, talk to these people, watch this television show, follow this team, do not deviate, fit in. We allow ourselves to be herded into expectations set by the society that needs us as predictable consumers, predictable numbers, as soon as possible. Instead of extending our time in an academic setting to maximize our knowledge and specializations, we shorten it by imposing milestones that act as not only status symbols, but rites of passage to higher levels of the social hierarchy. It persists because of the gauntlet syndrome–those that have run the gauntlet have no respect for those who haven’t, and when their gauntlet becomes obsolete, they rail against the change and become the impediment that delays progress. I honestly do not think anyone is fully equipped to realize their full potential until they are thirty. Some do it successfully, but I believe they could have done it better under a different system of expectations and milestones. As life expectancy extends, so should the time we spend learning and developing. Time is relative, the universe is infinite, you have the rest of your existence to experience and gain knowledge, but not to sit and tell yourself you know all you need to know. At least, that is how I approach life.

My name is Richard, and I am patient.

I enjoy writing fiction, and I honestly believe I am good at it. I mean, no one has really told me that I suck at it, and thousands have had the opportunity. My penchant for writing is not a talent, not a gift. I was not born at the intersection of some woven fabric of destiny to become a prolific and influential artist fated to change the world with the expression of my own personal cognition. I neither feel obligated nor impelled to write anything that you might find appealing or profound. I seek neither monetary compensation nor pity from you, the reader, who may or may not have the mental tuning to understand the universe as I see it. I am an absurdist, so if you get me all the time, that’s pretty fucking absurd.

For example, I intend to use the E8 Lie group as a model for the structure of the multiverse. I do not do this because I want Chris Pratt to star in a movie based on a minuscule collection of thoughts that may or may not have been my point. I allow myself to imagine these fictional realms because I gain knowledge through my own artistic freedom. I revel in building a literary universe and tying all my stories into a grand unified epic. I do it for me, but if you’d like to join me, I know some great stops along the way.

Hello. My name is Richard, and I am human, period.

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