When I die, if my New York Times obituary doesn’t read something ridiculously awesome, it will probably read that I was incapable of living in the moment. I blame it on living in Times Square, two blocks away from two movie theaters where I can see every new release that I want (and some that I don’t want). That and free online streaming TV shows give my 10-year-old sense of self-control way too many avenues to be nostalgic or wistful – and sometimes both at the same time. (How?)
Mind you, this is different than FOMO, which I guess the grown up media has just recently discovered as they vainly seek to quantify their kids’ social networking habits. Sure, if you let it, social media outlets just increase our want for something…else. But I’ve leveled up, so rather than wishing for someone else’s Instagram life, I’d rather just view MY OWN past through rose-tinted glasses or go sleep and dream about my future. My recent drugs of choice: movies and TV.
Just last weekend, I went to see Pacific Rim. Sure, talk of huge robots punching even huger monsters with help from some elbow rockets gets my own elbow joints ready to move (into my pocket for my credit card). But also, I read that the movie took place in Hong Kong and I was just as eager to take a brief sojourn back to my 2011 summer trip via a 60 foot screen (kind of like Pacific Rim‘s concept of “drift”). That trip was the last one before my first real job started and when I think back to Hong Kong now, I ignore the unbearable humidity and weird Chinatown smell but focus on the excitement of the unknown and my great moment of zen at a not-so-secret pier on the Harbor.
In a way, I’m just doing what people have done for centuries through books, fireside stories, or papyrus scrolls. I’m sure somewhere there is a cavemen drawing that imagines the artist’s life in a world without ice.
So, looking back on my job search, I realize that one reason it was so hard was that each interview gave me an opportunity to imagine a different world. Sometimes, the world seemed so much better. Sometimes, it was simply a simpler world, one where I wasn’t looking for a job all the time. And sometimes, I just wanted to return to a world where the future was unknown.