Memories I Never Had

It’s romantic to think about, isn't it? A time, not so long ago, when a man could ride out into the wild and lay claim to a piece of land. Food, water, and shelter being the only cause for worry. As time has passed, we have "developed" significantly into a system of bank statements, past-due notices, and "manufactured stress". Can you imagine explaining the intricacies of our modern age to a group of hunter-gatherers? After the initial shock of our powers over electricity and a short ceremony praising you to be a god I'm sure you'd be met with confusion... "Food is delivered to you, water flows from your shelter, and heat rises from its ground when the snow falls.. why do you seem so unhappy?"

Queue that manufactured stress. I have it on good authority that most, if not all, of our problems are man-made. Think of your top three daily stressors. How many of them come from nature? If you're not homeless, hungry, or thirsty then chances are none of them are natural and those of that are natural probably relate to money rendering them, once again, unnatural. What are my top 3 stressors? Hmm. Money is short, I don't know what I want to do when I get out of the military, and relationship's kind of suck. You could probably argue that those last two are natural, but I'll breakdown my counter argument below after I have my rant on money.

1 Timothy 6:10, KJV: "For the love of money is the root of all evil"

Money is probably on just about everyone's mind when it comes to stress. I happen to have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. I love money because having it seems to make life easier, I hate it because life shouldn't be this hard without it. Money makes the world go 'round these days and that really drives me crazy. The most insane part about it... it's not "real". Grab your wallet, pull out your debit card, and consider this. Every cent that you have access to is just a bunch of 1's and 0's in some Credit Union's server. If the power goes out *POOF*; you're poor. Yet people kill each other for it. People go hungry for not having it. Now currency, true currency, that's valuable. Skills, time, and love (to name a few) are an oxymoronic set of currencies which are both priceless and somehow marketable. Maybe that's why we don't assign them the value they deserve.

We get it; money is "important", which is why finding a job that's both fulfilling and profitable takes up most of my time. On one hand, I can go to college, get a fancy degree, get a job with a bunch of zeroes on the paycheck and live a life without a want for anything-- except time and potentially happiness. Ok, what's my other option? Skip the fancy degree and pursue something more fulfilling. An adventurer, humanitarian work, or maybe a traveling journalist-- but how will I make ends meet? At the end of the day, I don't think my problems picking a career truly relate to money. I think they, along with most of my problems, share a common enemy, too many damn choices. We live in what dubbed a "Swipe Society", a term I discovered during my exotic journey through a dangerous place called "Tinder". So many faces flying by (along with an ungodly amount of "I’m just here to see pictures of your dog" lines). This Swipe Society mentality has taught us that "there are other options, why worry about this one?". If your job is too hard, just quit. Having a hard time with your partner, replace them. Not good at something, try something else. We've seemingly thrown away our human resilience and it took our values with it. This topic always makes me think of Spartans. You will learn to fight, or you will die... Well, that simplifies the problem.

So, if I really have so many choices, why do I stress so much about relationships? Well, because I wasn't raised that way. I grew up in a small, country town where men still hold doors open for their dates, walk on the side closest to the road, and ask her dad permission to take her out. As a child I was taught that a relationship is hard work and shouldn't be thrown away when times get rough. When I was a boy, I told a girl I loved her and was so impressed with myself that I bragged about it to my grandma... Wasn't expecting that ass-chewing. She said "boy, you don't know the first thing about that kind of love. You made a promise to that girl that you won't keep-- I ain't raising a liar." Still, I was determined. I chased that girl all around town until it was time to ship off to bootcamp. Two months in I got that dreaded letter, "Dear John...". When I got home, I sat with my Grandpa, my Grandma had passed on a few years before, and I told him about that talk Grandma and I had. "I hate her [the girl], Grandpa, how could she do this to me?" That old man has never been one to rattle on, but he always got the point across. "You might hate her, but you never loved her, you'll be alright." I was shocked. Just had my 18-year-old heart broken and not a lick of sympathy from this man. Just when I was about to lay out an incredibly detailed retort, he put out his cigarette out and said. "Love isn't a word we use to get something we want. It's not a trap to coax someone into being yours forever. Love is a bond between your heart and your mind. 'I love you' means you always will regardless of what they chose to do with it. You didn't love that girl, you'll be alright". I was too dumb to see it then, but now I do. I look at our society and I think about what my grandparents taught me, and it makes me miss a time before I was born. Maybe even before they were born.

These days I find myself thinking more and more about a romanticized past. A time before money ruled the world. A time when fulfillment wasn't corrupted by societal pressures. A time when love was something to be celebrated, not just a means for another Taylor Swift song. I spend my days daydreaming about a simplistic oasis hidden in this world where one can live in such a society. Where 'your money's no good here' and life moves slow because you have nowhere to be. I saw hints of this in the Marine Corps. Money meant nothing in the field. Your job and the fulfillment of it was laid out in a detailed five paragraph order. Your payment? A simple "Good work" from your Team Leader. Lastly, a different kind of love. Your Marines came from all over the country, in some cases the world, but you'd do anything for them. You'd always have their back regardless of face, race, or life choices. Maybe that's why so many have a hard time getting out... they don't understand this world we live in. I can't say I do either. The fact is the world keeps on spinning, time keeps moving forward, and I keep looking back, back on memories I never had.



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