The world is an ever changing place. The speed of that change has accelerated rapidly over the past 10 years. We do not even know to what extent such changes have had or will have on us. Technologies and ideas are dropped on us and we have to work it out as we go along. Smart phones, Tinder, the internet, connectivity, more accessible travel, Ideologies, ideas, information access. Each of these has had a profound impact on us as a species.
My Grandfather used to recall his childhood and teenage years growing up in Britain after world war 2. Empire day was a day of national celebration. The British Empire was still intact (just) and to be a member of the British tribe was something to be celebrated. Then the 60’s happened. The World was turned on it’s head in many ways. He was the last generation to see his country, the narratives, the morals and most the western world do a complete 180. Over night shame replaced pride. Traditions and roots had lost their value. The shallowness of ‘Free Love’ reigned supreme.
There are many MANY examples of those who’s worlds are considerably altered beyond their recognition. Another great example I heard in a Podcast the other day, Jocko Willink’s podcast covering Chest Puller JR’s book “Fortunate Son”. His father had served in WW2 and was by all accounts a living legend. The veterans of WW2 were revered but for JR and the rest of his generation who served in Vietnam, they would a have a different experience. Vietnam was a different War, when they returned they found a different homecoming. No marches, no parades, no thank you. The vets were scorned and ignored for a long time.
You must adapt to new environments. It poses a rough dichotomy, on one hand you cannot be swept aside by the lunacy of the times but you can’t always appear to be against it in a way that labels you an enemy or an outcast. A strong foundation should give you eyes and a compass to maneuver throughout life. You must adapt to succeed in what ever situation you land in. You can influence the environment around you but you can’t change events that are much bigger than yourself. You have to ride it in a way that allows you not only to survive but thrive. (This is not say be the most efficient killer for an authoritarian state, but don’t operate in such a way that puts yourself on a firing line). Once I really understood this I became a lot calmer. Worry about what you can change, not what you can’t.
“You can’t stop whats coming”
Your personality is layered. At the bottom you have to be strong at the core (spiritually for lack of a better work). While there can certainly be an entire book written on this, you need a strong foundation built on accepting life in all its catastrophes and its magnificence. On the next layer up you must understand human nature which is also to say to understand yourself. It is here that you understand Masculinity, femininity, death, life, human emotions and drives.
Within the layers you must make your perceptions as truthful as possible. If what you believe in is deceptive or overly dogmatic then sooner or later reality will come crashing down. The correction can be small or gigantic depending on your congruence with the realities of life. The 3rd layers requires your navigation. You must be sharp as a whippet. I love this old biblical saying;
“I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and appear as innocent as doves.”
I am a personal fan of Cormac McCarthy the author who wrote ‘The Road’, ‘No Country for Old Men’ and a few other great works. All his books share a common theme, the characters are caught in situation that is much bigger than themselves. Sooner or later it is time to come to grips with the reality of their situation.
In this scene from ‘No Country for Old Men’, the sheriff (played Tommy lee Jones) laments that he cannot control events that are happening around him. He feels like a failure compared to his forebears. His uncle consoles him that that has always been the case. You can’t stop whats coming. Its a dark yet adapt illustration;
Don’t be embittered by this, make the best of all the possible opportunities you can grab. If your always aiming up you never know how far you could go or what you could become. You may even be able to create a lot of good along your path.
The world is going to change more than you can imagine. The changes are all indifferent to us. You must become strong at your core and have an understanding of human nature in order to navigate life’s turbulence. You may be swept up like a small fish in a big wave but always remember who you are and what you are really about. Whether they come in crashing or whether they gently pass your toes, the changes will continue to come.