I love birthdays. Yeah, seeing the number tick upward isn’t all that exciting, but birthdays for me are the perfect time to stop, look back, side-to-side, then forward, with a focus on forward. It is the reset button that a person like me constantly craves. It’s the day where you hopefully find the balls to make a change, and do so with confidence fueled by the very real reminder that you only have one shot at this life. You should be dangerous on your birthday. Scare people. Worry people. Make them wonder how you’ll fuck with the status quo that is your life and your relationships. Each birthday should serve as a filter. Each year, you refine your life a little further, getting better every year. You are not getting older. You’re getting better. More refined. More individual.
Put most simply, everything in life is better if it is sprinkled (at a minimum) with a little bit of sex. Of course, it is human nature. Evolutionary biology. Or whatever the justification scientists and sociologists will apply. But in more simpler terms, there is not much in life that cannot be made more interesting with a hint of attraction, seduction, a glimpse or a glance, a passing smile or a double take. At some point, the powers that be decided all of this should be completely absent from those places where we unfortunately spend the most of our time – instead forcing them into the realm of late nights and emoticons.
Personally, I think that sprinkle of sex finds it way into many of things that I find most interesting in culture. Somewhere along the way, I feel like we have become more like the 50s and early 60s that our parents rebelled against. Political correctness and the how-ugly-can-I-make-myself hipster explosion seem to have diluted many of those opportunities for sexually charged anything: music, movies, fashion, literature, art, etc. Rock stars now bounce from actress to actress every year or so, rather than groupie to groupie every hour or so. Movies are Rated R for violence and drug use. Models never filled out. And poor athletes have tougher regulations than Wall Street, so the 86 Mets locker room will never happen again.
You can have your art house, black and white, hipstamatic music video with pastures and guys with beards and suspenders. I will take super models (stressing the ‘super’) strutting, looking good, smelling good, and oozing sex. With tans goddamn it. These days, we make advertising that engages consumers – asking them to vote for some lame essay that another lame consumer wrote. I will take :30 seconds of Cindy Crawford drinking Pepsi in a Lamborghini – simple and to the point. We don’t always need to see a perfect reflection of our often boring selves. We need something to aspire to. 9.5 out of 10 evolutionary biologists will agree: everything we do ladders up to our need to fit in and have sex. Collectively, we should all focus more on the sex – broadly speaking. It is much more fun and will make everyone much, much happier. If anything, maybe we will try harder to better ourselves. I predict we will see a shift back to the days of old. A new revolution for the new generation.
On the morning of my 35th birthday, I woke up and read a few pages of a biography. As I read with admiration for the author, I found myself wondering… when will I stop idolizing – for a lack of a better word – others and start being my own person, or seek inspiration from somewhere else? I am being naïve? Do we forever follow? Did my Dad, at age 55, still idolize Jack Nicholson in his 70s? Does someone massive like Bono still idolize someone like Lou Reed, or does that feeling or need go away at some point? When I was 10 years old, my walls were covered in posters of rock stars. At 35, I read the books and blogs of the creative and successful people I look up to – the grown-up, modern day equivalent. What’s next?
I heard a rather mind-blowing bit of insight the other day. Nothing new really, but the timeliness of it made an impact. The insight was that people over time start to seek the nostalgic as they grow older because it reminds them of a better time and place – and older isn’t necessarily living up to years past. Yeah, common knowledge right? But for me… I can look at my blog posts, facebook posts, music purchases, and movie references and see a massive turn for the nostalgic that coincides with two major events in my life: the passing of my father and demise of a relationship. While I always attributed this shift to a general lack of creativity out there, there was really a deeper more emotional reason. Glad to know it was just me and not everything else.
I have had a number of alarming conversations lately. Although I’ll always be the quiet one in a room of Type-A’s, when I do talk, I can usually make people very comfortable. I’ll calm the crazy. Quell the aggressive. Have something to get off your chest? That is where I come in. More than a few people have opened up to me lately about their struggles – particularly in relationships, either long-term or non-existent. Apparently, my terrible-on-paper track record makes me an expert? Obviously complex, it seems that identity is at the root of these issues – either losing it or feeling hopeless in finding it. Abundant confusion. I’m also faced with these struggles as I re-enter the dating world at a turtle’s pace. I obsess over it and want to help my friends. It’s my new mission.
There are entire sections of the bookstore with books about being, doing, accepting, loving, and improving YOU. I find this fascinating and even approve of the general logic. But have you ever stopped to think how a big part of who YOU are to the world is almost entirely out of your hands? Because it changes as you bounce between your various social circles. Among one set of friends, I’m the outgoing party-planner, while amongst another I’m the quiet guy who doesn’t say much. I am a corporate business guy in one circle and the creative guy in another. Rich and poor. Follower and leader. Cool and lame. Old and young. Good taste. No taste. I guess the most socially successful people are the ones that embrace the various roles they play in others’ lives and contribute accordingly.
It happened. The one thing that I’ve built my career on thus far, digital marketing, annoys the hell out of me. I say that as I’m blogging while refreshing Facebook and Twitter – the axis of digital marketing evil as far as I’m concerned. I was once obsessed with figuring out how to be the first to put certain technology to work to solve marketing challenges. Let’s enable consumers to upload videos. Let’s prove that CPG brand can leverage Myspace, then Facebook. Notice the problems with those statements? As I matured professionally, I started to lose interest in the latest technology and capabilities, instead obsessing over the basic human needs that technology and content were fulfilling (or in some cases exploiting). But people like the old version me are very important – I know a few that are invaluable.