“My Grandfather Had a Life”

This essay will turn eight years old next week.  In the age of constant bombardment by media content, we’re lucky to remember anything specific from last week, but I think about this one essay all the time.  It is that important.

My title comes from this quote: “My grandfather was born in 1888 and he didn’t have a lifestyle. He didn’t need one: he had a life.”

Among the many other great parts:

I suspect that my grandfather’s life was real in a sense that my father’s life hasn’t quite been, and my life is not at all.
The crucial difference is my grandfather’s lack of self-consciousness, and that self-consciousness is a hallmark of the perpetual, infantilised adolescents we have all become, monsters of introspection hovering twitchily on the edge of self-obsession, occasionally aware that the life that exists only to be examined is barely manageable; barely, indeed, a life.

Note that the article ends with some very sane–and therefore radical–truths about adulthood.

Required reading.

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2 comments on ““My Grandfather Had a Life”

  1. It’s a brilliant essay; but in its sweeping condemnation of modern “adulthood”, it over-reaches. The author’s assertion, for example that dietary requirements symptomatic of infantilism overlooks the real reasons, both medical and ethical that one might be choosy about one’s diet. I imagine the author’s grandfather would have laughed at vegetarianism, for example. But given what we know about the environmental effects raising animals to eat them, I’d side with the “babies”.

    In 2014, I think much more could be said about the effects of social media on the persistence of childishness in young adults. The compulsion about one’s online persona is surely both a cause and effect of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else comes next.

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