Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was a film that chronicled my 20s perfectly. It was such tough luck that it had to go up against BOTH the Expendables and Eat Pray Love on opening weekend. Now I have to buy up everything Scott Pilgrim from the video game, to the soundtrack, to five minutes on the Scott Pilgrim Suicide Prevention hotline to properly show my appreciation. Thanks a lot, movie-going public.
The story of Scott having to defeat seven evil exes to date his crush should feel familiar for anyone who has had to deal with relationship baggage. As I watched, all these memories came flooding back to me. Playing the Rifts RPG with my friends in rathole apartments, losing at Dance Dance Revolution in Lotteria Cafe, and my hilarious attempts at finding relationships at parties and nightclubs. You have all this energy that in another time would have been used for something real, like fighting a war and raising a family. Instead, you’re stuck burning it all off on sports, video games, or some other cheap distraction. The surreal video game tropes of Scott Pilgrim mirror that fact. Most nostalgic of all was the high pitched whine of self-deception. Trust me, with no job and a useless degree, you’ll tell yourself anything to get through the day.
So here I am at 30, looking back at the last of my adolescence, and I think, what’s different? What have I learned? I met my beautiful wife (thank god) so I don’t have to bother with nightclubs anymore. I can’t stay up until 4 am like I used to anyway. That’ll come around to haunt me once kids are in the picture. I learned that you could love your job, but there was no way it was going to love you back. People might toss you aside to maintain their self-image, but don’t take it personally. If you meet someone that doesn’t do that, hang on to them dearly. Action is a greater virtue than patience.
I’ve probably got dozens of these fortune-cookie aphorisms buried away in gut feelings and subtle hunches. That’s the funny thing about experience. We say we’re free and individual beings, but we still funnel ourselves down the same old paths of life bordered in by our fears and unanswered questions. If we can face down those situations with no easy answers, keep trying to face down the limits of our experience, we just might eventually get to the truth.