The Smarter You Are, The More Cynical You Are

Photo: Serge Bielanko
smarter you are

We all get stonier with age. We need to. It's the only way to capitalize on hard-earned wisdom.

I've been burned by life more than I even care to admit. There are times — a lot of times, if we're talking straight here — when I get so pissed off at the way so much of my life has gone down. 

I grew up with a deadbeat dad who disappeared when I was young. I've fixed my eyes on a thousand sky-high dreams only to fall straight into the gopher holes of artistic failure. Failed relationships and divorce? Check and check. 

I've worked my ass off at every job I've ever had, ever since I was a teenager scrubbing clumps of private dirt off of rich people's golf clubs at an exclusive country club. And I'm still a man whose money ship has never really come in. 

I could go on, straddling that fine line between calling it like I see it and pure bitching, but what's the point? Our time on Earth, our very lives, they're never supposed to be this or that. They're merely stories with a mind of their own.

Some think God is pulling the trigger on our days. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't, I have no clue. But I do know this much: When it comes to swaying the narrative of our own individual tale, there's a lot we can do about it. But there's so much more we can't — and that right there is enough to make a person feel jaded after a while. And being jaded sucks.

That's why I fight with myself all the time. I'm eye-deep in this everlasting battle to hold the hand of the classier bitterness known as cynicism.

Cynicism sleeps with wisdom. They're epic f*ck buddies with no strings attached and no walk of shame afterwards or awkward vibe when the shag is done. That's a beautiful thing. Being cynical means you've lived and learned. It indicates you aren't some idiot sheep whose brain has been so fried by living that you just go with the flow now.

Cynical people are usually sharp and curious. They might be slanted toward not believing much until they have real reason to believe it, but that's basically the secret to better evolution. Think about it. Cynicism is the subtle art of allowing your past to dictate your future by refusing to follow the perpetual army of dipshits off a lemming cliff. 

The big difference between being cynical and being jaded is that while cynicism comes with wisdom, jaded comes with discontentment — and that's a match made in deep-fried Hell.

Being jaded is a bubonic plague of inflated drama that rots a human heart in the worst possible ways. Because it means you've made up your mind with the sort of dangerous finality that being cynical doesn't ever require from you. 

Jaded people are shell-shocked by their perspectives and their experiences, even if they really haven't had a completely horrific life. The problem with jaded people is that they've never really tried that hard to not become jaded.

Because it's easier to let poison run its course. There's little work involved. You feel pain, you place blame; the energy output is minimal. Whereas, with cynical people, they're much more prone to call on their damaged past or their hardest years to influence their tool set and help them carve out a brand new (albeit cautious) perspective. 

For example, if a jaded person has been burnt by love, they're way more likely to say they don't believe in marriage or romance anymore.

"That sh*t is old fashioned," they claim. "Give me one-night stands and a slew of disposable partners and I'll be happy from now on." 

But cynical people who have experienced heartbreak refuse to give up on the idea of the magic. They  approach the idea of love smarter than they ever did before. They open their minds, take a deep look at what went wrong, and eventually move on with newfound wisdom.

Jaded lovers flirt with heartlessness. Cynical lovers flirt with mindfulness

Look, when you take a step back and seriously consider how much control you've ever truly had over all the sh*t that has ever happened to us, it's fairly humbling. 44 years into my bonkers-ass life, that's the perfect word: humbling.

The connotation alone lifts a leg, sprays a mist of dignity on this whole equation. Specifically, it allows me to 'fess up to a lot of regrets and f*ck-ups and not feel like eating a bullet.

I was born with an optimistic eye; we all were at one point. But how many people manage to hold onto even a sliver of the perspective we had when we kids, back when the world was the freshest place and even the most ginormous assh*le bully at the park couldn't bring us down?

We'd be fools to try and convince ourselves that we're supposed to remain that positive into adulthood. People who spend their lives spewing up positive memes all over your Facebook feed, they mean well, but they're trying to revive a dead heart.

We all get stonier with age. We need to. It's the only way to capitalize on hard-earned wisdom. Something blows up in our face or thrusts a sword through our heart and there's a fork in the proverbial road: Take a left and you end up jaded. But by doing that, you end up building a lot of walls. Walls around your spirit. Walls around the sparkle in your eye. Walls along the border to keep immigrants from ever getting within a thousand miles of your sad and angry ass. 

Good luck with that. Evolution stops with you.

But if you want to follow me and all the cynics who have paved the road ahead of us,  take a right, my friend. There will be trouble, no doubt. There will be times when nothing makes sense and you don't want to ward off the possibility of being jaded anymore. But we will. 

Because cynical people are smarter people. We know there's so much love and hope to believe in still.

We've just come to understand it ain't growing on trees.



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