Sometimes, when I’m reading some opinion piece or blog, I’ll think, “God, that person is such an asshole.” Then I’ll pause and remember some point 5, 10, or 15 years ago when I might have said something very similar. Then I think, “Damn, I was a jerk back then.” I used to believe that once I settled into adulthood, this phenomenon would stop or at least slow down. Like hell. I think every year on my birthday, I should celebrate the death of the previous year’s asshole. Maybe this is called growth of character.
I imagine a lot of this stems from wanting to believe in the rightness of your own thinking. At any given point, you want to think that your beliefs and opinions are the right ones. Experience and cold hard reality may later cause you to revise those opinions. You then look back on your previous actions in a new light.
I suppose one can’t discount the arrogance of youth either. It’s very easy, when you are 18 or 20 years old, to think that you know all the answers. Older people “just don’t get it”, have been duped by the man, etc. Over time though, I have learned the value of experience. Thinking about something or reading books about it is no substitute for doing it. Running a game company is a good example. When I started my first company, the original Ronin Publishing, I had a few years of freelance writing under my belt and a lot of friends who were publishers and gave me advice. I thought I knew all about the game industry and how to run a successful game company. Now that I’ve done it for nearly ten years, I can look back and laugh. I had no earthly idea of what it would really be like. Things I believed in vehemently at the time have been shown by events to be completely delusional. Companies I used to criticize I see in a new light, as their decisions were informed by experience I lacked and in time proved to be the right ones. Conversely, companies I used to praise for “doing it right” have gone belly up or declined into insignificance.
I’m not sure why I’m thinking about this now. The New Year perhaps. Maybe later I’ll relate the story of how Kate complaining of snow-chilled hands led to me giving her a history lesson about the Russian Front in WW2 and Siberian ski troops.