This I believe—I believe in Nirvana. Not the Buddhist nirvana, but the opposite of that. Life is not about obtaining an “ineffable ultimate in which one attains complete wisdom,” but rather about “oh well, whatever, nevermind.”
The band Nirvana hit America in the 90’s with their grunge songs that truly were the anthem-of-a-generation, a generation of teens who were living an idyllic, apathetic life. Nirvana embodied the breaking with conformity and the proclamation of true teen spirit. Life was about the now, not the later. Although Nirvana is long gone now, I feel the need for a revival in teen apathy—but just about the future.
I’m a junior, seventeen years old and amidst the most significant part of my academic career. Every test I take, every essay I write, will influence my chances at getting into college. Every moment of leisure I’m forced to remind myself, “shouldn’t I be studying for the SAT right now?” Every basketball practice, as I’m coaching sixth graders in the game I love—the game that is my deepest passion—my academic subconscious thinks “damn, this will look good on my college app.” Everything I do from my idle hours to my beloved sport is smothered by the pestering need implanted in my brain to try and control my future. My immediate pleasures, my moments of bliss, are beams of light, and even with the most intense shine and liveliness, they cannot escape being sucked into the black hole void of high school society: living for the future.
There is a certain symmetry between a snowball that a child saves in a freezer for another snow-day and a fourth grade skill we all learn. Our teacher shows us cursive, this beautiful round snowball, a skill that “we’ll thank her for” in middle school. Well middle school comes around, and we look at our cursive snowball in the freezer and realize it’s shrinking; you have no use for this, now but maybe, in high school you will. You open the freezer in high school and the importance of cursive is still non-existent, and your cursive abilities are diminishing as rapidly as the snowball. By college, cursive is completely gone from your mind, just as the child’s snowball is completely gone from the freezer. Cursive diminished over those ten years from fourth grade to college, and the snowball diminished over those ten days after the snowfall. In both cases, all that’s left is a frustrated person questioning the validity of “maybe in the future.”
With only a few years left as a teen, I find myself asking, “you are only a teenager once, why waste it thinking about the future?” Thus, I believe in teen spirit, in living for the now. Because I question, why glorify the later? Because I question, when does now’s later become the now?