Movember Update: I Have Unlocked “Rocked A Vest” Achievement

It’s official: vests rock!

I now look upon a collared shirt with no vest or no tie as somewhat lacking.  It’s like it lacks structure and form.

A collared shirt alone is a void. Like space without stars. Or an empty ice cream bucket.

Much like a face without a beard.

Or maybe just my face without a beard. Although now I’ve had chance to grow a moustache. With only half of the month completed, I can know call myself “moustachio’d”.

That is, if anyone can. (It largely depends on the word-status of “moustachio’d”..)

It’s been an interesting month to challenge myself. Growing a moustache. Regularly blogging about it. Learning acoustic guitar. Wearing a vest every Tuesday. And yesterday: hemming pants.

Now, it’s probably not the first time I hemmed pants. My mom is a great quilter/seamstress, and as a kid I learned to not be underfoot when she was quilting, or I’d be forced to do stitches. Granted, I didn’t really mind doing stitches, although I was never any good at it.

It’s somewhat encouraging, in my own weird little way, to know that I’m still not any good at it…

And almost iconically, there was a moment when I’m hemming the second leg of my pants when the a bulb illuminated, I finally “got” it, and the stitches turned out perfect.

Granted, I was almost done at that point. So the rest of the stitches are awful.

However, with the resolution of that skill, I am now perhaps The Perfect Bachelor: I can cook, I can clean, I can hem my own pants. I can iron clothing, but I just choose really not to. I read books (although not as much as I’d like), I’m learning to play the guitar, I can set up a web page and podcast.

I feel somewhat like I should have badges for each of these achievements.

I was a Cub Scout as a child, and Beaver before that. For that club, you earned achievements, badges which you sewed into your official shirt sleeves and possibly onto the sash. I was never a big badge-earner, and maybe part of me wants to over-achieve. (Well, most of me does, really.)

People worry and discuss the “gamification” of normal, modern life. The XBOX or PS3 achievements are often pointed at, or bonus points from your random club card. There is a worry that we are layering meaningless, artificial reward structures on top of the less important parts of life, distracting people from doing things of real importance because things of real importance are hard.

I can understand this point of view, but I might suggest that it started earlier, with things like Scout badges.

Why don’t we have adult Scout badges?

When I was a child, we rewarded people for achievements with a structure, giving people both a pathway to further achievement and a recognition and celebration and record of past achievements. After we leave childhood, we enter into post-secondary eduction, where the structures tend to weaken and dissolve.

Finally, in “adult” life, we are left without any structures. Or rather, the few things we measure success by (relationships, wealth, property, job advancement) are vague, variable and either unmeasurable or generally reflecting greedy measurements.

So, is there any wonder that, in a society which is becoming increasingly unwilling to relinquish the vaunted state of tween-hood, we are looking to have achievement structures?

I remember hearing that the “teenager” was a manufactured modern societal concept. Previously, you went from “childhood” to “adulthood”, without the luxurious time in which to adjust to hormonal changes and determine identity — at least, as far as the theory went.

Don't I look dashing?

Now, it seems to me that we have the extension of this time period, or at least of the post-teenager time, the so-called “tween time”. Since everyone has been encouraged — or even scare-mongered — into attending college or university, that is the new utopia.

Think about it: it is a period of freedom, but without the crushing responsibility of debt and regular duties. (That comes in the depression-ridden dark ages to follow.) So, people want the structure of youth, the freedom of tweenage years, and an escape from the mundane world where nothing is explicitly evaluated and valued (even artificially).

Can’t really blame people for wanting gamification, really..

For me, I’m satisfied with actual gaming. And I don’t mean “video gaming”, you young whippersnapper! I mean real gaming, with pen & paper and dice and rulebooks and — most importantly! — imagination..

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