Listening to people whine about how stressed they are is staring to get old. I know life in 2005 is really tough…
– automobiles to get you anywhere you want
– microwaves, restaurants, Hot Pockets so you don’t have to actually cook
– money for anyone who wants it in the most prosperous country in the history of man
– information, mobile communication, multimedia, niche porn, etc… basically whatever you could possibly want
– gyms so you can work your fat ass on the human equivalent of the hamster wheel, simulating caveman hunting activity when man had to actually do more than call the pizza place down the street
“I had to stay at work an extra hour and come home and warm up some chicken nuggets. I missed The OC, omg. I’m so busy I hate life!”
“I can’t handle this house mortgage and Mercedes Benz car payment. Insurance is so high it’s just not fair! I can’t order a $13 Grey Goose Martini this week :cry:”
Maybe you just have need to move back in with your parents. Next time you’re about to say “I’m stressed”, think about saying the truth instead: “I’m unable to handle life.” Would you still say it?
If you put most people in a time machine back to 1900, they’d die within two weeks.
I was surprised to read a smart quote by an 18 year old graffiti artist that you may know as Borf:
Borf often finished his graffiti early in the morning, just in time to see a spectacle he despises — rush hour. “People all heading downtown,” he said. “Like, it’s ridiculous if you think about it. Like, Orwellian-ridiculous. And they do this with so-called free will.”
It is ridiculous (though maybe not as ridiculous as choosing property defacement as your means of enlightening the masses). Being raised in the American middle class leaves little room for a creative life. You go to high school, sit through student council meetings, attend college, have unprotected sex, and then eventually get a real job, until your body starts giving up on you in your sixties. A wise Turkish man once told me, “In America, you are supposed to work hard in your best years to have money for when you are old and half-dead.” He didn’t really understand why people accepted this model of living – the “American dream” – but it’s something that we all have accepted.
Columnist Mark Morford has it right:
Work hard and the world respects you. Work hard and you can have anything you want. Work really extra super hard and do nothing else but work and ignore your family and spend 14 hours a day at the office and make 300 grand a year that you never have time to spend, sublimate your soul to the corporate machine and enjoy a profound drinking problem and sporadic impotence and a nice 8BR mini-mansion you never spend any time in, and you and your shiny BMW 740i will get into heaven.
Is this guy jealous of successful people or does he see something that average people can not understand? One of my favorite bartenders recently left the city to be a bartender in Greece, living one day at a time with uncertainty in an unfamiliar place. I asked her why she was doing it and she just shrugged, “You only get one life.” It’s a romantic ideal that I’m sure many of us dream about, but one that none of us will actually do. Our molded brains start asking the obvious, practical questions: “How is she going to save for retirement? What is she going to do when she gets old and can’t bartend?” A person who doesn’t know what she’s doing in three months is unlikely to plan for old age, and while that may be crazy and stupid, it is what separates us from them.
As I get older I’m finding it impossible to shrug off my parents wisdom as mere old-people talk. Their life will mirror your life in some way, for after all they are you. I asked my dad what is point of our existence, what should I be doing to lead a fulfilling life, and how work fits into it all. He simply said, “Just enjoy the time you’re here.” It’s hard to really answer how much I’m enjoying this very moment as I sit in front of a computer screen, but that’s a question that I’m sure everyone can ask themselves.
Two weeks ago a friend of mine got into a jet-ski accident. The most memorable part of the accident wasn’t the actual collision, he said, but the “moment of clarity” he experienced after he resurfaced. He realized that all the things that we stress about every day really isn’t that important, and that there are only a couple things in life that matter. I have artistically reproduced that moment:
From a scientific viewpoint, we’re on this Earth to procreate and for no other reason. The meaning that people latch onto to make their life livable is just something that we humans do to pass the time. Your life is not even a blink in the cosmic scale of things.
There are two kinds of depression:
1. Internal depression. This is where you hate yourself. You don’t like what you see in the mirror. Your personality suffers because of negative self-talk, complaining, and whining. You are unable to relax and be alone with your mind for even a couple of minutes, constantly needing distractions such as alcohol and television. People are like this because of their parents.
2. External depression. You are happy with yourself (sometimes too happy) but you are stuck in an environment that brings you down. You have nothing to look forward to when you get up in the morning except another day of existence. You go to public places and sit there, reflecting, wondering aloud, “Is this it?” as people give you weird looks. You see things as they are and wonder why other people are so slow to pick up on the obvious meanings that lie beneath the surface.
I have the second type of depression. I’m grateful for life and I thank my parents for producing a man with alright looks and a sense of humor, but I go through the motions every day looking for meaning. DJ’ing. Martial Arts. Motorcycling. Amateur bartending. Being a local internet celebrity geek. Writing. Promoting. Sport dating. Cooking. Science nerding. All these things are fun and makes me a well-rounded person, but they’re just distractions. By now everyone should know that true happiness with life can only come from within, but what if you feel like you already are very close to inner happiness, where you have completely accepted who you are?
What is there left for you to accomplish other than living the “American dream” of making a lot of money, buying a McMansion, and accumulating material possessions? What a waste of human life to work in a single town for many years only to get something bigger and better because big business force-fed it to you through advertising. “Here’s your new $800,000 luxury mansion, where you get to know your neighbor really well since he’s only three feet away from you.”
Are you destined to die in the same country or town that your living in right now? Out of anywhere in the world, is this where you will be happiest? It’s like two people finding their “soul mate” in their high school… wow what are the odds that out of 6 billion people in this world your soul mate lives in the same boring town as you.
Maybe the answer for me is that I need to continue my personal journey in other countries. But if everyone in those other countries are trying to come here, what does that say about my proposed solution? One positive thing about going through a mid-life crisis at 26 is that you don’t have obligations which prevent you from making big changes. Imagine traveling down the wrong road for decades to realize you made a mistake and are too old to turn back.
Whatever your dream goal is, someone else has it and doesn’t value it at all. Unless you are working on something that fulfills within, get ready for the biggest anti-climax of your life.