When was the last time you did something and told yourself you should do this more often because you had fun doing it and then a year goes by and you do the thing again and tell yourself I really should do this more often and then a few more years go by and you are like, I can’t trust the word “really” anymore?
I have that feeling each time I cook. I tell myself I should do this again and later convince myself with, why waste time cooking and feel the burden that is happiness when I could do things that make me feel miserable so I feel productive so I feel like I am doing something useful with my life. (Ahem, hello virtual meetings.) Why burden myself with happiness when I am perfectly competent at feeling like shit.
I am embarrassed to admit this, but the generation that is my parents and their vintage are kinda cool. They make my life look like a joke. Each time I am around them, I see a happiness, love, and simplicity so absolute – so untouched by the human default of selfishness inherent to my generation – it pisses me off. Their selflessness bothers me because I know I can never get there. And here’s how I get over it: I read more than they do, so it’s a matter of time before I catch up. Like I said, a joke.
I find it tedious to be around people like me. My tribe. Because everyone’s talking vague, ambitious shit. And everyone’s so awkward it’s like watching cows frolicking. What connects us is one universal fact: having fun will make us lose focus. We like to preserve our edge.
This edge bit is has gone on for too long now. And more and more people are joining the cult. We are obsessed with our potential to a point of breakage.
It’s one thing to allow bad influences to enter your life and wreck it. But it’s a whole other suicide bomber of an effort to put off doing things that give you joy because you are afraid that it or even the thought of it will take away from your ability to needlessly, endlessly, and fraught-fully improve.
What exactly are we preserving our edge for? So we can reform ourselves to reform the world, all while feeling like crap all the time? The nature of our psyche is to ensure our greatest guilt is our own happiness.
Joy, as we know it now, has a start time and an end time. It’s what you get when you hypnotize a generation with productivity literature. Vacations and weekends are our only salvation from the desperate, hypnotic routine that is our life. The single most bad influence on your life is you.
Happiness now is less a feeling and more a goal. The goal more a means and less an end. The end more a state of panic and less a state of celebration. We preserve our edge while letting our center fall through.
I still remember falling into the I should do this more often hollow when I started writing. I should know better but, this time, I actually followed through. There was no making it a habit or any of that balderdash. And, let’s face it, I wasn’t writing because it made me happy. All it did was make me feel okay, the same feeling I had when I spent time with the older folk. And that seemed like a lot.
I have days when my writing becomes about something more: something of ambition, of purpose, of the edge. Of happiness. I loathe those days because the meaninglessness which makes writing possible is no more available to me. Instead what I have is yet another part of life where I can be discontent with who I am.
I don’t know what your okay is. But there’s a good chance you are putting put if off because it’s a mere flicker. You are after a light and you are afraid the flicker is a distraction. You avoid the stars for the dark. The light at the end of your higher human tunnel is a train you will get on only to desire the life of the stranger waving at you from the outside.
That’s what’s funny.