Single White Nerd: Filling the Void
I swipe the debit card and my heart starts to pound. A light sheen of perspiration breaks out on my forehead. My breath comes in short gasps. If someone took a picture of my face, I’m guessing I’d see that my pupils would be dilated. I look like an addict who’s just scored a fix. And in a way I am.
I’ve been spinning out a bit since just before new years. Feeling restless, unmotivated, bored, wondering if this is going to be it. An unremarkable life lived unremarkably. Drifting rootlessly from one moment to the next, letting myself be carried along by a current of appointments and deadlines. Waking up at 3 AM, heart pounding, unable to move, I felt like a ship circling a vast whirlpool, moving closer to the void at the center. Like a fifteen-year-old on the verge of writing some truly terrible poetry.
Like an addict, I’ve been doing anything I can to fill the void. In the past few weeks, I’ve purchased a Blu-Ray Player (it streams movies on demand!), a surround sound bar (it’s loud!), a new cell phone (ok, I needed that one, but still!). Each time the card swipes, I get a rush. I’ve been trying other things, too: Reading books, exercise,making kale chips,engaging in copious acts of onanistic self-abuse, drinking. Whatever has a chance of getting the adrenaline flowing, of busting me out of the aimless malaise.
Let’s take a moment out of this pity party to acknowledge something: I’ve got it good. Job, friends, roof over my head. Objectively speaking, I have nothing to complain about. This feeling of dissatisfaction is ridiculous. It’s groundless. And I’m a whiny git just for talking about it.
And I probably shouldn’t talk about it. The more I focus on getting out of the aimless malaise, the deeper I sink. It’s like quicksand. Flinging attention at the quagmire, writhing about like a hyper five year old, just makes it grow. Looking at myself in the mirror and saying “OMG, Kass, you are in such a RUT,” that’s not useful.
So over the past week or so, I made a conscious decision to Get A Life. I went to two different circuses. One was great! One sucked! Hung out with friends. I drank a fruity drink out of a ginormous Tiki-bowl. I made lists of Stuff I Want To Do, both in the short term and long term. I talked to random people. And I’ll be damned if all that didn’t work.
As I’ve pulled out of the pit of existential angst, I’ve been thinking a bit about the cause of my malaise. It could be hormones, but that may be too easy. “Glib” as the great theologian Tom Cruise might say. Nah, I think the culprit may be complacency and success, a noted lack of adversity.
The internet tells me there’s an old saying that goes something like “when you have not enough to do, you do what you ought not to do.” Like buy electronics. Or surf porn. Or gaze at your navel feeling sorry for yourself. Passivity is the enemy and, partially thanks to the internet, I don’t think it’s ever been easier to be passive, to float along numbly in a sea of information and opinions
So as 2011 kicks into gear, it would appear that I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Basically: Do Stuff. Engage with the world, with other people, with art and nature and literature. It doesn’t even have to be a major effort. Even something as simple as taking a new road to work, learning to cook a new dish, or talking to someone you’ve never talked to before can wake up the passive brain and generate a sense of excitement. Here’s my belated new years resolution: when the panic strikes, I’ll engage instead of withdraw. Look outside for support and inspiration. Allow myself to feel the angst and move through it. Who knows, 2011 could be a good year. Heck, I’ve already gone to the circus. Twice.
Note: In the hours between starting and submitting this post, I purchased a new blue-tooth speaker for my car, a huge bag of coffee that I don’t need, and spent at least 45 minutes looking at naked people on the internet. Baby steps, friends, baby steps.