Please Kill Me,
Prior to this life, as a degenerate member of the creative community, I worked the draining, dead-end job that artists fear. As the overnight supervisor of a local retail location (I don’t want to be sued) my tasks included: stocking shelves, tossing trash, basic math, and simple-minded physical activities (that have by now been relegated to machines #Overlords). I should note that I’m not complaining. Just providing context.
It wasn’t a bad gig and, at a whopping $12.21/hour (*cough*), I was able to cover most of my expenses, while languishing quietly and fretting debt and watching friends’ board the ‘on-ramp’ toward adulthood. Post-college. Pre-epiphany. It was right around the time that everyone was going nuts about the Lego-Movie.
I spent nearly three years there. I built relationships. Lost some. Navigated the politics of the American workspace. I even stopped complaining about how unfair life was. It was a necessary reality check. Victims aren’t known for their thick-skin and going through things doesn’t inherently make you a victim. I had to grow up. Either that or remain.
No one could make me do one or the other. In fact, many of us have been stuck in that cell of self-pity, doubt, and resentment. Go on, now. Admit it. It’s euphoric to hate things—particularly when your life feels like it’s in shambles.
So, I remained. Hating life. Hating you. Hating me. Then something happened.
One day, riding the train to work (because I’d lost my car to a ticket I couldn’t afford), I was on the train, listening to a podcast, staring out of the window, and damning everything that I saw. I’d made a game of it, you see. “What can I hate about [insert what’s in front of me]?” (Imagine “I Spy” or “Punch-Buggie” but with a sour loathing that could age someone by decades.)
It was cathartic and distracting. What I wanted.
We hit the tunnel (about half-way to work). Just as we did, the rain started and my thoughts moved on to hateful memories of other times that it’d rained. In the midst of it all, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the wet window. 24. Looking 40. Mumbling to myself about whether or not the alcohol on my breath was detectable. As trained, I turned on the hateful analysis. Who was to blame for this?
What resulted from the inquiry was a list of gripes that I had with me. The problem was, I’d been telling myself how impossible change was. Similarly, the task (the one I’m currently doing) seemed daunting and pointless. Clearly, I was misinformed. But it’s hard to grab diamonds out of quicksand. My dark and trepid soul wanted nothing to do with accountability.
Try as I did, I couldn’t shake the truth. I was to blame for my predicament. Maybe I wasn’t entirely at fault for getting there. But remaining there was 100000000% on me. For the following month or two, that’s where I placed a majority of my hatred and skepticism. On me. My beliefs. My decisions. My actions. My desires. My life.
As punishing as it was, I believe that’s what was needed to break me free from my psychological prison (the liquor-fueled dumbassery notwithstanding). My writing career began in honest that day. I started this blog not long after that.
I had to learn, as most of us do, to be accountable to myself. At a certain point, there’s no coach. There are no teachers. There are no guidelines. Little support. Fewer answers. More bullshit. Etc…
The ‘not-so-obvious’ secret of life is that beyond a certain age, there’s nothing but your own momentum. Without momentum, we become objects of our stagnancy. Catalysts for it. Defenders of it. Why? Because who wants to admit that they’ve made a miscalculation on a life-altering scale? No one. That’s who.
The good news is that there’s no one to blame or satisfy but the person in your reflection. Admittedly, there are things in life that we can’t control. However, there are also things that we can. Most of which, we can affect directly.
You’ve just got to be willing to steer.
Until Next Time,