Embracing Nihilistic Beauty

Over the past few months, I’ve had this increasing flirtation with the concept of nihilism. It’s especially noticeable when I’m angry or depressed. “Nothing means anything, everyone is stupid, why do we even bother” and all that bullshit. It’s an exhausting feeling to have, and definitely more exhausting for the people close to me to be around.

But this morning I awoke with a new perspective. What’s so wrong with nihilism? Things don’t have to mean anything except exactly what they are. There doesn’t have to be a grander purpose to life’s trials, there doesn’t have to be some great plan set up by the universe, there’s nothing to say that anything that happens has any other reasoning than what we put into it. In this way, nihilism isn’t negative. It can be positive. It can release us from the burden of trying to make every situation, every encounter, every word have some deeper meaning.

Because the deeper meaning may be this: everything is meaningless, so enjoy every pointless moment. I can use it to find a way to more fully experience everything. I can have meaningful conversations with my people because they have meaning in that exact moment. Maybe I or the person with whom I’m having an experience will interpolate some meaning into it, maybe not. But the moment itself means nothing.

It all means nothing except this: you just had a moment and it was beautiful. Even the fights, even the stress. It’s all beautiful. Because experiences, and how we feel about those experiences, are what being a slightly intelligent animal on this planet is about. That’s it. We see, we hear, we feel, we taste. We converse, we think, we care. We engage with other animals to create our moments and find personal meanings to those moments. And that’s all.

Everything is meaningless. Realizing that can be a beautiful relief.

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Buzz Feed Me

I’m one of the annoying Facebook friends who takes quizzes a lot. Fortunately for my friends, I don’t post the results as often as I receive them. But I do get a bit of entertainment from taking the quizzes and seeing what the quiz makers do with my choice of answers.

Mostly, the results are bullshit and overly generic. Duh. But I’ve noticed something when taking some. My selections from the multiple choice possibilities reveals way more about me than the fact that I’m apparently an ace of hearts. Whatever that truly means, I’ll never know. Or care about.

But my choices are sometimes surprising to me. Given a limited set of options, I choose which is preferable, and sometimes it’s something I wouldn’t have considered,  given the every day limitless options with which I – along with many other people – am presented.

I don’t need to give details, because they truly don’t matter. But I find it interesting. I wonder how many other people do, too.

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Proper Porntiquette

You know how it goes. You’re single (or just alone), bored, enjoying your day off, all the tv shows are caught up, and you think, “Maybe I’ll could use some me time.” Like, up close and personal “me time”. The no-need-to-buy-me-dinner-first-but-wait-i’m-you-so-you-DID-buy-me-dinner-so-we’re-cool “me time”.

So you make sure the bedroom door is closed, turn off the lights, go the computer and turn down the sound and get your porn on.

I’ve had this nagging part of my brain for years that’s wondered something, though. Do other people porn the way I porn? I mean, I know my process, I know my websites. But what if every other computer-owning member of humanity porns different. And not individually different. Like, everyone else follows the rules, uses the “right” sites, has the “right” process. And I never got the memo.

What if I’ve been porning wrong all these years? What if someone discovered my way of porning and would laugh at me? Because literally NO ONE ELSE porns even remotely similarly to the way I porn. Because I’m not just unique, I’m doing it wrong.

It’s not a haunting thought. But it is there, floating around my brain, pestering me like that mole you know you should check out but it’s okay because it’s not exactly growing so you’re probably fine but maybe it’s skin cancer and oh my god what’s the copay on chemo? Maybe I have porn cancer.

But it’s okay. It’s not like there’s anyone ever who will ever know how I porn. Which is why I’m probably doing it all wrong.

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Life is Company

I was having coffee with a dear friend yesterday when he confessed to me that he’s been dealing with serious depression, and how he finally admitted it out loud to a person last week. He came out of the depression closet. Initially, I felt guilty that I hadn’t noticed. Me, a chronically depressed person for going on 30 years. I didn’t notice that my friend was hurting, had been hurting for a while.

But then I thought, “Well, that’s about right.” He’s depressed in the same way I am. It’s not due to personal circumstances, although negative life experiences do compound the problem. He lives his life, he goes about his days the ways he always has. He reacts to things the way he always has. He takes his showers, does his hair, puts on his “this is what smiles look like, right?” smile and goes about his day. He seems the same as he always has, probably because most of him is. Just like me, and countless of other similarly depressed people, he keeps his issues to himself because even he doesn’t understand why he thinks things are so bad, why he feels so awful, why it takes so much effort to simply go about his day and not stay huddled up in a ball playing video games and cuddling with his cats until the inevitable end of the world in a blaze of fire. Or zombies.

He doesn’t want to tell people because he doesn’t want them to worry. He doesn’t tell people because he doesn’t want people to go on a 2 day suicide watch and then give up because he’s still alive so he must be fine. He doesn’t want to sound like the countless streams of whiny idiots on social media who moan and groan about their trivial trials day after day. He doesn’t want to make people worry. Because HE doesn’t want to worry.

He does what he has to in order to pretend that everything is as fine as he tells the grocery store checker it is because maybe, just maybe, one day he will be. Pretending has to be enough for now because the reality of how he feels about himself, while he can logically see the lies within that feeling. He lives his life because there’s nothing else to do, and maybe just that will make him feel better.

I’m glad he told me. While it’s the shittiest way in which to bond with a friend, it’s also kind of amazing. To know you’re not alone. Just knowing that there are other people in the world who share your plight is one thing. Knowing there’s a person who is already important to you sharing it at exactly that moment brings more comfort, erases more loneliness, shows more glimmers of hope than any blog post or Ted talk by a stranger could ever hope to accomplish.

It feels like an ongoing hug in the center of who you are. At your core. To your very soul. It doesn’t make you feel like the depression will end some day. It makes you feel like you’ll have company, even if it lasts to the end of your life. Even if you never have more than a few hours at a time of actually feeling grocery store clerk fine. Someone will be there, someone who can answer a phone call or text, someone who KNOWS. Someone who can remind you that you can have that lasting soul-hug whenever you need one.

It’s beautiful. And sad. And necessary.

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The I in Alone

It’s an odd feeling, loneliness. For the depressed community, it’s usually illogical. The sense of isolation has little to nothing to do with one’s actual situation. Instead, it’s just a feeling that somehow your soul is alone.

For the past 10 years, I’ve had at least one person sharing my home with me: roommates, husband, roommates again. Yet I’ve felt overwhelmingly alone for most of that time. And it’s no one’s fault. No one did anything wrong to make me feel this way. Yet I feel like I’m always sitting around waiting for someone to make me feel less lonely.

Instead, I choose to not think about it. I fill my time with friends, family, and activities. I write in my journal, blog, and screenplays. I spend too much time on Facebook, updating statuses, reading updates of others. I go for long walks, make sure to daydream. I clean my home, make sure to shower regularly. (Why do depression and loneliness remove the desire to shower? I’m sure people who smell are more lonely than otherwise.)

But if I let my guard down for a moment, the crushing boulder of ALONE pushes down on my metaphorical chest, sometimes leaving me with the intense desire to make my physical life reflect my mental life. I want to push people away, ignore phone calls and texts, shut myself up in my room until people wonder where the hell that smell’s coming from. I don’t, but I want to. Fortunately, the logic side of my brain prevails. The one that says, “Dude, you got four texts, a phone call, and a billion likes on Facebook. There are obviously people in your life.”

At least the logic side still rules my body. At least the isolation is only interior. At least I don’t have to be afraid of what will happen should the logic decide to take a permanent vacation.

It’s just…sometimes I wish it would. Because it’s not remotely as scary a proposition as it should, logically, be.

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Survival of the Okayest

I was a highly imaginative child. I knew exactly how the world was supposed to work, and what my role was to be within it. I would be a musician, some day I would fall in love, and that guy would be the One. I would get married, and then I would become a Mom, and be constantly surrounded by my loving family and friends. I didn’t plan to change the world; I was sure the world was pretty much the way it was supposed to be and didn’t need changing.

I did become a musician. That’s…pretty much all my list got right. The rest was wrong, and I’ve had the wonderful privilege of spending the rest of my life in a constant state of disillusionment.

I fell in love, with the wrong person, and in the wrong series of events. So I ended the short-lived relationship, and on that day I gave up the idea of ever falling in love with anyone, at least of falling in love with someone who would love me back in the same way. And while I’ve had intense, romantic feelings since then, they’ve not been returned.

I got married. Twice. Divorced twice. Lost a baby at least once (probably a second time, too). The family I thought I would still have has almost all dissolved, either through deaths or estrangements.

So what is the point of all this? What is the point of my life? Why do I even bother to continue to keep going when nothing has worked out besides becoming a musician? I literally have no answer. At the moment, I feel like I’m just doing my best to survive until the end of the next day, wake up, and survive another day, ad infinitum. Always working to stay alive, even though I can’t even figure out why my being alive even matters.

Sure, people love me. That’s neat. I love them, too, which is some days the only reason I keep on making a point to survive another day. But what is the point? Why do I even care? If I happened to be not around, as I recently was when I thought I was moving permanently to Los Angeles, people would get over it. The overwhelming non-reaction to my return has been enough testament to the truth of that statement.

Maybe on my deathbed, surrounded by emptiness and orderlies, I’ll realize the point. Why I bothered to stick around. Or maybe not. I’m 36 years old, and I have the distinct impression that I’ve left no impact on the world, or even on the lives of more than a couple of people. I’m alone, broke, and spending the evening watching Buffy episodes for the millionth time.

As of right now, my life is about surviving another day and waiting until I’ve been awake long enough to justify going back to sleep. Maybe that’s the point of all life. Not to be great, not to make an impact, not to be anything than merely okay.

Maybe the point is just to stay alive long enough to go to sleep again.

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Happily Unhappy

I’ve recently read quite a few “list” articles on the topic of happiness. What to do to get happy, how to stay happy, why you’re not happy, what happy people do, etc. I’ve found them interesting, but they tend to have common themes and make certain assumptions about unhappy people that aren’t always true.

1. Poor Self-Esteem

It’s not a bad assumption that unhappy people have low self-esteem. The problem for me is that I feel I have great self-esteem. I like myself just fine, and while there are aspects of my physical, psychological, and emotional self that I am always seeking to improve, I’ve always been comfortable with who I am at the core.

The thing is, when I’m happiest with myself is when I’m working on trying to change some aspect of myself into something I would rather be. I make those changes because I have confidence that the person I currently am has the strength to make those changes. It’s like cooking or baking. I cook something and think, “Wow. That was delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed the flavors, and my mouth and stomach were quite satisfied with the result. But what if next time I change this little thing so that I like it even better?! That would rock. Next time I’ll change the thing.” And then I make that change, like it (or sometimes not) and have pretty much the same reaction. Completely wonderful, but room for improvement. Next.

That’s how I view myself. I like myself great. But I could be better at certain things. So I make efforts to change those things, and realize that I like those changes (or sometimes not), keep them, and make further improvements. I’m a work in progress. I’ll never be finished until the day I die. And I’ll like that person, too, because of how much work I put into being whoever I end up becoming.

So my happiness isn’t dependent on improving my self-esteem. For me, the two are unrelated.

2. Focus on Self Over Focus on Others

Yeah, no. Sorry. I do struggle with balance in this area, but that’s only because I sometimes forget about myself. Selfishness is definitely important. But the times in my life when I’ve intentionally back-shelved my loved ones for my own temporary enjoyment of life have actually been darker periods of my life. Times when I’ve been remarkably unhappy. I personally need to be needed, want to be wanted, and everything else Cheap Tricky. I love going to my friends’ homes and randomly washing their dishes. In that instance, it’s two-fold: piles of dirty dishes annoy me to no end, and doing something nice for a friend makes me feel good. I’m alleviating my annoyance and being helpful. If I didn’t do that thing, or countless other things I like to do for my friends, then I would feel sad, unfulfilled, burdensome, and really bored.

I need to focus on me, you betcha. But me wants to do nice things. That actually IS focusing on me, and it IS selfish. Selfishness isn’t the same as self-centeredness. I can’t be self-centered, and I have no desire to be. Balance is key.

3. Act Happy/Don’t Complain/Visualize Your Perfect Life

I lump these together because they have been the exact things that contributed to my personal unhappiness, and because they’re pretty much just different ways of saying the same thing. The worst habit of my life, one I am constantly trying to overcome, is to forget to acknowledge how bad things are.

I have to let myself be depressed. If I ignore the chronic state of impending depression with which I constantly deal, then when it shows its inevitable head it’s 10 times worse than if I allow the natural flow of doldrums infiltrate my reality. Sadness and depression are real things, and I MUST acknowledge and accept them. Ignoring them and acting happy does nothing but perpetuate the problem.

I have to complain. About my shortcomings, about my loved ones who annoy or disappoint me, about how things just aren’t working out right now. Keeping it inside and never letting it out with the necessary complaining is toxic to my existence.

Visualizing my perfect life has held me back more times than I can count. I live an incredibly different life inside my head than has ever existed, than ever WILL exist, in my reality. For me, that visualization creates an expectation that contributes to my unhappiness more than I can possibly ever express. Yes, I daydream. But now I make a point of telling myself ahead of time that it’s just my imagination, just a daydream, and it will never happen. Then when it doesn’t, I’m not left feeling worse off than before I had the thought of perfection.

4. Have a Sense of Humor

Really?! This one shows up a lot, and it is hilarious. The funniest people I’ve ever known are those I’ve noticed dealing with more unhappiness than anyone else. Does laughing make you happy? In that moment, you betcha. But the funnier the joke, the larger the reaction, the bigger the letdown that follows. Having a sense of humor does not equal happiness. How many comedians have to commit suicide before that fallacy is finally shut down? Jesus.

5. Be Grateful/Appreciate the Good Things

“Well at least I don’t have cancer.”
“At least I have SOME money.”
“At least I have SOME loved ones around.”

I can’t say more about this, except it’s akin to the idea that pretending to be happy and ignoring the problem will make you actually happy. To this, I say simply, “No.” Am I grateful for the good things? Sure. Do I appreciate when good things happen? Yup. But when I’m having an especially awful day, does it make me happy to realize those good things? No. Sorry. Try again. It may make me less unhappy for the moment, but all that is truly achieved is a steady ambivalence towards life.

The thing with all this, the goal to life as I see it, is that happiness isn’t the goal. At least it’s not my goal, not permanently. I don’t want to be happy all the time. It’s not how life works. Life is full of sunshine and thunderstorms. People are born and people die. People have money and people lose it all. People have wonderful relationships that can end at the drop of a hat. The true goal, as I see it, is to exist. To be real. To be genuine. To try for the best, expect the worst, and eventually achieve a level of contentment that leads you to your next happy, depressing, enraptured, tragic moment. And to work towards your next level of contentment.

Happiness is stagnant. And not true happiness at all.

On the other hand, try giving an unhappy person a giant stack of money, and you will discover another fallacy.

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