Monday, September 21, 2015

A Sports Car Named Desire

Forgive me, dear reader, for a self-indulgent post - and an honest one; perhaps too much so - but still, self-indulgent and not contractually obligated in any way (forgive me, also, for throwing every single form of sentence punctuation at you all in one go). I have spoken, on a few different- or perhaps couple - occasions, of the Four Noble Truths; in somewhat laymen's terms. I have most often doted upon this because of the notion that life is suffering, and that suffering is driven by immaterial desires of, as is the cast of most of humanity, temporary and unimportant goods and wants. I don't think that all desires are manifestly bad, but I would go so far as to argue that they can easily become a sort of perpetual existential calamity; a way to judge ourselves not against real results, but against perceived things we desire and often fall short of. Or, as Killer Mike so eloquently put "Be the best you. And the best you is probably just about average." He also dispensed the advice to purchase, for the purposes of consumption, better beer, suffice to say his advice is likely correct an inordinately high amount of times. To desire better beer from here on out will be established as a perfectly legitimate desire.

It seems, of course, non-controversial to maintain that some desires are both good and natural, which I am suggesting from here on out. To desire, to, say, be loved, to have enough to eat, to have shelter, to understand candy corn, the aforementioned better beer, none of these are particular egregious desires. Me thinking it'd be fun to have a convertible, someday, probably is.

Anyways, as you have likely stumbled along with me in this writing and have reached the point in which you go "alas, pedantic authorial creator of this blog, what is the point of this hereto post?" I believe it necessary that I further, if briefly, elucidate the greater point I will attempt to make by way of a few notable, if dull and non-concerning to the reader, life experiences. We now tread very personal ground, here, and I offer the most prolific apology that I can from my station at the end of an LED light and a tactile keyboard. At least, I would like to think I need to offer one.

It was 5th grade, the year was 1999, and I had walked about a quarter of a mile to the nearby park, to sit under a tree and cry for the evening, by myself. You might ask "why is a 10 year old crying by himself under a tree during the evening?" I might be inclined to say "because the 10 year old is a little *****" but I'd like to refrain from sexist gendered slurs and too much self-deprecation. Instead, I will dare to suggest that I was the victim of some nasty private school white boy bullying, such as that people frequently made fun of the following;

1) My inability to pronounce "th" as in "three" or "thinking"
2) My perceived intelligence
3) My quietness

It would be at the end of the school year, between 5th and 6th grade, that I could add "the size of my nipples" to that list, but that is oddly specific and no, I don't forgive the girl who relentlessly made fun of me for it, and yes, I hated going swimming if she was around, and fuck you, you know who you are. Although you will never read this.

Well, anyways, that got rather nasty and crude quickly, so let's reverse gear a bit. I don't suspect that the bullying I received was any worse than what hundreds of thousands of children go through every day. The bullying did not turn physical until high school, when punches and attempts to pull me down to the ground by way of my backpack got added to the list, but it was a culture shock to go from a school through 4th grade whose bullying was aggressively stamped out and rather minute in nature, all things considered, to one where the bullying gauntlet was almost seen as a right of passage. Indeed, it was these friends I made in this school and who continued to the same high school as me that would maintain their verbal and physical abuse, not the "other" high schoolers who I was warned would "walk down the halls and randomly punch people." While my high school was a violent one, to the point of several statistical deviations higher than the mean, I myself only ever felt threatened by my "friends."

To get back to an earlier point, I spent many nights in 5th grade crying in bed, to the point that on one occasion, my sister went and got my mom because she had heard me crying for a long time. I sort of vaguely expressed a general meanness from my peers, but never really specified who or what, and my parents would be stonewalled by me throughout my life due to my complete and utter inability to open up to people. I was not raised to wear my emotions on my sleeve, and damnit if I wasn't going to go down without doing so.

I had those teary nights, general feelings of sadness, and anxiety about school rather frequently during the years of 5th-8th grade, but it wasn't until high school, when, as previously mentioned, the bullying added a physical element, my grades began to suffer, and my teachers told my parents that I was a loner, that thoughts of suicide entered into the equation. I had known what living with general sadness was, now I was learning to live with feelings of self-destruction. Anything less than a 4.0 was failure. Anything less than going to college was failure. Anything I wore was ugly and would get me made from of. Any way I wore my hair was ugly. And on and on. I was never knifed, stolen from, suspended, nor did I suffer from fear of a roof over my head or food on my table, but my weak spine and inability to communicate just made it all too much. That it would become even worse in college, staring down the barrel of student debt, a violent, criminal roommate, and social anxiety so bad that I never wanted to be seen in public or even be around people, is perhaps funny in retrospect. At the time, I viewed college as the potential for a fresh start.

Of course, as usual, the feelings were never shared, but by my senior year of high school, I was off-and-on self-harming and spending entire days after school or work in bed reading up on suicide and painless ways to end one's life, supplementing my depression with healthy doses of cynicism and misanthropy. The latter two of which, I am glad to say, have long been abandoned. The former of the three which I still practice to this day.

The numbers, of course, are disquieting to myself. The weeks of feeling sad started in 5th grade, at age ten, and the thoughts of suicide started at age 14, in grade 9. That I am now 26 means I have spent 61.5% of my life fighting off endless crying fits, sadness, melancholy, and anxiety, and 46.1% fighting off my own self-destruction. To say that it is wearying would be an understatement.

Alas, it becomes a sort of calculable certainty, then, that something about me is so inherently broken, so inherently unfixable, that I will always be sad. Over the years, many things have changed, from my job, to my school, to my friends, to my hobbies, and yet the feelings have remained relatively steady, with only temporary breaks or lulls, but the firm knowledge, deep down, that the bad times will always return.

It also becomes familiar. It is hard to remember times of happiness, of weeks or months where I'd wake up, and, while not necessarily jump out of bed, feel alright about myself and the day ahead of me, as opposed to wondering if it'd be easier to step in front of a train or a semi-truck. The malaise has lasted for so long that it is, in many ways, all that I know. And tens of thousands of dollars in drugs and therapy and hospitalization has done little to stem the tide, perhaps only so much as doing enough to prevent it from being as bad as it possibly could be.

So I come back to the Four Noble Truths. That we derive our suffering from desire. Perhaps I work too hard at trying to achieve something that I will never achieve. Perhaps the state of my existence is such that I will forever be foiled by the acquisition of just one thing I would really most like in the world. And that my desiring of it only makes things worse. That I need to let go of the desire of this thing, that I need to accept it will never happen, and that I must deal with the hand I have been dealt. But fuck, if it isn't hard to lie down at night and avoid thinking "why can't I have it?" well, I don't know what is. All I desire, right now, is happiness.

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