Could you tell if someone had a headache just by looking at them? There are signs: stroking parts of the forehead, occasional wincing, or a decrease in mental clarity. Otherwise, it’s an invisible disorder where blood vessels misbehave around the brain, sending pain signals, or maybe, something completely different? Can you tell if someone has waged a war against their addictions just by looking at them? Would they show signs of having won daily battles?
Why do we care about so many trivialities? From pretending to be that which we are not – rich, happy, successful – to caring about what everyone thinks, Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F …Grawlix …CK. doesn’t quite answer that question. That’s because these answers are different for each person. I might care about being happy for a different reason than you. In an afternoon or two, you can find your answers.
Our lives are often filled with minor annoyances. Whether it’s a pothole that causes a jostle along our commute, rough interactions, or a glaring sense of ennui that life isn’t as going as well as it could, we’re constantly down on ourselves. It’s like that survival instinct gets turned off sometimes. It’s in those darker moments where you’ve just gotta find some pothole to fill in; something that can ideally help others along with yourself.
We perform versions of ourselves whenever we interact with others. I am performing a version of myself right now, as are you, my dearest reader. This applies more when we dress up nicely for work than talking to a neighbor in our pajamas, but both are performances. These performances of social norms – acceptable levels of interactive decency – are taxing. I give myself 75 minutes before every workday to exorcise nonperforming urges so I feel good performing.
Here’s a multi-faceted thought experiment: What if you’ll live to be 100 years old, unless you do something expeditiously stupid? You’ll live the same life you are now. When you die, you retain your experiences, then move onto the life of one of nine other people. In that new life, how much would you return to? Would you re-experience that which you disliked five lifetimes ago without provocation or strong arguments? Would you take on everything?
My fears are always lingering, like when we peer out from behind the curtains of our mind’s eye out into the void where an unknowable creature lumbers, and yet, where are they really? Is it in the truck that swerves too close into your lane because of the sharper curve in the road or because of the first rainfall in weeks? Is it the passerby that might become aggressive? Do fears have a physical address?
I have nearly two shelves in my refrigerator dedicated to caffeine. Those energy drinks, along with a coffee machine with enough for some time, are like my mind’s way of saying I’m not really over with addiction. It’s just transferred to something less harmful, perhaps. My gut has felt rotten occasionally for a few weeks now. It might be hunger. It might be excessive caffeine. It could just be not scheduling enough time for sleep.
I was joined on my morning commute by a grasshopper. They are weird little creatures, especially in pre-dawn morning hours, looking like malformed aliens of some distant reality, or ourselves on bad days where instead of addressing our root issues or practicing self-care we lash out at others, but maybe less ugly. This one had rested on the lower left part of my windshield and hung on as I drove out of my apartment-mansion complex.
There are mornings where I wake up to the screaming of yesterday’s thoughts, their agonizing recreations of contorted events plaguing my routine. I know it’s all imaginary, but sometimes, like the ants that appear out of nowhere and after I clean up after them only to see them still there, it’s difficult to turn away to continue my absurdist façade. These are the “some” days that are worst than “most.” Here are my coping mechanisms.
I noticed something curious after starting to consume the low caffeine, high high-fructose corn syrup concoction, taken about 30 minutes after a 30-minute nap concluding my workweek: I felt uncharacteristically starved. I scavenged my fridge for carbohydrates. Nothing seemed to satiate this hunger perhaps provoked by this red syrup or perhaps by my disregard toward my mind’s eye and body with consuming such garbage even for a casual experiment. Why the sudden fascination with energy drinks?