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The enormity of it all...
Sisyphus arrives at a deeply upsetting thought.
Sometimes I’m struck by the enormity of it all. This is going to be very pretentious, just bear with me, just listen.
I grew up in Chicagoland but went to college in Dubuque, Iowa. It’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive, sometimes longer if you get stuck behind a semi on Highway 20.
Around the midway point, there’s a little truck stop called the Belvidere Oasis. It stretches over four lanes of traffic in either direction and features some of the finest dining options in the area— McDonald’s, Subway, Panda Express, Sbarro— this place has it all.
I liked to sit along the window sill and watch the cars zip under my feet. Four lanes of human beings, each with their own origin story and ego, hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities, failures and disappointments. I remember sitting there and just being crushed by the enormity of it all.
All these people with all these problems, suffering in silence, incapable of reconciling their past— just strapped to a chair and hurling 70 miles an hour towards some shit they gotta do later. A lifetime of pain, gone in a flash— I’d never see that person again.
That’s some heavy shit, man! I bet if you weighed the heaviness in each human heart, the mass would outweigh the sun tenfold. And every second, the weight grows heavier.
OK, OK, maybe I’m being melodramatic. Maybe I’m wrong and all these people live idyllic lives. They all have careers that bring them nothing but purpose and joy. They just straight up cum for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and then on Friday night, they pile the family into the Dodge Caravan and head down to AMC Theaters to watch Ryan Reynolds be detached for a couple of hours before coming home and saying a prayer before bed:
“Dear Lord, thank you for never making us face any hardship or adversity whatsoever. Thank you for keeping us warm in the glow of each other’s pure and unconditional love. Thank you for our guilt-free conscience, unhindered spirit and uninhibited enthusiasm for life. But most of all, thank you for making Ryan Reynolds just so damn handsome and witty! I tell ya, that guy just cracks me up! I hope when I die, I can break the fourth wall right into heaven. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.”
I don’t buy it. Not for a second. If you’ve spent more than 30 seconds on the internet, you probably don’t buy it either. This country is sick. Our species is suffering. Humans are in the midst of a deep spiritual crisis, and nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. The media and Hollywood will try to whitewash the whole thing. Rich people with nice teeth and perfectly coiffed hair will come on TV and tell you how nice and pleasant everything still is, but don’t fall for it. Trust the feeling in your gut. It’s one of the few reliable sources left.
Maybe it’s always been this fucked up, but it’s never been more apparent. I don’t think the mirror has ever been more streak-free and Windexed. From the clusterfuck of the pandemic to political disagreements spilling over into violence in the streets, to people in Viking helmets stealing podiums from Nancy Pelosi— if your fucking antenna isn’t up now, I literally don’t know what else needs to happen. Something’s going on and it’s a problem.
Why doesn’t anyone fix it? Because we don’t know how. Nobody knows the keys to happiness, except me. I’ll tell them to you now:
Have consistent unconditional love and support from family and/or friends. You need a really, really strong support system.
Have a job or passion that gives your life purpose. You need long-term goals and the ability to achieve them.
Have enough money to cover food, medical care and retirement. People need to be secure in the knowledge that their quality of life isn’t in danger of severely diminishing as they get older.
That’s pretty much it. Those are your boilerplate human needs. You don’t need chocolate java mint cappuccinos or Rule 34 Deadpool hentai— you may enjoy these things, but you’ll survive without them.
That first problem is the hardest to solve. You can’t love everyone. You can say you do, if you’re like Harry Styles or whatever, but empty platitudes aren’t a substitute for real love. It’s not the same as having someone sit down across from you, look you in the eyes and really listen. That requires dedication, which is something most motherfuckers just don’t have.
Friends like that are hard to come by. If you have one, do everything in your power to keep them. If you are that friend, thanks for doing the Lord’s work! But you can’t be a shoulder to cry on for 8 billion people. We kinda have to rely on people doing that for each other, which is hard, because people tend to suck.
Why do we have so many school shooters and opioid addicts and adults obsessed with Funko Pops? It’s because we don’t want to take responsibility for each other. We’d rather exist in our own little atomized worlds than look another human in the eyes and be like, “Hey man, are you OK?”
It’s easier to play the blame game and minimize the problem than admit you’re a part of it.
Let’s just face facts here: We’re an evil, hostile, self-serving, retarded species— like cows with swords: big, fat, dumb animals hacking each other to bits for the rights to all the hay. Until we transcend our animal impulses, we’ll be stuck in this compassionless hell cycle, this Pareto Distribution, where only 20% of us can truly be happy at any given time, always at the expense of the other 80%.
So far, we’re 0 for 1.
Employment-wise, things are even more bleak. My job sucks, I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck, but so many people have it way worse than me.
Imagine working at McDonald’s. People literally use your job as an example of the worst job.
At least I’m not working at McDonald’s.
Imagine hearing that your entire life and still filling out an application. That takes a level of swallowing your pride that most people just don’t have. To work in fast food, you gotta be fucked up. Because only fucked up people can do those jobs.
I worked at Dominos for a summer. One guy got arrested on the job for a warrant. They didn’t fire him, they actually promoted him to manager because he was good at making pizzas. Plus, he had been there the longest (5 months). He smoked weed out back every day before his shift. Nobody said shit.
You kinda have to be stoned 24/7 to stomach working in the restaurant industry. Either that or you’re going out and getting fucked up every night. That’s the problem with these jobs, they come with a lifestyle that destroys your prospects of ever getting a better job. You’re stuck in a shitty, stinky box all day with seven other degenerates, of varying ages and levels of hygiene, who’ve all fucked up their lives in different ways. We are the culmination of the people we hang around. If everyone around you is fucked up, it feels normal. That’s what keeps so many people in poverty, the pain starts to feel normal.
Booze, drugs, being wiener cousins with most of the people in your hometown… it’s a pretty gross lifestyle. But acting recklessly is your form of rebellion against a system that tells you you’re not worth a livable salary. You’re the leper, you’re the peasant, you’re the slave. So you might as well try to have a good time, right?
It fucks you up on just such a colossal level. I worked physical labor and service industry jobs as a functional alcoholic for five years and it slowly whittled away my will to live until one day, I snapped, drove home and never came back.
That’s another thing you see with these shitty jobs— high turnover rate. Why? Because every single day is a shit show. It’s one thing to sit in an office and stare at a screen all day, but at McDonald’s, you actually have to do shit. There’s hungry motherfuckers out there waiting. They’re gonna be pissed if they don’t get their McNourishment.
You deal with the worst types of people, all day. Rude, arrogant, entitled Karens and Darrens looking through you like you’re nothing. Bro, I’d be lunging out the window at motherfuckers. “Here’s your change, bitch” and just whip it at them.
I don’t know how people put up with that all week and then get their paycheck and it’s not even enough to cover rent and groceries. One car crash and they’re screwed. One slip and fall. One job loss and they’re either borrowing money from somebody or living out of their car.
I just don’t understand why most people still do it. Why do people continue to get out of bed every morning when there’s no long-term payoff?
This brings us to the third and final source of unhappiness, the growing lack of hope.
It’s kind of terrifying to be right on the brink of doom, and that’s where most Americans find themselves these days. 60% of people are living paycheck-to-paycheck. 53% can’t afford a $500 emergency. The average American household has over $7,200 in credit card debt. I don’t know where we go from here.
You’d think we would’ve figured this one out first, like before we built iPhones and went to the moon. Maybe providing for everyone’s basic needs is just an incredibly complex problem with no easy solution. OK, great. We went through a similar situation with the pandemic and look what happened— people became actively engaged in the problem-solving process. A lot of them had stupid ideas, but at least they cared. Why don’t we have that same enthusiasm for making sure everyone has their basic needs met? I’ll never understand.
We don’t even talk about it, that’s the craziest part. We all just pretend like everything’s fine. It’s a testament to human resiliency, but also, it doesn’t have to be like this, people. If we realized the power in our numbers, we could band together and fight for the things we actually want. Instead, the Owners of this country have us feeling more atomized, alone and powerless than ever before. Even as I type this, I can feel your eyes glazing over.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. But is anything actually going to change?”
Probably not, and that’s the most depressing part.
The enormity of it all— what a horror show.
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