You ever feel like Kevin Spacey’s character in “American Beauty?”
You have an indoor job that doesn’t require a lot hard physical labor. So theoretically you have an easy job, but you come home from work every day tired. You’d think you would have lots of energy because there’s so little sensory stimulation in suburbia, but your job is stressful and pointless. You have no job satisfaction. The only places you ever go are to work, a gas station, home, a grocery store, and occasionally a restaurant or mall. Wash, rinse, repeat over and over again. Your life is a skipping CD. It has become so routine that you can do it without thinking, and sometimes you do. Months fly by and you don’t even realize it because you’ve been asleep at the wheel the whole time.
Then one day you take a vacation to someplace you’ve always dreamed of, and your vacation probably goes something like this: You spend the whole vacation running from attraction to attraction in a wild frenzy trying to fit everything into your short trip, which makes you more exhausted than when your vacation started so that you’re relieved when you get home. When you get home you realize you spent way more money than you budgeted, because you got overcharged for everything, and now you’re going to stress out over making your money back. Despite all the problems with your vacation it still got you thinking about how jealous you are of the people who live in the picturesque place you visited, and now you’re depressed because you had a taste of a better life (that you know someone else is living), and now you have a frame of reference with which to measure how dismal your bland, stressful, circular life is.
So you get back to your bland, stressful, circular routine and the memory of your vacation quickly rides the conveyor belt of time to the back of your mind. You don’t realize it, but if you had have enough money or vacation time left you’d take another vacation as a roundabout way to buy happiness, but since you can’t do that you’re forced to endure the unfulfilling lifestyle you’re trapped in. So you try to find little ways to bring some happiness in your life (or at least ways to feel alive): buying a new hat, masturbating, watching a movie, going bowling, getting drunk, eating at a new restaurant, etc.
So basically you have a tiny life, and it starts to feel claustrophobic. That compounded with your stress and lack of respite you start feeling depressed and develop panic attacks. You start to suspect that there’s something wrong with you, and all the self-help books you read agree you’re an ungrateful emotional cripple for not being maniacally happy every moment of every day. Since the self-help books didn’t solve your problems (and actually made you feel more guilty) you suspect there is something wrong with you biologically. So you go to see a therapist who puts you on antidepressants, which make your stifling lifestyle more bearable by forcing you to be happy chemically.
The problem isn’t that you don’t understand the self-help secret of life, and the problem isn’t biological for most people. The problem is that our economy is designed to force you into a repetitive, stressful, lackluster lifestyle that is too expensive for most people to escape. Nobody intentionally designed it like that. It’s just the way it happened. If beer or antidepressants help you get through it then you may as well try them, because you’re probably going to be stuck in the cycle for a long time. Here are some other helpful hints for coping with modern life: Go insane. Get a hobby. Convince your boss to let you wear pajamas to work. Exercise. Work in the porn industry. Quit your job and move to a third world country.
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