‘The Opposite of Depression is not Happiness, but Vitality’ – Andrew Solomon
Is anybody else taken aback by just how tough life can be? I’m not even talking about real tough stuff, so many people live such pained and troubled existences – real problems, real shit – It’s a wonder to me how they manage to keep going. I’m talking about the everyday, menial, mundane shit. Shit like getting up in the morning, getting dressed, showering, eating, working, socialising, the kind of stuff we’ve all taking for granted at some simpler point in our life narrative. Staring down the barrel of mere existence I find myself crippled by a lethargic disdain for it all.
I see others coasting through it all. Wading through the bullshit of unfulfilling jobs, taxes and bills, irritating encounters and fleeting moments. I know that for many it is not as easy as they make it look. I know myself that when my friends see my laughing and joking away in the pub, when my family see me chatting away about my daily routine, that when my colleagues see me hard at work, few see the tiredness in my eyes. None see the hours I spent staring at the wall trying to fall asleep last night, or the hours I spent trying to drag myself from bed this morning. I know others feel acutely what I feel. Still, that can’t be true for everyone, right? There are those out there for whom life is a gift in and of itself, fuck all that noise, simply being is enough.
I’m sure I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time when I slept soundly and woke easy. A time when I moved with purpose and spoke with sincerity, when my smile wasn’t a mask and my laugh didn’t feel forced. Hell, even now I have those odd days. I can spend half the night screaming into the void and wake up the very next morning perplexed by my anguish, thinking life isn’t so tough after all.
I think I’m a good person. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve hurt some people with my callousness and neglected others through self absorption. But I’m not mean-spirited, I don’t discriminate based on colour or orientation, I reflect upon my shortcomings and learn from them. I try to be good, I want to be good. I don’t say this to be self congratulatory, I firmly believe that most people are intrinsically kind and treat others how they wish themselves to be treated. Still it is a truth self evident that this is not universally true. There are those who live with hate in their hearts and spite in their minds, from the top of the ladder right down to the bottom. I wonder how soundly they sleep at night? Many of them better than me I imagine. It doesn’t seem fair.
You may be reading this and thinking fuck me ‘get a grip’, life isn’t fair, you don’t know how easy you have it. I wouldn’t blame you. My feelings feel deeply selfish. I have a family who loves me, friends who want to spend time with me, a roof over my head and food in my belly, how dare I be so ungrateful when there are so many out there with so little. I think this is the main reason I wear my mask so tightly. But suffering, like happiness, isn’t comparative. There is enough of both to go around.
I know many of you, like me, are struggling to come to grips with the meaning of it all. I read your blogs and I feel your pain, your compassion and your desire to share your experiences with others. As I spoke about at greater length in an earlier blog post, we are all driven be a desire to share. Our voices should be heard, how else can we make sense of this tough life? Fill the silence.