Yuck. Yuck. And the feeling of yuck.
It all feels so empty. Uncomfortable. I go check the news online. I go read from a few websites. I read a novel. I fill my pipe with marijuana and take a small hit. Anything to rid myself of this feeling of yuck.
I have often heard this feeling of yuck referred to as existential pain. It is the feeling that your life is not measuring up. You are failing to be the person you want to be or think you should be. You are failing to be great. You are failing to meet these societal expectations of how you think you should be. Failing, failing, failing. And this fear of failure is causing you to feel like a no one. It is causing you to feel like you are doing everything wrong. It is causing you to feel like your life does not matter. You have failed and when you die you are going to fade away into obscurity.
When you just sit there and do nothing things feel yucky. All that emptiness which is caused by a fear of failure comes up. We all know this feeling and most of us just stay busy, keep doing things to avoid feeling it. If we just stay busy, if we just keep buying things, working, having kids, making money then maybe we will feel like we are measuring up. Then maybe we will feel like our lives will not be for nothing and we can be relieved of this feeling of yuck.
I eat. I listen to music. I write these futile essays and post them on various blogs. I go to a job in an effort to earn a decent living. I make art. I read novels. I watch films. I drink wine and meditate. I do all these things in an effort to keep away the existential pain. But it always returns. First thing in the morning when I just sit there. There it is. What am I going to do with my day? How am I going to try and make my life count today? I don’t want to do any of the things that I have to do, but I still must do them anyway. I am failing at the things I really want to do. I don’t want to do anything. It goes on and on like this. I had a mentor many years ago who believed that existential pain was an alarm going off telling you that your life is on the wrong track. But who cares. Let’s put it out of mind. Let’s watch the news or smoke some pot. Let’s go to work. Let’s check our phone or read a website. Lets just try and forget about it. Life should not be so difficult. It should not be so hard. I just want to forget about all the shit. This becomes most people’s life’s motivation. To forget about all the shit.
I am trying to be content with just being average. I tell myself that if I could just be ok with not being anyone, with not distinguishing myself in any kind of unique way, if I could just be ok with disappearing into nothingness and obscurity, then maybe I can be happy in my life. Then maybe I could free myself from this feeling of yuck. After a life-time of being conditioned to be a somebody, to be great and successful at whatever I do, it is hard to settle on being average. On not needing to be anyone at all. To just be able to sit here and not do anything except just enjoy my life and be at peace. I know that this feeling of yuck is a result of feeling like I am failing at doing what I need to be doing or what I should be doing. If I could just not need to do anything at all maybe I would finally feel all right.
But it is tough to decide to just become average, to make peace with not needing to be noticed by anyone. Aren’t we all striving for this? To be acknowledge and appreciated for the unique, distinguished and talented/good individual that we think we are? Isn’t that why we work so hard? I know this path only leads to more stress, more unhappiness and I would like to give it up but in making the decision to become average (or below average) I can’t seem to shake this feeling that my life would then somehow be a waste. After all, I live on this tiny planet, in this even tinier country where everyone I am surrounded by are all trying to distinguish themselves from all the rest so that when they die they will not slip away into nothingness. It is always difficult to go against what everyone else is doing because then you feel like you will be out of the club. Forgotten. Discarded. No longer necessary. I know that I do not want to be in the club, but I also know that life can present new challenges when you are living on the outside. (See my essay The Outsider.)
Maybe we are all just fucked. (I can’t believe that spellcheck does not have the correct spelling for the word fucked when I spelled it wrong; have we really become that repressive of a society?) Maybe this is what life in the Western world has come to at this point in history. We are all fucked, there is no escape from the yuck. Maybe the only way out is through some kind of spiritual transformation where you are no longer trying to achieve anything at all because you are perfectly content with life as it is in the present moment. You need nothing else but what you have in this moment because you have spiritually transcended the more material and ego based reality. Maybe.
Where is my marijuana pipe?
I reach for my pipe, fill it with marijuana and that becomes my answer for right now. I clean my house. Turn on music. Maybe I will watch a small amount of porn to activate my dopamine receptors. I water the plants in my backyard garden. Read a few things online. I realize everything that I am doing is basically motivated by the impulse to get rid of this feeling of yuck. Possibly the society that I live in is constructed to provide people with a way to rid themselves of this feeling of yuck or maybe it is the cause of this feeling of yuck. I happen to think it is the cause. Life unto itself can be a very pleasant and peaceful thing much of the time but society is what fucks it all up. This continual pressure to measure up. Maybe. I don’t know. Obviously, the answers I have thus far found are inadequate.
Is this what was meant by a life of quiet desperation? At least I am not staying quiet about it. This is one thing I am doing right. Maybe. Maybe not.