Things have been hard lately. But, I think I might have stumbled on something today that might provide a framework for making things better.
I canceled my Netflix and HBO Max subscriptions. I’ve had the former for years and years…at a minimum, the duration of BoJack Horseman (7 years), but maybe even longer. I canceled them because I was watching—and rewatching—too many shows. I felt like I wasn’t being productive enough. That, however, resulted in an almost desperate desire to relive BoJack Horseman in any way I could—so, I watched deconstruction videos on YouTube. I tell ya, I occasionally figure myself a sharp guy, but it never ceases to amaze me how much I missed, how many hidden themes and motifs the show has. Long story short, though, one video led to another, and I ended up watching a video on nihilism: that of BoJack versus that of Rick from Rick and Morty. I’ll spare you the details, but the former demonstrates existential nihilism—the notion that life has no inherent meaning, but we can create meaning for ourselves if we will take responsibility for doing so—versus the latter, which demonstrates cosmic nihilism—the notion that even if we think we’re creating meaning, it’s really just a crutch, a coping mechanism that we create to try to assuage the discomfort in knowing that there really is no meaning, no truth to be found in the universe. Neither flavor of nihilism says that we just give up. The former advocates taking that responsibility to find meaning for oneself while the latter advocates living in the moment, finding things to at least pass the time enjoyably while waiting for the inevitable heat death of the universe.
If one finds oneself feeling nihilistic, identifying which one of these flavors “fits” better can—surprisingly (at least to me)—provide a path forward. I identify a lot with BoJack, and I suspect that’s why I’ve clung to it so hard, why I feel compelled to watch it over and over again, knowing full well that doing so is going to make me morose. Like BoJack (at least in his adulthood), I’ve had a pretty good life, yet I struggle to find happiness, contentment, or a sense of relief. I visited my parents today for Father’s Day, and my dad reminded me that in the last 7 months, I’ve taken what used to be an unmowed patch of grass, put a tiny house on it, cleared and disposed of almost two acres’ worth of trash (and I do mean trash—a 30-yard, a 25-yard, and several 12-yard dumpsters’ worth), and put in a pretty nice-looking driveway, all while holding down a full-time job. That should—and at times does—lend me a sense of pride at being able to see the results of my labors, yet for the last couple of weeks, it hasn’t seemed to matter. I’ve felt stagnated: hating my job, stopping doing commissions, not really feeling like doing much on my “want to do list”, and above all, not getting anything new accomplished. I mean, yeah, I mowed the property (finally—been waiting a month for it to dry out), but ehhh… The thing is, though, I’ve been really productive, and I’m finally getting to that point of having “arrived”—the credit card is paid off as of two weeks ago, so all that’s left is to pay off the tiny house, and then I’ll again be debt-free—and yet it feels like I’ve finished climbing Mt. Everest and am now saddened and disoriented by the fact that there are no higher peaks to climb.
I’ve been consumed a lot lately by thoughts of, “what’s the point?” I think about getting a new job, but what’s the point if I’m not qualified for the job I want and the jobs I am qualified for would just be more of the same of what I’m doing? I think about tackling one of the many design ideas I’ve had for decades now, but what’s the point if I’m not going to actually build them? I think about writing, but what’s the point if it’s become a chore and doesn’t really pay that well (at least compared to my day job) anyway? I think about putting myself out there and trying to find a relationship—or at least a FWB (Tuesday will mark two years since the last time I had sex with someone else—and it lasted about a minute and a half)—but what’s the point if I’ve been on the apps over and over and there has never been an improvement in the prospects? I’ve thought about planning the “big house” again, but what’s the point if I’m not going to build it (and do not want to be in debt for the next 30–45 years to pay it off)? I’ve thought about planting a garden, but what’s the point if I’m probably going to end up moving it once I finally figure out what to do with the rest of the property?
But, that video resonated with me today—a bit. I don’t think I’m ready to fully commit to anything, but now thoughts are creeping in of, “if nothing matters and you’re not doing anything else anyway, then why not look for a new job? Why not design and actually build one of my projects—who knows, maybe it’ll actually make money—especially since I could actually afford to spend a little on bringing it to life? Why not look around on the apps again, or even go into town again like I did a few weeks ago? If nothing else, doing those things breaks up the monotony a bit. I’m not ready to get back into writing again or to design the house—the sting of letdown is still to fresh on those for me to be able to enjoy them—but what does it hurt if I take a little time to plant some tomatoes and water them a bit?
I’d hoped that writing this would help my thoughts coalesce a little faster, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Still, the point of all this is, if worst-case, there is no meaning, no point to anything, then I still need a way to pass the time, and I might as well find ways to make as much of my time as enjoyable as possible. At best, if there is meaning if I’m willing to take responsibility for finding it, then actively working to get out of my rut—laying my ears back and saying, “I don’t care if there’s no point; the point is to do something different”—might be a productive first step. Either way, I need to stop passively waiting for “something good” to happen and instead go out and find it. The grass didn’t mow itself; the house—well, okay, the house did build itself (or, rather, was delivered built), but I had to put the pad and utilities in for it; the trash didn’t remove itself, and if I want a better job, I need to find it. If I’m not qualified, then I need to find a way to gain the proper qualifications. If I ever want to get my company off the ground and start actually designing all these neat, useful things I’ve been dreaming of for years, I need to quit telling myself why I can’t and fucking do it. In short, I need to treat the rest of my life the way I treated my dream of landownership: quit making excuses and get it done.
Well, it took a bit longer than I wanted, but my thoughts did finally merge into something actionable. Now to find the courage to do it…