This morning my wife called me her depressed, existential husband. My initial response, my reflexive response was to say, “Really? That is how you think of me?” But quickly I realized that she is right. That is exactly what I am most days.
A part of me doesn’t mind. Yeah, I am a depressed, existential husband and I don’t mind. Its ok with me being this way because it makes sense given the circumstance of being alive. Another part of me thinks that I do not want to be this way. That I wished I felt better and could somehow get to a place where things feel good and I am happy.
What do I mean by happy? A place where I am not complaining about my life all the time. Where I am not speaking out in pain and discontent. A place where the offenses of my mother and father and wife no longer preoccupy the back part of my brain. A place where I am being myself and doing the work that I want to do. A place where I have lived up to my own expectations for myself. A place that feels good most of the time despite the ups and downs of life. This would be happy to me.
Is this happy place possible for me or am I doomed to be a depressed, existentialist no matter what I accomplish? There is certainly a part of me that is a depressed, existentialist. I do not presume this part of me will ever come to pass. I’ve had this nature since young. I am too aware of the transient nature of everything to not be fundamentally existential. I am too aware of the fleeting nature of time to not be depressed. Even as a husband I am too aware that my wife and I and our dogs will die to not feel a chronic aching sadness in the back of my mind. Now that I have survived cancer, the reality of non-existence has been placed at my front door.
I meditate to better handle the realities of this life and I do believe that meditation is the only thing that works for the kind of distress I imbibe. I do believe in a god but I have not concern for what this god is since I can never know. In the not knowing I find my faith in something greater but agnosticism is not often much of an antidote for being a depressed and existential husband. I guess it helps a bit knowing something or someone is there.
But what tends to get me down the most is not the death of things. I think I have moved beyond accepting this. It is the way things are and all we can do is hang on the best we can. Our end will come to so let’s make the most of this time before it swallows us. But what gets me down, what causes me to be a depressed husband is the feeling that I am not myself in the world. That I have not succeeded in doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life. That I have suffered from too much self-doubt, too much fear, too much feeling like I am not good to have ever had a chance. I suppose I get depressed because I have not been able to materialize the kind of life I would like to have for myself and now I have to settle for second or third best. I’m not a good loser even though I think of myself as one.
You see, I am not very motivated by money. Making money as the sole reason for doing something does not interested me. I am not interested in playing the money making role that is so much a part of American society. The game makes me feel like I am not being myself and this is a feeling I can’t seem to make peace with. Does anyone? Would alcohol be as popular if people felt good about doing this?
I am a creative person. I like to think of myself as a weird person. An artist. I enjoy expressing myself and saying and making things that are not conventional. I hate being conventional but in a sense, have carved out a very conventional life for myself. I feel alone in this even though everyone is doing it! But I feel alone in my struggle. I feel alone in my inability to be proud of myself. I feel alone in my despair. If I talk about it, I feel pathetic. Or I feel like I am taking things for granted and no one wants to hear it. I do myself a disservice when I talk about it. I am putting myself down in other people’s eyes and this makes me feel more alone. But that is ok. This is a part of who I am and I suppose that I just need to be able to feel better about being this depressed, existentialist person.
But I am not fit for normal society. I do not like it. But I am disappointed in my own inability to get myself someplace else. I took some wrong steps along the way. I didn’t work hard enough. I didn’t stay the course as an artist. I had too much self-doubt. With a father who is always telling me that I am wrong for doing the things that I want to do, I never had a chance. BUT now I feel like I am getting closer to being able to do the things I want to do anyways. I have been beaten up bad but I am starting to feel like I have the strength and ability to get myself off the ground, climb up to the ship’s wheel and steer the ship in the direction I want it to go in. I am beginning to work harder for this. And to carve out a life for yourself that you are happy with in a society that demands getting on hands and knees (on the ground), requires much hard work and persistence. You must keep trying. Who knows, maybe this time it will be it. You must keep trying.
Everything I wrote above I am speaking to myself, by the way.
But on this Monday, I am the depressed, existentialist husband. I am tired. I am long ago burned out on the work I do. What I do for money wears me down. It is not what I want to be doing anymore. It is the same fucking thing, week after week. I look forward to my weekends on Mondays. I plan for Friday night on Monday morning. I cannot wait for the salvation of my weekend. But I never wanted to be this guy. This is not the path I wanted to take because it is the path more commonly traveled. I don’t like this. As an existentialist, I know life is short. I know all of this can vanish in a second so I have little time to waste. But fear and comfort tend to win out over common sense. Week, after week, I take the road more commonly traveled by most in this society of mine.
When I take a path that only a handful travel, the path of the artist, then I will feel happier with myself. So, I think. Who knows, maybe I will feel more alone. I don’t think so. I think happiness is when we accomplish our own goals for ourselves. I have a few goals that I have not reached yet. They are destinations which have always been in my mind. They say it is all about the journey and not the destination. That is bullshit. That is a saying designed to help you enjoy your mediocrity. Your submission. Not, it is about reaching your destination because the journey is, for most of us, brutal. It is the journey, a journey filled with abuse, illness, despair, submission, worry, unhappiness, pain, hard work, fear, self-doubt, terror, which is hard to be happy with. But I keep making the climb. I keep at it, not unlike Sisyphus. What choice do I have? I keep making the climb, going in the direction I want to go. It is a long climb. I take a few steps each day. For now, that is all I can do and I can only hope that time and god and whomever else is involved will grant me the ability to make it to the top.