Saturday, March 7, 2009

Is Change Here?

The past few weeks I have been stuck in a sort of K-Hole of the soul. Inert. In suspended animation. Not really moving forward, too afraid to look over my shoulder. Wallowing in my own neuroses, the same ones I had resolved to magically eradicate come January 1. But as much as we like to think we’ve changed, some things resolutely remain the same. And instead of changing, we end up simply shifting gears.

It could be that I’m hoping for a sign that I’ve changed, and can then go ahead. I haven’t been able to write so much, and have been too enervated by the aforementioned malaise to seek out material. I have to believe that I have changed, but the pessimist in me says that change is really only incremental, that most of us are doomed to walk the stage, acting out with sound and fury this goddamned idiot’s tale, conforming only to the template God, along with a little nurturing in early childhood, gave us.

I realize how abstract this sounds, it is the very abstractness of the problem which has allowed it to pervade every aspect of my mood. I know it will pass, like the cumulonimbus clouds plaguing the sky, and kommt Fruhlung things will be different. But as adult I am quite resentful of the fact that I have to exercise like a dog in order to stabilize my mood just a little, and feel happy. As a child if you had told me that happiness is such a moment to moment thing and that I would actually have to pay to join a gym to feel good, I would have laughed, and would have felt vindicated in my prophecy that I wouldn’t live past my 35th birthday. It’s so reductive. I mean doesn’t it show just as much dependency as taking a pill? Life as serotonin reuptake factor. How boring. On one level, it seems as if you’re really in control. If you’re feeling low, just go for a jog or lift some weights. But to spend a lifetime at the mercy of one’s hormones seems a bit cruel. In the past, when I have felt depressed, and hit the gym for a shot of instant well-being, it seemed simply to ameliorate the problem, not to cure it. On the surface, I felt energized and in control. But on a deeper level, I knew exercise was just a palliative, because it was an edgy, angsty energy. I was covering up, not getting at the root of the problem.

Maybe it is necessary to take exercise in order to have the wherewithal to go ahead and deal with one’s problems in life. From what I understand therapy serves much the same function. Being in a stable long-term relationship provides a similar sense of well-being. Thank those blessed "love endorphins." (Are we really no more than the sum of our parts?) But modern life is so fractured and fractious that finding such a relationship is night-on impossible. The few people who have found such a union tend to carp about it endlessly, or be so saccharine in their smug complacency that they alienate all but their closest family members. Money and success, too, are slippery slopes. Just ask the Bernie Madoffs of the world (OK, I know I’m being naïve and simplistic, but hear me out).

So what is the recipe for happiness in these long winter months, for the lonely, the lost, the disenfranchised? Hope signified in a random smile from a stranger? The knowledge that we’re all stuck in this cistern together? Hedonistic chemical self-indulgence? Fucking the pain away? All of the above? Talk to you when I get off the treadmill…

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