Philosophy is a convoluted subject. Mostly asshats want to speak on the subject. I’m aware. It feels redundant to intellectually chew on the minutiae of existing when you have real problems like sustaining life in a capitalist, economically driven society when you could very easily not give a shit. Breaking myself down through an established form of identity, I’m a high school graduate who has traveled a lot while touring in a punk band; a so-so writer who’s written a good bit of unpublished literature; and I’m currently a cook at a tex-mex restaurant and bar. I seem unfit to write about coping with depression and the seemingly counter-productive use of existentialist philosophy in daily life. But… fuck that noise. Formal education is a derivative of classism and an archaic limitation in our modern world. If you can read, retain information, compare different information, and be objective during the comparison, then you can speak on anything that holds the construct of certainty. So I’d say I’m a good individual voice to speak on the subject because I’m miserable, depressed, and a person mostly aware of self and the conflict of being.
My life is shit. It’s a struggle every day. Granted, not a third world struggle with impending violence or starvation as a part of my daily experience, but I work non-stop to own nothing, make art, and keep a low credit score. I rarely feel akin to anyone. I live in an uncanny valley where everything is slightly off and people seem to just do what they’ve always done and expect to not be miserable; spite a history of misery. The path I see ahead and behind seems wrong; very buried and suffered by tradition. I’m miserable from the lack of honesty in social discourse and relationships; the lie of freedom; and the priorities projected on me by other’s created abstractions. Yet despite the perceived insurmountable odds, I stay busy, level-headed, and a fully functioning depressed freak of Alabama. The reason is simple. I keep a conversation going with myself; a debate on what is abstract, what is concrete, what is being, and what is perceived self.
This creates a projected identity of an unfun, aloof character. A lot of my friends give me shit. I hear, Yeah, Charles doesn’t like to have fun, prolly once a week. This comment and comments like it are passive-aggressive complaints about my view of the seriousness of life.
What they forget is that I’m also usually the funniest person in the room, the drunkest person in the room, the hardest worker in the room, along with being the most serious person in the room. Life isn’t a binary experience but it seems neater to roll things up into these singular expressions of identity. It’s lazy and idiotic but I do understand. Most of us went to public schools, were partially raised by cable programming, watched the same iconic films of our time, experienced cultural events through parents, teachers, and family friends who in turn were products of a similar but more primitive version of the same system. We are fed binary reasoning from birth to death. It’s the easiest way to make sense of the complex incalculable variables involved in the constant definition of self and projected identity and having to coexist with others who are dealing with the same struggle. Binary social indoctrination keeps the object versus being conversation mysterious and unspoken which creates discord between self and the perceived model of our hive. This shit creates alienation and stokes anxiety, depression, and an estranged forceful dread of the distance between self and ideal self. To empower yourself and navigate your way through this shit show of a world, all you have to do is deconstruct your oppressor or conflict. The frailty of all the powerhouse constructs and abstractions has an adverse relationship with the mental, intellectual, and spiritual health of the individual. So say, fuck them, and live well as an estranged member of the hive.
A good start to the deconstruction of the oppressor or conflict is to have to talk about what we believe and why we believe it on a basic, This is why I get up in the morning and I’ve arrived at this point because... and that’s a conversation between contemplative self and autopilot self. Most live in autopilot world. Our eureka moments don’t come often and when they do, they create major crises.
We cling to objects, abstractions, and constructs to form our identities and when our eureka moment comes and the view of those precious things alter, our footing folds and so in turn, we fold. We have to be honest with ourselves and let go. That can be literal or figurative. You can still have possessions, be in relationships, and work on getting your credit score up so you can in turn live a more comfortable lifestyle but keep in mind, you are in a constant mode of active definition participating in a social construct set in place by other people drunk on constructs as well. You can also get rid of everything you own if you’re the type who lives a literal lifestyle. Personally, I live in between the literal and the figurative lifestyle.
You are nothing but the choices you make according to the objects you perceive. This is contemplative self. Your identity is the concrete identities you assign to abstractions, constructs, and objects in which you surround yourself. This is autopilot mode. To be clear, it’s not a point of shame but a point of reference. Comfort is needed when the mind can’t be still, and comfort comes from alleviation of struggle or discord. Familiar things are comforting. Concrete things are comforting. The ethereal nature of abstractions like love, money, success, and feelings are not consistently comforting, so we unconsciously assign them concrete identities. When those abstractions fail us in being concrete, we become miserable. The severity in that misery is powered by our belief in the concrete abstraction. We got to keep it in perspective.
Another way to tackle misery, a cosmic absence of grace, and depression is apathy.
Keep in mind, it’s a mix for me. A little deconstruction. A little bit of intellectual babble. A little bit of weed. A whole lot of alcohol. Sprinkle in hallucinogens a few times a year. I’m in the middle of all that.
The who gives a shit method can work if you give yourself to it fully. It’s the very undefined approach I took the past few years until I could articulate why I defaulted there. It usually only works with artists, musicians, shitheads, junkies, winos, and deadbeats.
I paid my bills, kept up minimal relationships, tried to keep myself idealistic, and I focused on effective artistic output, but every chance I got, I nearly drank myself to death. It’s been a long dark road tipping over into this type of careless breeze. In 2015 fifteen alone, two nights of drinking ended with me in the hospital and a doctor telling me I should be dead. I’m not proud of the .34 alcohol content I blew in Athens, Ohio. I’m not proud of the two days I spent in the Huntsville Hospital. I’m sharing because people need to hear other stories to validate their own narratives. Drugs and alcohol will only take the edge off your anxiety and depression. It’ll take the edge off till you’re a wheel, then you’ll just be rolling your miserable ass down a road of destruction.
It’s tough and what really sucks is our parents can’t really articulate the pain of existing. The pull in all directions. The pressure to perform. The pressure to procreate. The pressure to pair up and be miserable like all the other adults who are beat and worn to the bone. Your parents don’t have the tools, because they weren’t given the tools. I doubt there will ever be a major movement in a American society to focus on happiness, fulfillment, or enlightenment. It’s counter-productive to what makes this country so “great’. It’s counterproductive to the global economy. We all have to agree on the lie for it to work. That’s how constructs function. You have to believe for it to exist.
So now that it’s 2016, who are you and why are you not the best you can be? Deconstruct everything, find your center, and don’t be afraid to live your ideals. Do right by those around you, but you don’t have to live their lives. You’ve got one chance. There is no god and there is no reward for being a humble worker bee.