You ever have one of those days where you’re sitting at work, doing some mindless, repetitive job that a monkey could literally do, if there weren’t monkey labor laws, and it just hits you — this sucks. This all sucks. You wake up at 7am or earlier every weekday so that you can come to this shit job so you can work for eight hours a day, working next to people a 19th century psychoanalyst might politely call “mongoloids,” and then you’re out of work and all you can think to do is buy beer and pizza and watch ridiculous reality TV until, well, you don’t know, because you fell asleep at some point and now it’s dark outside and you’re not sure what day it is anymore. Then you get up off the sofa using broad physical motions usually seen on a K’nex set in a 7th grade physics class, take a piss or a shit or both, and then shuffle to bed, it being maybe 9:30pm, you being maybe a less than stellar version of humanity.
And let’s not even think about the weekend. Friday comes and the thought of being drunk makes you drunk before you even clock out. You hit the bars with the mass of a freight train, and before you know it, it’s Sunday and you’re sitting in a shitty diner nursing a coffee, wondering where the hell the weekend went. You’d save up for a nice trip, but that would just mean no weekend cocktails, and then what would your weekend be like?
But now you’re sitting at your desk, your coworker blabbing on about the stupidest shit you’ve ever heard using human language phonemes, and you’re aware. It’s like something parted the consciousness fog you’ve been in for, oh, the latter part of your twenties, and you’re aware, and suddenly you’re scared for your goddamn life. People two hundred years ago died ten years from now. If you lived two hundred years ago you would clearly be dead, because people who did repetitive, boring shit like this never made it. They were weak. Now we live in a country that supports weakness, as it is malleable, easily folded into lumbar-supporting ergonomic chairs and skull-squeezing phone headsets. And you know this. You’ve just allowed yourself to become too soft, and suddenly days turn into weeks, and weeks into years, and you’re 27 years old and you’re a little worried you might’ve fucked your life up.
You try to think of the last time you were truly happy. College graduation? No, you felt despair then, the despair of someone who realizes too late that they’re fucked, and grasps for the straws of that last sweet year of eighteen year old coeds and guilt-free keggers. High school? No way, too many cliques, all of them better than you. Middle school? Sometimes you think your drinking habit comes specifically to block out middle school. Soon you’re wracking your brain, trying to think of when you were last happy. All those times you were drunk don’t count; being drunk doesn’t really equate to being happy. You search through past girlfriends, but happiness then took a backseat to trying to understand the female brain and trying to not get cheated on. Elementary school? Is happiness even considered back then? Kids just go and play, there’s no happiness equated into it.
So it hits you — you’ve never been happy. The concept of happiness is, to you, just that, a concept. This is the most soul-crushing thing that you can think of, short of actually being crushed by a large object. Then other failures start to fall on you like a despair dog pile: you’ve never traveled. You barely left your home state just a few years ago, and the thought of visiting, say, India, scares the shit out of you because you know those Indians will take one look at you and know you’re a big fat failure, and an American at that. You have no friends … but that’s not so bad because who does have friends these days? But then you think about that, about how no one has friends, and how everyone spends their nights chatting away on the internet, and it just makes you sick and sad at the same time.
Your parents … you try not to think about them. Sitting in their armchairs, old enough to say they’ve lived a good life (even if they haven’t), old enough to watch TV and eat pizza and drink beer. They’re not wasting their life, they’re enjoying the last few years they have left on this earth. When you come home to visit they ask what you’ve done with yourself lately, and you have nothing to add from the last visit, and they look at you with that look only your parents can have: loving, but with a hint of pity and slight anger that the combination of their DNA hasn’t gotten an Oscar yet, or written a symphony, or became MVP of their favorite sport.
This all happens while you’re at work. Don’t forget. In the span of mere seconds, this all comes crashing down on you, a miasma of existential bullshittery. You’ve gone from mindless to mindful, too mindful, thinking about everything. Is my toothpaste good for the environment? Did I put the parking brake on? Does my girlfriend hate it when we have sex? How many cheeseburgers can I eat tonight without getting too fat? Is this all life has to offer? How many people will visit me at my funeral? Will my coworker ever shut the fuck up?
Eventually the thoughts become too much, and you decide right then and there that you’re going to change. Your life is ripe for it. You’re going to quit your job and start doing the things you’ve wanted to do in life. You’re going to travel. You’re going to book a trip right now, for some faroff, exotic location, take up a new language, flirt with a coworker, drink a fancy drink with an umbrella, take off your shirt and run around the room, get a tattoo, show the world that you’re not asleep, you’re awake, goddammit, and you’ve got something to show to the world.
Then, almost instinctively, you check your bank account.
… Well, maybe you can fill up your gas tank and drive to the coast?
Then your boss brings in donuts and you forget every problem you ever had.
Maybe that’s when your happy. When you have donuts.