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The Pursuit of Carrots

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Pursuit of Carrots

Thanks to everyone who took the time out to answer yesterday's post, "Demographics."  Though it really didn't tell me shit.  The six people who responded were among the 12 people I was counting.  As the too-kind Esther M. pointed out, the only people who read this are my friends.  Except... I don't know fucking 400 people a day.  But regardless, thanks to Esther and Duane, HollyJackJimRob.  Really what do I care where the 400 daily hits come from? Could be a fucking autobot.  As a crazy ex-wife of mine once famously said, "I don't care if anyone likes me, I just want to be popular."


Yesterday, I found this article posted on the Facebook, about why happiness is not actually possible:  It's pretty fucking brilliant.  Mostly because it validates what I've been saying for years, and the main criterion for my declaring something "brilliant," like everyone fucking else, is agreeing with my point of view.  Also, it mentions carrots (happiness being the proverbial chase and stick), which have been on my mind a lot since I found out from fellow writer and ex-prof Tom Hazuka that those nutritious, supposedly healthy baby carrot snacks aren't really baby carrots at all; they are edible parts salvaged from rotten carrots, repackaged and sold back to a gullible public.  And this really hit a nerve.  I hate being played a fool.  I feel like one of those dopes paying $6 extra for "organic."

Anyway, add this to the list of reasons why I will never be "happy."

Back in my drug days, my buddy Troy (The Batman) used to say that "wanting to be 'happy' [is] not a grown up expectation," and I'd tell him to shut the fuck up and let me borrow his car so I could go get us dope, because back in those days, I believed one could be happy.  It just took enough money, drugs, a big enough party and never coming down.  I'd lived most of my life miserable, and when I got to San Francisco, full of piss, vinegar, and other various acids, I took off running after it. Because I could see it.  Big and bright, beckoning just over the horizon.  Like a rainbow...

It isn't the misguided path I took to get there that causes me the distress; it's that there was never a "there" to get to all along.

This isn't a depressing post, I promise (although you might have to read to the bottom).  Go back and read the article (and, yes, it's from Cracked magazine, but that doesn't make it any less true).  Contrast propels the illusion, up and down, right and left, the other validating...the other.

There was a study done apparently, where they found regions with the highest rate of life satisfaction coincided with areas with the highest rates of suicide.  This wasn't because of any severe fluctuation in mood; it was because living around all these goddamn "happy" people depresses the fuck out of you (see Miami).

Only, can anyone really be happy?  Or, like those baby carrots, is the concept merely a ruse, rot stripped away and repackaged, sold to a public yearning and desperate, because there has to be something more than miles to the gallon and 401K stock options, gifted junior or the success of your favorite ball team.  I once believed that.  And I've tried it all: religion, sex, drugs, work, only to return to the same place from whence I started.  A baseline of...meh.

Which isn't so bad (here's the "not depressing part").  It was the chasing and failing that was killing me.  Because it seemed like "because there had to be something more" that I was missing out on the party.  But there never was the party.  There was a party.  Brief moments of levity, tempered with fits of devastation, with lots of flatline filler.  Basically what my mother told me: eat right, exercise, stay in school (don't do drugs), and try to treat others like you'd like to be treated.  You get a family.  You get a house.  You find work that if you don't love at least you at least don't despise, and you visit Disney World as often as you can (I hope to take Holden next January, and every January after that, just like my mother did for me).

That was the not depressing part.

I don't know.  I'm not a bells and whistles guy.  The older I get, the less need (desire) I feel to get out there, and the more comfortable I am inside, with my family and my stories, my basement gym.

But when I am forced outside, sometimes I see kids, 20-something hooligans who remind me of me.  And they might be passionate about a man wrongfully imprisoned, or they might just believe rock and roll really can change the world. But I don't begrudge them.  All I think: Good luck, kid.  I hope you fare better in your quest than I.

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At August 10, 2011 at 9:25 AM , Blogger Ron Earl Phillips said...

Joe, we all take that long walk -- though some take it at a sprint -- of life. I think we can be happy. Not as a goal, though. When you quantify happiness you will most definitely begrudge others of their moments. You just need to be aware of it, when it happens. You don't find happiness it finds you, if only fleetingly.

At August 10, 2011 at 9:33 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

It could also be semantics, Ron. I think what I used to call "happiness" has changed as I've gotten older (wiser?) Words like peace, calm, and content have replaced it in my hierarchy of needs. And I agree wholeheartedly about it finding you and not the other way around. The moment I stopped running like a spaz, good things started coming into my life. And unlike earlier, the less I stressed it, the more they've seemed to stick. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.


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