Int. New York City Apt. - Night
The Meaning of Life.
I'm in bad shape. I'm looking out at myself and feel it all falling apart, no matter how hard I'm trying to hold it all together. Maybe it's just the September blues, or the bi-polar/manic-depression kicking in, but whatever's going on it's hard to concentrate.
I can't write this now. Not in this state.
Morning. Back now. Things look better. I've just been having a rough time of it lately. It's a yearly thing really. Every September as far back as I can remember has had me go through the wringer. And as is par for the course, September is nearly over before I even got used to it being here.
I've locked myself away for the last two weeks and just tried to write. It was an agonizing process. I took every opportunity to do all this other miscellaneous nonsense and made excuses to myself. I wasn't sure what I was afraid of, what it was I was trying to avoid, but I had buried myself beneath research and outlining for long enough. It was time to get something done.
So I started, and it was awful and difficult and my eyes darted around the room, as my mind raced. I couldn't help but think of all the other things I needed to do, the people I needed to call, etc. So I slapped myself back into action and pushed through it. It sucked, but I got a major chunk done and I was happy.
But it got me to thinking for this column. Why was it I was having such a hard time finishing these projects? I thought long and hard about it. More distraction I suppose, but I think it helped. I realized that I had changed so much since these projects began, and that I had somehow lost my connection to who I was when I came up with these ideas.
I was always idealistic. A romantic utopian even. Naive? Certainly, but filled with a nearly inextinguishable hope in my fellow man. Then came 9/11 and something had snapped in me. I remember sitting there for days on end, glued to the TV and computer monitor unearthing any shred of information I could find on anyone and everyone involved. This led me down a path filled with conspiracy theories, human rights abuse, civil liberty abuses, and on and on. I became disillusioned and often found myself in the middle of shouting matches with co-workers as our soldiers invaded another country.
I felt insane, or more to the point, sane in an insane world. But what's the difference really? Here I was, a lone voice calling out to any who listened about the injustice going on world wide and I was consistently ignored by peers. I made meek, veiled threats against the government and Bush in the secret hopes that the FBI, who had their Long Island branch right next to the office I worked at, would come and pay me a visit.
But they didn't. Nothing happened. I didn't reach anyone, or help enlighten anyone and I became more distraught. I would never reach them, I could never change anything, or help anyone. And that's all I really wanted to do for as far back as I can remember; help people in the best ways I could. So I gave up. I retreated and withdrew. I gave up on politics for the sake of my stomach and surrendered.
In doing so, I think I lost something vital to me. Something that gave me the drive to write. The drive to live, really. And that was my passion. My passion to help and learn and become involved with others. I just wanted to exist and live as happily as I could without wanting to curl up into the fetal position and check out mentally. So I did like the Romans did, and ignored it all with a drink in my hand. And kept on drinking until I didn't care.
I was happy, distracted by free movie screenings, my fair share of drugs, and lots of late nights at the bars. New York City is full of things to keep your mind busy and unthinking. That introspective nature just doesn't give up so easily though. It crept up on me and started making me sad almost at random. Something wasn't right, and I needed to figure it out.
So I went back to what's always helped. The words. I just kept writing and writing until all the junk sitting on top got cleared away and I could see what the problem was. I had lost direction. I had lost who I was. I had given up trying to help, given up on trying to get something done. My passion for life and writing and the world at large was just about gone. So when it came surging back these last few weeks, it was quite the shock. To be honest, most of this I'm just putting together as I write this right here.
Hopefully, trudging through the next few weeks will see me back and whole. I have lots of lofty goals set for myself and I'm not getting anywhere sitting here spinning my wheels. There's a world that's outside this window here and it's not going to wait for me to catch my breath. And I know everything I write these days seems like a manifesto, a declaration, a call to arms, without the surging forth of the troops into battle. But each one of these columns brings me closer, and every two weeks in-between I get more and more done.
I may not be able to hurl all the world's nuclear missiles into the sun, but I know I can make a difference. Even if it's only to those around me, but then again, they're the ones who deserve it most of all.
This column is dedicated to Chris Chua & Diana Zuluaga, who have had faith and encouraged me, even in my worst moments. Thank you.