Monday, June 20, 2005

I'll Have the Lobster Bisque. Now.

One of the biggest barriers to my own happiness appears to be a general misunderstanding of the importance behind knowing what I want. I know, it sounds idiotically elementary, but I don’t believe it is. And I don’t believe I’m alone in this. It’s a complex problem with almost infinite variables, and it’s a virus that we all carry. But some show more signs of infection than others. I'm covered in the stuff.

The simple example would be an indignant encounter with The Soup Nazi. He has a long line, streaming out the door into the weather. But his soup is absolutely delicious. So you wait in that line. You wait… you wait… and then, hey, you wait another five goddamn minutes. Eventually you hit the front, and there he is, staring down at your tired ass: knees locked, threatening to pass out from weak circulation.

“What soup you want now?!”

“I, uh…”

Fuck. While standing in that line, your brain apparently cut loose. You neglected to make a decision concerning your soup flavor. The vegetable beef with that corn broth. Or the lobster bisque. Maybe the New England clam chowder. And oh, it smells so good… licking… the lips… so succulent…

“Hmm. Let’s see, I guess I’ll have the-”


What? Who?

“But, I was just… I wasn’t, it’s just that the line made me…”


Too pokey with the demands, man. The dude behind you pushes you to the side and immediately drops his order with military precision. He’s going to get some of that deliciousness. Plus he didn’t waste thirty minutes in that godforsaken line. But you? Oh no. Not you. You get muscled out the door by the moving crowd. Empty handed.

Aw shit. Mickey D’s again. Damn.

A more complicated example would be: whatever the hell you decided to spend your time on when you were sixteen. Did you realize, especially back then, how much of an influence that would have on your happiness today? Did you? You seriously believe that you understood the “grass is always greener” cliché? The ultimate killer of happiness? Really? Did you honestly consider what your opportunity costs were going to be, before making every decision, as a teen?

Well, you can lie to me, but don’t lie to yourself.

Two general examples, both intended to display the extremes, and regardless of their different surfaces, both have the same fundamental problem with malformed decision making skills. Both sixteen.

One is Jenny. She’s a cello virtuoso, lead soprano in the choir, Vice President of the Chess Brigade, and a strong candidate for National Merit Scholar. Her most commonly used phrases are “sorry, but I will be prepping for my PSATs that weekend”, “you should never take a right on a red”, and “no, seriously, what is a blow job?”

The other is Chad. Chad already beat Vice City twice, can roll a joint while driving, just got promoted to Head Creamer at Marble Slab, and takes most Fridays off from school (you know, to wind down from the week and shit). His most commonly used phrases are “I’m gonna be a fucking rock star, just wait“, “this job is total bullshit, man”, and “ dude, what the fuck?”

Ten years down the line, both come to the conclusion that they are victims of their own inability to make an honest decision for themselves. Regardless of appearances, both are equally ignorant as to what they will eventually enjoy in life, and what paths must be found to get there. Both are on diametrically opposed modes of autopilot. And both are equally lost, starting at the delicate age of sixteen.

It will take ten years for Jenny to shed the desires and expectations of her family and the institutions which propped her up. She will find out what a blow job is. She will stray from her path, burn some things down, and eventually risk everything she has ever worked at in order to “find herself”. This will probably include a really slutty trip Europe, and maybe a two-year crank habit. She’ll learn though. She’ll find her way clear of everyone else’s decisions, and learn to make her own, based on her experimentation with “what” she “wants”. She’ll learn the importance of being comfortable with having others disapprove of her actions, as long as she believes in what she’s doing. She will force herself to discover real confidence, forged from successes brought on by her own will, rather than the completion of tasks handed to her by others. She will build her own person, and always wonder what would have happened to her if she had only known these things when she was sixteen.

Chad will toss and turn through the following ten years. Falling about, this way and that. Never really sure where he is going, or what the point is. After being allowed to drift for so long without being taught the proper discipline necessary to helping one figure themselves out, he is left with no clue as to what he wants from life. He’ll take odd jobs. A telemarketing gig here and there. Probably become a sales rep for plumbing products until he gets fired for nailing the owner’s daughter (or something equally well thought-out). But he’ll figure it out eventually. He’ll figure out that all those distractions were just that: distractions. And that no one else seemed to care whether he was happy, so it’s obviously up to him. He’s been locked up long enough. He’ll have to shed that laid-back party-boy exterior and buckle down. He has to discover his real talents, and explore interests which are not dictated to him by popular culture. And he will, even if it kills him (probably in county, if it does). He will look back on his days as a sixteen year-old with strange curiosity, and wonder how he ever got by back then.

There’s no map, script, or schedule to the thing. It’s a mess, as it should be, with some being messier than others. Some “get it” with amazing ease. It hits others just before their last breath. Many never get it at all, or never even consider that they didn’t have it back when they were sixteen (and certainly haven’t acquired it).

What do you want? What is YOUR point? What is it you NEED to feel?

You don’t want to wait this whole time, through this whole life of criss-crossing situations and potentially wonderful relationships without asking yourself what you want to order. You don’t want to spend all this time and effort, just to get to that counter to have some douche balloon slap it all away…


Me? I’m leaning toward that lobster bisque. I hear it’s the shit.


Lycan said...

I had a Jenny once. Started out all sweet & nice, then just like you said, figured out who she was and who she really wanted to be...which turned out to be a real shallow, self-centered, selfish misandric bitch. Then she decided that she hated her dad and guess who that got transferred onto. Unbelievable.

Thank God I jettisoned her long ago.

oscar said...

You said "Head Creamer" heh heh heh...

Truecraig said...

Lycan: We all meet a Jenny-in-transition at least once in our lives. I have some other theories on just how your average Jenny discovers what is she is after. Those theories revolve around the slutty trip to Europe and the onset of a crank habit. Contrary to how it may sound, I see it all very healthy and necessary. But as a guy, it certainly bites to be involved amidst the transition.

Oscar: That is quite possibly the most profound comment you’ve ever left to any of my posts. Here’s some more material to keep you going: Penis. Vagina. German women stuff good sausage. Even gay men love a good fish taco. I need to get the tailpipe on my charger cleaned out. The blacker the berry, the sweater the juice.

Don’t pass out with excitement now.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was fourteen years ago. I could say that I got lost in the shuffle for a while. Some will say that I still am(depends on who you ask). yup, I never whould have never guessed that I would be where i'm at by the time of thirty. I never pin-pointed on what I want to be doing, but I had an idea of how the situation would be. As you know, still working on getting to that part. Eventhough through the fail ventures in the past, one is bound to work right? Never give up...quiting is to easy.
I had a run-in with Jenny before. After it was all said and done, she left me frazzled. oh hum.
brother nick

Anonymous said...

inspiral carpet "two worlds collide" DAMNIT!
brother nick

Zander said...

Funny, I've always thought I've mainly encountered two kinds of people in life so far.

There's the ones who never realize that they don't know what they want in life and just kind of muddle through it, mildly content at best, or miserable and confused at worst. And there's the ones who convince themselves they know exactly what they want, and once they get it, can't understand why they aren't happy. Which basically sounds like Chad and Jenny. Scary how you can sound like such a spaz one minute (in a totally endearing way, of course) and then write something you could have pulled out of my head. Except I feel like most people don't have the balls to come to any realization and make changes eventually. Which is why older people are all such assholes.

I figure the best I can do is figure out what I want to do NOW (as in the next 3-6 months) with an idea of how it'll affect the rest of my life, and let the rest sort itself out. At least that way there's fewer regrets and I'm always having a good time. Right? Maybe?

Damn, thought I had the meaning of life for a second there.

Point is, I liked your post.

Truecraig said...

Brother Nick: You’re in the process of discovery, just like the rest of us. Sure, you didn’t follow the cattle trail that everyone else was on when we were sixteen, and that’s why you’re in a different place. But you’re no more lost than anyone else your age. Believe me. In fact, because I’ve known you so long, I would bet that you are far closer to understanding yourself than many of your contemporaries. Keep on truckin’ brother. Keep on keepin’ on. I got your back.

Zander: I’ve never been described as a “spaz” (endearing or otherwise), but I will certainly take it as a compliment. As an extension of my post, and a comment on your comment: I believe that no one fears death, but that they actually fear their life will end before they do whatever the hell it is they want to do. That is to say, if you’ve done everything you ever dreamed of, you’ll be comfortable with the idea of two-stepping with the Grim Reaper. And I agree with you, that many older individuals are pissed off because their sun is setting, and they are realizing that they have not figured out what they want yet. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Sean said...

A two year crank habit typically leaves Jenny unrecognizable as such. Not really something she can ever recover from. check out this series of before and after photos, for instance.

I make all my decisions based on a ten-minute time horizon. I figure anything important can wait at least ten minutes. 3-6 months out? Dude pass the crystal ball.

Truecraig said...

Yo, Sean, keep our family photos out of this discussion please. I have a rep to protect. Aayyyight?

You know what can't wait ten minutes? Sky divers.


Anonymous said...

im scared of all of these questions and answers. "Won't sombody pleassse think of the children!!"

seriously though, I often times come to the obvious conclusion that these are questions and answers that usually don't involve action. ive settled on my own private "pet-philosophy" that dictates that the "atom that is most active will have the highest potential of being smashed."

the trouble with intellectualizing your specific spiritual/mental/emotional/psychological/phenomicalogical self is that the same problem a dog has chasing its tail. Or the difficulty a T.V. might have trying to watch itself sans mirror.

I guess it all depends on what your puntos de partida is? If you want to look at the house with the white picket fence the german car in the drive and the 2.2 kids as being what society has expected of you then you might miss out on the possibility that society actually has told you that its even possible to figure oneself out at all. Really, seriously, we are not static beings. And as you well know im struggleing with these issues as well. But i think the hapiness(or comfort you may be seeking) comes from a place devoid of the trappings of life. You've already alluded to "purpose" and ive heard you speak about your "passions" but maybe its as simple as incorporating these things into your life. maybe its just a cold beer and a vacation. maybe it'll never get solved? But maybe just maybe it doesn't exist at all???

Truecraig said...

Anon: Sure. It might not exist at all. But then again, none of this might exist. It might all be little more than a really filthy nook in the recesses of my imagination. But those are almost pointless extremes. If happiness is a mirage, and unnattainable, then what the hell do I feel whenever I do WHAT I WANT? WHAT is that feeling then?

It isn't drugs, magnetics, humidity, or me tricking myself. But it doesn't happen often enough for me to study properly. So I synthesize it, in the meantime. Happy hour anyone? Here? Hello? Alrighty then.



Anonymous said...

We need to discuss this topic over a couple of drinks. Sure, drinking won't solve anything but, it sure helps make for good times. Since most situations can't be played back in "slow-motion", drinking would be the next best thing to make it all seen better.

brother nick

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