“You don’t have to amuse the world by destroying yourself”.
Again, I’ve written something down without giving proper credit to the author. Perhaps it was me in a moment of lucid thought, perhaps it was a period of time that I was lost reading a book and with total disregard to the author scribbled it down for later use. Or we can just be honest about the whole quote, they’re just words, who knows where they came from, who knows who is going to read them next, and more importantly, how they’re going to strike the minds of the next people that stumble upon it. One person might read that statement and thing “that person is a fool, destroying yourself for the vanity of others is stupid…”
…or…the next person might just read the same sentence and think, “damn, I’m not amusing myself, how can I be more self destructive.”
Thus is life, living on a perpetual stage, always being the clown, never being the audience. That was me for a really fucking long time, and honestly, I feel that most people have gone through stages, years, decades, whatever, of their lives that they feel like they have to be “on the stage” and acting a part, even if they don’t feel qualified. I, for one, have tried to play the clown, and although it wasn’t easy for me to realize, the end result was that I made a really shitty clown. I couldn’t act the part, I couldn’t fake it, I was just…well. awkward. I was stuck in this sort of amusement paradox that could never be solved. I was never “it”, I never played the role just right. It made me mad, it made me sick, it made me want to throw up my hand and proclaim “I give up, I can’t act anymore.”
And, well, that’s sort of what happened, but not quite as dramatically as it seems. I guess it was sort of like watching a sitcom that you have your favorite character and then all of a sudden the new season comes along and the character that you learned to love was replaced by a person that looked similar, not the same, but close enough to make you believe it was the same person. Dialogue was similar, the wardrobe was the same, but the person was different. At that point you had to make the decision if you’re still going to like that character, albeit the same person, just in a different shell. For me it was the opposite. I was the same shell, just different person on the inside. The person on the inside that came out didn’t exactly match the shell that it was hiding in.
In all actuality, the shell that I was hiding in was way uglier that the person that I was in the inside, and once I broke out, it was a bit scary. I had no place to hide, I was without a shell, I was without sanctuary, I was just, well me….a me that I had forgotten was there. A me that I had neglected to nurture since I was about 18 years old. It was odd, the revelation that I had, looking in a perfectly average mirror in a perfectly average Honda, I saw a me that I hadn’t seen in years. Although I was older, I had worry marks on my face, a certain tired look about my eyes, and a totally different hair color, it was a me in there that hadn’t been seen in a long time.
I looked at myself and saw happiness.
As uncomfortable as it was for me to look into the mirror (because I was actually making sure there were no bugs in my grill), I realized that where I am, where I’m going, and where I have been have all been and will be learning experiences and I can choose to use them as a noose or as a grappling hook to get me to where I want to be in life. It’s my decision to be hung by the past or hang my hopes on the future. Presently, I’m looking at a pile of mail that wants attention, an email box full of responses needed and my feet are cold, but is that going to make me more interesting? No.
Is me going out and having seven martinis and making friends with total strangers going to make me more interesting? Maybe, but only for a short while to people that don’t matter. This is the light bulb that finally went off in my head this afternoon, how much time do we waste trying to entertain those that don’t mean squat to our future? How much time do we sacrifice trying to amuse the world when we could be bettering ourselves?
I didn’t think deeply about it until coming back to my office after being gone for almost two weeks in paradise. Sitting at my desk I scanned the perimeter. A half burned anti-stink candle, a houseplant that has gone crazy, a bottle of mylanta, three spiral notebooks full of musings and quotes from random people, and a stupid llama made of bottle caps.
“this is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
-Chuck Palahuink (or something to that effect) -Fight Club
So, truth be told, I’ve seen that movie more time that most people live in years. It’s not that I was obsessed with the movie, it was just what I dug….at the same time, I’d also binge watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. In retrospect, as a teenager I could have been doing much worse things like drugs or getting pregnant or winning some sort of academic accolades, but no, I wrote books and watched these movies in the background. Was I a typical teenager, no. Did I have a plan, not really. Did I care? Yes. That’s where the problem started, I felt like I should be amusing someone.
The less I amused the world, the worse I felt about myself. It consumed me, it followed me into my adulthood. Before I knew it I was twenty and thinking less of myself than most people feel after robbing banks or stealing candy from kids.
“You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”
-Fight Club (again, last time, I promise)
It sucked, I’m not going to lie. I thought life was supposed to be grey, I thought I was supposed to kick rocks and feel depressed. I allowed myself into a deep dark hole that never really existed in the first place. The primary problem was that I surrounded myself with people that kept me in that dark hole. I was imprisoned by this invisible force. I was a decaying piece of matter that didn’t matter to anyone…at least that was perception to me…and we all know perception is reality. I wandered through my twenties trying to fill that darkness with something, anything, only to find a darker black than I was facing before. I was hopeless, scared, and my only retaliation was to try to amuse the world more and more using my own destructive behavior. Like that first quote reminded us “amusing the world” meant destroying myself.
I realized this destruction almost a year ago to the day, and although it wasn’t exactly my proudest moment, it was probably the moment that saved my life. I realized that I couldn’t be the clown anymore, I had to take care of me, something that i had never really taken any mind to. Me? Really? I was worth paying attention to? Yes, and only for the reason that people will respect you more if you respect yourself first. Strange concept, but it was true, it took some bold moves, big moves actually, but I followed through. With a pickup truck and a strong will I moved on with life. Swallowing my pride, throwing away what I had worked for, I walked away. I turned my back and made the proclamation that I was done being an entertainer. I was done acting for the sake of others, it was time for Nikki to come out and make some noise.
Most people know the superficial me, the real me likes to shop at thrift stores, eat macaroni and cheese, drive with loud music on, and the most important to me; love. It’s in my nature, it’s in my soul, it’s me. It’s been difficult, however, because the only way to show love it to be able to get it back…and unless you have a dog, it’s hard to really equivocate the feeling it gives you. I can tell you, as far as humans go, it’s hard to find that same connection – – but when you do – – it’s the most powerful feeling you’ll ever experience. A dog will live maybe 12 years if you’re lucky, a person, however, once you devote your heart and soul into it can last a lifetime. That’s where I am now, it’s amazing…
I don’t want to entertain the masses with some sort of phony show, this is me. I’m no longer going destroy myself for the sake of others, if anything self preservation for the sake of longevity is the first thing on my mind. I don’t write cheesy stuff, often, but when I do, understand that it’s one of those things that has to be pinched out – like a freaking zit or something – once you pop it you feel better.
(that’s pretty nasty, but I think it proves the point)
I looked over across the sunset,
and remembered when our eyes met.
I had nothing to offer or to borrow,
however you decided to follow.
My actions were jerky at first,
and I assumed the absolute worst.
I then realized what I was feeling,
was an emotion of actual healing.
You brought a salve to my soul,
one that made me entirely whole.
I graduated into a new being that day,
even though you had to go away.
I woke again the next early morning,
and remembered your warning.
Don’t get too wrapped up in thought,
and that’s the battle that’s being fought.
Maybe I’ve been reading a bit much Bukowski, but hell…everyone feels better about themselves after reading some of his stuff. Read “Love is a Dog from Hell.”
I promise you’ll love you’re life afterwards.
As for me, I’m going to remain happy, and I’m not here to amuse.