Oftentimes I would find myself on the brink of correcting someone on Facebook when they’ve made a particularly idiotic comment, but then just before I hit the Enter button, my hand would stop in mid-air, I’d press backspace, delete the entire thing, and say to myself, “Fuck it. Forget it.”
Something’s definitely amiss. The feeling’s strongest on Sunday mornings when I just want to sit in a chair and stare at garden plants with a retarded smile on my face.
I think the problem is that I don’t have a problem–not anymore. I used to have a collection–a library of problems! When I was younger, I would make a problem of just about everything: my coffee (“It’s too expensive, farmers died for this!”), the watch I wore (“It’s not working but I’ll still wear it because time is an illusion.”), the train (always been a problem that one), somebody’s boyfriend (“He’ll clearly not make her happy!”), rat carcasses on the road (“The perfect symbol for this rotten system!”), my spinster professor (“Projecting our arid sex life and general wish to die on our students, aren’t we?”), and stuff that everybody made a problem of–government and religion.
Those were the days! I could commute to school or to the office without listening to the radio or an “MP3 player” because I would be endlessly entertained by the hubbub of problems in my head. I’d be riding a jeepney and thinking, “Look at all these dead-eyed passengers just wasting away their lives going to and fro their cold cubicles when they could actually make a difference by saying ‘We’ve had enough! We’re crashing this pathetic jeepney into our pathetic buildings and torching our pathetic desks and stealing all the free coffee from the pantry!'”
Used to be I thought of things like that all the time.
I literally had stacks of journals all filled with my problems; they were written in volumes and could have served as an exhaustive catalog of humanity’s issues. The sheer size of the collection indicating the inordinate amount of time spent on such a dark, fruitless, lonesome activity would creep anybody out. My problems on love alone probably filled around three full notebooks. They discussed everything from the difference between love and lust to a theory about love as a disease that needed to be treated, sort of like the flu. They were absolutely fascinating! Because problems are fascinating things when written down or printed on paper, almost like old-school porn magazines. As an aside, it was always better to jerk off on those tattered pages than these gleaming cell phone screens.
But as I said, I don’t have those problems anymore. I wake up and the first thing I think about is not “Am I waking up to the real world or am I just a simulation like in The Matrix?” I wake up these days and I think, “Have I emailed that guy from the sales team yet?” And it’s terribly sad because that is not a problem at all. That’s a minor inconvenience or a daily task that may be bothersome to do but will nonetheless be accomplished that day or at some point in the future.
It’s not a problem.
Or it’s a problem but not a “real” one. It’s fake as hell.
‘Cause to me, real problems don’t necessarily seek answers; most of them have answers that are glaringly evident. Take for example the classic problem of: “Why do people keep on stealing others’ belongings when the world is already going to shit as it is?” That’s a legitimate problem right there and one worth thinking about leisurely while the very life is getting squeezed out of you in the jam-packed train. It can serve as a full-body anesthesia. You could spend an hour and a half looking at the different angles of that problem and trying to beat that voice in your head in a furious schizophrenic debate. That even though the answer is fucking obvious: “People steal because they’re poor as rats and even those who are rich still rob because they want more in this state of things where having more means having a greater fucking life. Having a big house is different from having a mansion is different from having your own freaking building and a private jet is different from controlling the entire country from your bathroom while you’re taking a shit.”
That’s a straight answer but nobody really wants that. It takes the fun away from nitpicking things that gnaw in our brains and our conscience. Straight answers are boring. The real problems are fun because they are never meant to be answered, only repeatedly considered in a semi-unconscious manner, like speaking a calming mantra, or squeezing a stress ball… or caressing your pet cat’s fur.
Something happened along the way–most probably aging–that made me lose all my precious problems. I think the overall lack of elasticity in the skin that produces wrinkles as one gets older extends to the brain, so that your once taut and springy mind progressively becomes soggy. And the physical sogginess of your brain matter is projected on your every view and every emotion such that your default face eventually starts to look like cold, overcooked pasta.
Of course, it could also be that thanks to your hard work and just the macroeconomics of it all (which you really don’t want to think about because you now have the attention span of a teaspoon), resulted in a pay at a level where the act of spending became more satisfying than questioning the ultimate purpose of spending. I mean, goddamn I can spend my wallet empty on Batman action figures without giving a shred of a thought! Who cares what you think of my hobby? Or what Marx would say about Batman? It’s the goddamn Batman for Christ’s sake! The Dark Knight that I deserve and need right now.
Sometimes, I also think it has to do with just being generally battered in love. I have a deep suspicion that love is the costly fuel that drives all goals and motivations in life. You don’t have love, sucks for you, because you won’t be launching any kind of revolution any time soon; instead, you’ll be sitting in a chair looking at garden plants with a retarded smile on your face. It’s not as fun to ponder love anymore and frame it philosophically or in some form of romantic literature when the plain fact is you’re just miserably failing at asking women out. Or outright getting seenzoned on Facebook. Or worse, unseenzoned (girl already posted three times that day about her cute, little puppies but still hasn’t opted to open your message).
And few men would admit it, but I sincerely think that every time a man fails at love or in romantic relationships, the damage is never confined to that space only. Rather, the ripple effects of that text message that was sent to you to tell you you’re a piece of shit that she would never date again touch on all the facets of your life: your work, leisure, morality, spirituality, in the very way your brain serves you the first thought of the morning. So that instead of feeling freshly intellectual when your eyes open, you just feel like you need another shot of Game of Thrones fan theory and a soggy McDonald’s cheeseburger.
I would like to craft a proper ending to this one but you know what? Fuck it. Forget it.