I’ve been struggling with nihilism lately. Which is odd for me because I’ve been a nihilist since long before I even heard the word. I remember telling a camp counselor when I was maybe 11 that nothing mattered because we were all disintegrating. Peppy little guy, I was.
All through my childhood and adolescence I embraced nihilism, it was a mental escape hatch from a terrible life. Even when I wasn’t immediately suicidal I took comfort in knowing I’d die someday and so would everyone who ever heard of me so nothing truly mattered.
But when I became an adult and had a degree of control over my life I found a sense of purpose. It’s easy to think nothing matters when nothing makes sense, until you’re in your 20s life is entirely arbitrary bullshit.
I think of my life in terms of a story I’m telling, most people do. Except they don’t care how boring their story is until they’re about 50. As any good story teller knows, you can’t have meaningless elements in your story. It causes me to feel this pressure for it all to mean something. My early experiences forged my current life and it has to mean something, my band fell apart and I lost all my friends and it has to mean something. But it doesn’t. Except that I don’t really have the reigns of the narrative, no one does. This is still all meaningless. And now I no longer find meaninglessness comforting.
After 30 years the story of my life was finally going the way I wanted and then it wasn’t. Because the story of my life intersects with everyone else’s and conflict happens when those stories don’t match up.
Rob told me after Greystone Gardens broke up that he didn’t need music as a crutch. I said I didn’t need music as a crutch either, all of the other chains of my life are the crutch. I have a job so I can pay rent so I can work on music. What the hell does anyone else do; have a job so they can pay the rent so they can… cheer for sports victories, watch Game Of Thrones, sit around thinking if their courage was ever tested they would pass?
I know I’m furiously dismissive of anyone without a noble sense of purpose. I also know all advice is autobiographical and I’m just pissed off at my young self who had all that desperate energy and didn’t put it to purpose soon enough. So now I’m dismissive of nihilists too because I spent over half my life using it as a defense mechanism and now I’m saddled with it as a life-view I’d prefer not to have.
My story could have gone on happily ever after if my sense of purpose could have survived Greystone Gardens lack of purpose. I can already hear the nagging voice of the reader spouting trite bullshit about the fleeting aspects of life making it more precious. Which is stupid. Fuck you reader-voice.
I’m guilty of a solipsistic world view, which doesn’t play well with the different personalities of others. I’m still truly baffled when someone doesn’t understand how I feel when I’ve made no attempt to hide it. My behavior should never surprise anyone, I don’t lie about anything. I blog about it for fuck’s sake.
And yet me and the world make no sense to each other.
No matter what the self help culture tells us, our lives are not under our control, we can’t be anything we want just by wanting it harder and faster. We all need the participation of others to achieve our own goals.
So I guess another thing I’m struggling with is the idea of incompatibility. Can some people just not work together and is that okay? How far should I go to accommodate others, or should I be forever searching for people who want (or don’t want) all the same things as me?
One thing I have taken from self help culture is that I never hope things will get better. Things get better because you or someone else made them better.
But maybe that thinking has been my downfall. Dan and I were talking about relationships a while ago and he dissuaded me from a narrative view. I had a common idea of modern love that you meet someone, start off very happy, settle to an equilibrium, then grow distant and resentful until one of you dies. But, Dan informed me, nothing is that linear in life and millions of seen and unseen things change a relationship all the time.
It’s a bit easier for me to take a relaxed, see-what-happens-attitude to romantic relationships because they’re not vital to my sense of purpose. It’s why I don’t get into conflict with my old, non-music friends either. I feel about friends, girlfriends, jobs, and pets the way most people seem to feel about bands. It’s cool if you have it but it’s nothing to worry about.
I need to be less cataclysmic about projecting current unhappiness forever into the future. Which is a pretty standard symptom of depression, I admit. But I also don’t want to give up my drive and make music a backseat in my life, that means that whoever is along for the ride can’t just be along for the ride.