There are times when things feel utterly, irrevocably wrong. Water tastes horrid. Morning birdsong is as pleasant as French rap. And the ultimate: you don’t even want to log into Facebook.
Welcome to your Existential Crisis.
It sucks. It sucks bad. Even though you know that not everything in the world is trying to tax us (just the stupid things thrown in our faces on a daily basis), all that constant WTF-ery can – and often does – lead to a ton of WHY BOTHERs. Too many WHY BOTHERs and you’re in a swamp of vanished expectations.
Take heart, beloved angels, because hope, indeed, exists outside of shelved Obama campaign signs. You can mind the signs of the modern existential crisis, and in minding them reverse their harmful effects.
1. Music Becomes Just Noise
Does music sound as if it’s traveling through sludge? Are you unable to appreciate a funky beat, a hellacious guitar riff, soulful lyrics (real soulful, not Michael Bublé dimmed light stuff)? Would not even Sartre doing a drum duet with Tito Puente move you?
You’ve entered the Crisis Zone.
Your psyche has shattered to the point where you’ll even listen to Top 40 radio because, to you, what’s the difference? Remember, though, that music used to transport you. It engaged your brain and made you want to sing down to your very atoms. “All art,” and I’m paraphrasing Walter Pater here, “aspires to music.” Walter was probably naked in the rain at the time, listening to drops perform their own brand of drum solo.
The soul can’t exist without music, so for blessed’s sake, put on some righteous tunes whether you want to hear them or not. Tell your brain to shut up for a bit. Shut up and listen. The undying spirit of Tito Puente has no time for existential foppery.
Art is vital.
2. Work Is Torture
You don’t want to go to work. That was short, wasn’t it? OK, so you never want to go to work, but still, this is extra.
Fine. Additional: Capitalism sucks. Under the influence of an existential crisis you’re aware of the crushing inhumanity behind all economic systems. You weren’t born to wake up in a house you only own through the use of finger-quotes, drive a car that’s more a benefit to auto insurance companies than it is to you, work at some company whose only purpose is regenerating itself ad infinitum like some perverse overblown mutation of Doctor Who, and you certainly have no plans sharing the only quiet time of the hellish work day – that being the sacrosanct lunch break – having to listen to Mouth Open Lou chew and talk about that procedure he had done recently, no matter how frikking marvelous medical science is now.
The existential crisis easily defines itself as the ability to be everywhere and see everything but still have to go to work.
Personal fulfillment is vital.
3. Hygiene Takes A Back Seat
Getting to work means you have to put on clothing. Eyeroll. Groan. Strong cuss word. What day is it? You’ve worn clothing for, like, an entire week. At the back of your mind, floating like a ghost tethered to the grey, is the realization, today, that you’re down to your emergency underwear. You haven’t wanted to wash clothes. Not at home and certainly not at a laundromat. NEVER go to a laundromat when under the influence of an existential crisis.
If there’s a 3-week old pile of perfectly good underwear evolving in your bedroom but you’ve got half a waistband and papal fabric (holey) sitting forlorn and alone in an otherwise empty drawer, you have reached stage 3 of your crisis: Hygiene is optional.
If you reach a point of actually considering the viability of turning the papal undies inside out after you’ve worn them (and let’s not pretend that you’re not going to wear them) you’ve reached stage 4: No F*cks Given. The slippery slope.
No F*cks Given lengthens the stay of the naturally-occurring existential crisis into a full-blown case of ennui which, owing to ennui’s emo poesy (ennui, n. – a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement), is magnitudes worse than run-of-the-mill E.C. An E.C. will, like most transient illnesses, run itself out; ennui is self (and fashionably) replicating.
You’re so jaded you could write the book ‘How To Be Everywhere At Once And Still Not Give A F*ck, Or: No Matter Where You Go, Who Gives A Damn You’re There?’—being an account of you being sour and joyless whether at a glorious, intimate concert, viewing a procession of chanting monks, inside a new and excellent pizzeria, or even in the Infinite Space.
You don’t see wonder anywhere, and you fail to be amazed. Even sexually, you fail to be amazed. You should be amazed that anyone even bothered to have sex with you with that attitude of yours. But sex is just performance theatre for you, and not even good theatre, the recently-graduated college drama student kind. Boobs are pointless. Wangs are idiotic. And, by gods, those faces. You’d rather save the ergs of energy for staring at tree limbs at the mercy of a breeze.
Know what? It might be better for all involved if you simply took a nap. Do it.
Rest is vital.
5. Napping Becomes A Pastime
You might be under the throes of an existential crisis if you’re taking frequent naps. More catatonia than nap though. Pop off for a bit then come back to the world. The coming back is important.
Unplugging is vital.
6. Humor Doesn’t Humor You
Do you find life humorless? Guess what? It isn’t. Not every pleasure is yours to feel, nor every sufferance. The joke is that, given time, one always teeter totters into becoming the other. This life is a vampire…but that also means you, you wonderful, complex meatbag of godlike propensities, are a lovely, vibrant neck. You’re alive. Right here, right now, and pretty much forever if you eschew the common linear temporal view. Sometimes you have to say that out loud, not to the world, not to the universe, but to yourself. Do it. Out loud. And mean what you say. Five simple words.
“I am alive right now.“
Pair that with doing something pleasurable for the benefit of nobody on this entire planet, but you in the act of doing it… and you’ve got a prescription a hundred pharmaceutical companies couldn’t hope to replicate.
Existential Crisis as constipation and gastrointestinal reflux: heck, you’ve felt worse after too many beers on a hot day. You’ve, as the kids say, got this.
It’s not a crisis ‘til you forget you’ve been on the other side of it many times.