There’s this game I like to play where I answer every question with, “But why?” It’s juvenile in the purest sense of the word, mostly because children are totally inquisitive like that (and I’m like that because I never grew up–only bitter), but it also forces people to examine their deepest motivations and, by extension, basically everything they’ve worked their entire lives to build. 99.9% of the time, the game ends with a long period of awkward silence finally culminating in a breathy “I don’t know.” It’s hard to explain the facial expression that accompanies this, but you can get something close to it if you make a frowny face and then add in a little smirk of creeping denial.
Go ahead and play this game with the people you know. Hell, try it on yourself. Chances are everything you’re chasing after in life is little more than a shallow illusion drilled into your head to meaninglessly drive you forward without purpose, just like those who came before you. Pro tip: Old people are comprised of 10% lint and 90% regret, so following the same road they went down is as bad of an idea as listening to their fashion advice. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say that taking tips from any group of people who go to bed at 4 PM is a bad call. Just saying.
The best part of this game is the mental gymnastic routine that comes out of it. As though completely unraveling someone’s reason for waking up in the morning isn’t enough, the days that follow become hilarious as they try to un-see anything they may have seen after you stripped away their prosaic platitudes and internal motivational posters of generic business-types giving them a thumbs-up. It’s a desperate scramble back into the warm, safe womb of ignorance, and to watch the cognitive dissonance involved in someone bending over backward to ignore the obvious while frantically trying to avoid letting their complete lack of meaning or direction in the world dissuade them from decisions they still feel obligated to follow up on is a magical thing. Like, “Tinkerbell in a blender” magical.
When I was in eighth grade, I volunteered at this home for old people for one of my classes. It was a depressing class and I don’t know what I was supposed to learn from it, but I did pick up on the fact that 90% of old people’s very existence revolves around regret, exactly like I said earlier. It’s a little funny in an uncomfortable “I hope I get struck by lightning before I get to this point” kind of way, but mostly just super dark since it’s too late for them to fix their lives. This is why we get ghosts, people. You all keep screwing up by living without a clear purpose because equally-confused people told you that it’s what you were supposed to do, and then you refuse to move on once you kick the bucket. Boom, insta-ghost. Even worse, chances are that the metric tons of regret and sadness you carry with you into the grave mean that you’ll all be the evil, tormented kind who throw books around and act like total jerks to innocent home-owners. Seriously, you all need to take a serious look at your lives and try to find a deeper purpose to live for. Otherwise you’re unnecessarily destroying the resale value of homes.
The point of all of this is that 99.9% of people are deluding themselves and buying into the myth of “one day at a time” as though it leads anywhere. The whole thing is like a mouse on a wheel, only sadder because so many people refuse to get off. Imagine a mouse so obsessed with the wheel that it dies of dehydration, wondering in its final moments why it never got anywhere after all that running. It seems like the only time the illusion is broken is when someone’s standing on a bridge, about to jump off. When tragic things like that happen, there’s really no choice but to reflect on the brevity and fragility of life and wonder what we’re all working toward. Moral of the story: more people should jump off of bridges. I might be taking the wrong lesson away from all of this, so go ahead and draw your own conclusions.