During the past few years of utter bullshit I’ve periodically heard a supposed Chinese curse that goes something like this: “May you live in interesting times.” It’s great because it sounds like a good thing at first — no one likes being bored and living in some bland period of history (like the early 1900s or something) — but upon further inspection it really is a curse. For the past five years at least I think the entire world has been living in “interesting times” and they are fucking terrible.
I grew up in the 1990s and those were really boring times. Looking back I should’ve enjoyed them more. Sure I was a kid so have some naivete going on but even looking back as an adult the 90s were boring. There was the Persian Gulf War (which wasn’t even a war like the shit we had in Afghanistan/Iraq) but there were no collapses of society, mass unrest, no stock market crashes, or major recessions. Oh, and remember Clinton’s impeachment over a blowjob? What quait times we were living in….
Then the September 11th attacks happened and that caused a decade of “interesting times” but even that seemed to wane into boringness around 2010. Looking back the 2000s weren’t even that interesting in comparison to today. Then there was more boringness for at most five years (the magical year of ~2015) and then the world spiraled out of control again. And in my life this year has been the most “interesting time” I remember living in: 2020 is total shit. Fear and dread and anxiety and uncertainty. Especially with COVID-19 going around causing society to grind to a halt, I’m reminded of a quote from J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.'”-J.R.R Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
Another Reddit “theory” that seems rather silly but also interesting is that maybe the Mayans and the “world ending” in 2012, well, maybe they were onto something?! Not that 2012 is when the world spiraled into chaos, but what if we shifted into some alternate reality where things don’t quite work the same as they used to? And we’re all left with a pre-2012 mindset stuck in this strange, new, and terrifying world that is the post-2012 disinformation age. I don’t take this idea seriously but man it seems that in 2012 the world got shifted into a parallel dimension where terrifying stuff happens.
I’m having more anxiety than I’m willing to admit, but I still am rather calm and collected about the virus. It’s not a big deal, personally, but I acknowledge that it is a dangerous situation. Every day I wake up to see another few hundred dollars wiped off my stock trading accounts, and the prospect that I could be out of a job soon is terrifying. The stock market is especially frustrating as I was shorting in the past two month and rolled into long positions way to early. Had I held onto the shorts with diamond hands I could have earned a few thousand dollars as society collapsed around me. Not that I’m hoping millions of people die so I can make money, but it’s happening and I might as well try to benefit from it somehow. God that sounds terrible; feel free to shit on me in the comments if you want.
I’m reminded of this post from the New Year (I can’t find it and I’m out of time). My ability to live perfectly in the moment one minute and hour at a time. Most of my current anxiety is looking ahead to the next few months just wondering how this entire crisis will play out. How will it end? Will society be back to normal in a few weeks/months or are we going to collapse even further into stasis while every waits? I hate waiting. I’m impatient. I’m insecure. As much as I bitch about the grind of everyday life, when it has been altered I feel myself on the very of some great unknown and it terrifies me.
Looking closer to the present, ala Alan Watts/buddhist style, things are okay. I have plenty of food, no one I know is sick, and I still have a job. I get to leave in a half-hour and load some airplanes. Luckily UPS and package shipping in general hasn’t been totally shit on yet especially as people might turn to online shopping for their fucking economy packs of toilet paper rolls. UPS keeps shipping packages no matter what. With all the excess around the holiday season I’m surprised to find myself in a “safe” sector of the economy, as if the excess in December also has a counterpart to it being essential. Not as essential as truck drivers, but still needed. “You are safe.” In this moment of my life — the one that is actually happening right now — I’m perfectly fine. I have food, I have water, and I have a year supply of nicotine because now is not the time for nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine also kills your appetite making the food situation even better going forward!
I’m not saying that things won’t get worse in the upcoming months, but as my therapist said regarding my anxiety, “Think if a thought is useful to have.” All this worrying and anxiety about the future isn’t useful at all and only degrades the part of my life that actually exists: the ever-present Now. And if/when something bad does happen? If I lose my job? If myself or someone close to me gets sick? Well, I can worry about it when it happens. I’ll scrounge up money where I can, maybe sell my stocks, max out the credit cards if I need to do so, and maybe negotiate some deferred payments with them. If society utterly collapses around me? I’m sure my instinct to survive and my creative DIY mindset will naturally kick in to where I start problem solving whatever comes up. Squirrels are edible I guess, and I know where to find fucking mulberries, but once again I’m reminded to think, “Is this thought useful to have?” Absolutely not. Stop rambling here and get on with your life. I need to leave for work now. Do I need to dress warm or wear a raincoat? Do I have my badge and my timecard? What is happening Now?
I hope everyone remains safe and healthy, and maybe most importantly of all, in a positive mental state during these strange and frightful times.