The Zest of Life Is Not In Me

I just don’t like things. I sat down yesterday and tried to concoct a list of my favorite things. Some of it was the usual stuff: songs, books, TV shows, etc., and for the most part, I had a very difficult time.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be too alarming, but I’m starting to think I’m broken to the point that I can’t enjoy anything. My favorite book was “Holes” by Louis Sachar. I read it when I was in middle school and read it a handful of times over a three year period. However, I have yet to discover a book I like as much. My tastes have evolved – I prefer reading autobiographies and biographies now. So I tell myself that’s why I haven’t discovered a book I can’t put down. I told my 7th grade English teacher, “I don’t like books with a lot of adjectives and details”. I don’t like “the spotted dog ran, limping down the street with his tail wagging”, I prefer “the dog hobbled down the street” – I’ll insert the details, you just give me the gist. This way things can move along faster and I can get things over with. All those details muddies my mind and removes my creativity. If I imagine a dog, I imagine a brown critter with big eyes and an average tail. I do not want to know that it’s a black scottish terrier and has a white belly – those are details that I have to remember for the rest of the book and it fights with my imagination. This is why I can’t stand most fiction novels.

My favorite TV episode of all time is “The Loaded Goat” from the Andy Griffith Show. In the episode, a goat wanders into town and eats some dynamite being used at a nearby construction site. The acting Don Knotts (Dep. Barney Fife) portrayed in his sheer horror of having a goat in town that could go “blooey” at any moment was a real shining spot on acting in all the years people have been acting. It’s widely regarded as one of the funniest episodes of that show and of classic TV. But, anymore, I can’t find much else worth watching. I like Glee and Desperate Housewives, but none of those shows make me laugh out loud like I did when I first watched episodes of Andy Griffith. Glee has Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch, and she does make me laugh, but it doesn’t quite compare. It’s only  because she says what I often think that I find her funny.

When I tried thinking of my favorite pass-time, I realized I didn’t have one. The best I could put down on paper was “sitting in my lawn chair”. I do this usually after I’ve mowed the lawn and I like to sit and enjoy my work. I don’t think that’s normal or healthy.

A lot of people get on my nerves, really, really quickly. I can have a pretty fiery temper – I get it from my mother, who could go off on anything – and it’s what drives me to loathe people who are perpetually late or don’t display some form of loyalty to me or a cause. This is probably why I can never have employees – I’d get ticked real quick when someone showed up late just because they overslept or “just didn’t move fast enough in the morning”. What lame excuses. Sure, alarm clocks fail, but if it happens every week, buy a new alarm clock.

I tried putting down my favorite song. I finally decided nothing rocks my boat quite like the live 1997 performance of “Tumbling Dice” by the Rolling Stones. Everything about that song is just stellar and it’s like sex for your ears. Then, I realized that it’s a 33 year-old song and nothing I’ve ever heard in modern times has really caught my attention. To me, everything just sucks. Songs, movies, TV – it all sucks.

I know it’s cliche, but sometimes I feel like Steve Jobs. He famously owned a mansion in the early 1980s and had no furnishings beyond a lamp because he couldn’t find anything he liked. I’m not so anal that I can’t buy things simply because I can’t find anything else I like, but I’m close. I only buy things that “fit” into my life somehow. It drives Brandon insane that I can be so utilitarian about everything. I don’t like needless clutter, knick knacks or “stuff”. Someone called my living room “sparse” once. That pissed me off. I’ve seen sparse – that’s when you have your 13″ TV on a TV tray and nothing else but a recliner and a lamp in a room that’s got twice as much space. My rooms are full and I’d call them “purposeful”.

Speaking of money, I loathe spending it. It prevents me from doing most everything. If I had a million dollars, I’d still probably only spend $40 a week on groceries – and I tend to cook most all of my food and shy away from boxes, bags and other processed crap. For some people, spending money is just something you do in part of everyday life – to me, it’s painful. I spent 5 minutes at the store Friday comparing boxes of Benadryl and comparing the net weight to the cost and active ingredients because I wanted the best buy. I literally feel ill when I see money being spent. It’s why I can’t look at the gas pump anymore – seeing those numbers roll around makes me want to vomit. I’m not exaggerating about that.

To see people spend money on drinks at a bar is beyond my brain’s capacity for understanding. If you’ve ever spent money on a drink at a bar or restaurant in excess of $2 (which is still too much), I’d tell you that you paid a “stupid tax”.

That lack of money flow, not because I don’t have it, but because I hate spending it, prevents me from doing a lot. Eating out, drinking, traveling, shopping, going to shows, etc. I’ve never been to a beach, but I’d love to go. But, I could never get there. Knowing how much the gas would cost, the hotel rates, food and everything else just makes me sick. I’ve tried figuring up plans before and I can’t even finish. I always end up saying, “You want me to spend how much for a small room with a bed for 24 hours?” I refuse to pay for things beyond what they’re worth to unhealthy levels. It’s why I call Comcast every 6 months to get them to lower my bill. It’s why I call my insurance agent every year and say, “I can’t stand this three digit number – I want it lower and how do we get it lower?” The answer is always the same – I can’t get it lower – but it doesn’t stop me from trying.

That’s not to say I don’t spend money – I’m looking at removing the carpet in the living room and throwing down hardwood floors. But, it’s a move that I expect will raise the value of my house and in turn, save or generate revenue. To me, everything boils down to, “Does it work in my favor? Is it useful?” Going to the beach sounds like fun, but I know I’m just going to end up back here. Those floors, however, I look at those every day.

Like Homer Simpson once said to Marge, “Why do you want to go out for? We’re just going to end up right back here.”

The zest of life, is not here. Some people enjoy life or relish the fact they get to get up each morning. I do not. I do not believe in life after death – when I’m dead, I’m dead and that’s the end of me. I have perhaps an unhealthy acceptance of death to the point that I don’t care if I died tomorrow. I’m perfectly fine with that because I know my absence isn’t going to be that profound.

When I do die, I want to be cremated and my ashes stuffed into a confetti blaster – preferably during a Stones concert when they perform “Tumbling Dice”.

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Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

2 thoughts on “The Zest of Life Is Not In Me”

  1. As I read this I could not help but wonder how you’ve managed to “deal” with me for three years. I’m dancing dangerously close, at times, to being your antithesis.

    That being said, all that you posted about could be fixed by spending a week in the woods alone. Dance, sing, “waste” time (as if that were possible), feel the rain and sun as they were meant to be felt. I promise that by time you are done, it will all be more to you than simply photons, dirt, and water. You need to soften the jagged edges of your world. This is why the myth and the abstract are more real than the facts of Western science. Myth and ideas live and move in people, utilitarian stagnation does not.

    I know. I know. Inspiration, excitement, joy, hobbies, and all of those things that exist outside of the prison of responsibility and money don’t really work once you’ve picked them apart. Well, neither do cars, but I saw you drive one to the store the other day. This is not an advertisement for hedonism, but a reminder that the world exists outside of your box. Not everything is simply another cog.

    Also, you stated there is no afterlife for you. So if this is your only chance to experience humanity, or any form of cognizance for that matter, strive to experience as much as you can. After all, the numinous and the world will not judge you for spending more than 2 dollars at a bar, or forgoing your wood floor in order to take a trip. What is all of your money, all of your “things”, if even now the make you feel empty? You can’t take them into the ground with you. (Though it’s not hard to imagine you trying.)

    You won’t do these things, of course. I am another distraction who is running late, and displaying an alarming lack of loyalty and dedication to the world as you see it. I know this. However, you should know that you are too young to be so old.

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