Five-thirty in the morning – even the sun, the undisputed center of our universe hadn’t rubbed the sandmen out of its eyes, but I was artificially woken up by an ear piercing, devilish device and, somewhat robotically, I would begin to put myself together for another day. This is the price I paid for the comfort and luxuries that had been afforded to me; that I’d been taught to work hard for and seek after my entire life. I’d become obligated to drag myself out of bed and go to work so I could pay to watch possibly three of the nine-hundred cable channels that were streaming into my home projected through the fifty-five-inch flat screen television mounted on the wall. So I could afford the iPhones and laptop computers that required over-priced internet bills and data plans; the car payments, mortgage payments and utility bills; weekly grocery costs and various child expenses. On top of that, the maintenance of it all ushered me to obsessively mow the lawn in distinct patterns and compulsively clean up the house so for a few brief seconds every night I could look around, feel proud, and think to myself, “I’ve finally made it” while sporting a mendacious victory grin; so for another day I could fortify our image and convince myself we were a young and happy family beginning to blossom.
I wore sunglasses I paid one-hundred and forty dollars for because it made me feel more important and successful. My wife had designer purses and more makeup than the counter at Macy’s. I thought she loved me for being a provider; I thought that’s what she wanted and what made her happy. I thought that was my job as a man, but I was sadly mistaken and completely misinformed. In all reality, between phone, wallet, and accessories; the jeans, shirt and shoes – before I even made it to my car in the morning I was wearing five-hundred dollars every day just to fit in with society and the workplace.
Unenthusiastically, I would get into my thirty-thousand-dollar vehicle and tune in the satellite radio because terrestrial radio wasn’t good enough for me anymore; I’d become accustomed to my music being commercial free and my talk shows being uncensored. The car appeared to be set on auto-pilot and transported me about half an hour to my less than desirable office building where I’d spend most of the day bound inside an eight by eight box; which was just one in a collective sea of these torture chambers. I stared at a digital screen and listened to the sound of a hundred phones simultaneously ringing; all sorts of pointless, time-killing conversations and company gossip transpired outside the tiny space I was banished to; some days the drama that occurred in that place was worse than being trapped in high school. But they paid me around eighty-thousand-dollars a year to put up with it so I kept going back because it was “stability” and the means in which I could keep all the “stuff” I had – it also provided all the resources I required to feed my dark habits; the protocol I followed to numb out everything I had to do in hopes to sustain the deceptive life masked as the ultimate human experience; a life I couldn’t seem to find the true purpose or desire to be present for.
So what happens to anything built on counterfeit footings or is completed with a fraudulent keystone interlinking distorted truths? Collapse. It’s inevitable. The structure’s not capable of continually bearing the load of lies and eventually it all comes crashing down. I traded the opportunity of genuine, lasting human connection for the temporary luxuries that society shoves in my face every day and deceptively ensures true happiness and gratification – all these ways to distract myself from life; the need for constant entertainment because I couldn’t sit with myself and my thoughts comfortably. For me it was alcohol that took me out of myself, for others maybe it’s television, food, exercise, sex, or always having their face planted in a cell phone, frantically checking social media every ten seconds and managing a thousand different text conversations. Everybody is addicted to something. We’re the most connected, unconnected generation and being detached from others in that sense is the kryptonite for any addict or alcoholic in recovery. Hindsight would be a priceless entity if the lessons learned could actually be a foresight. I would have been happier crammed into a studio apartment with my family; connected and engaged instead of having the house, cars, career, and reputation with all the pressure and tension that goes along with it; the foible attempts to keep that insanity all glued together. Sadly, hindsight is what it is and the best I can do is not let history repeat itself as I venture out to restart and rebuild a self-inflicted, devolved life.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Thomas Edison