am I OK?
This is the question I get asked the most nowadays. Certainly when posts online stop being predominantly jokes about the NFL or filtered photos of babies doing funny stuff and start being drippy, gloopy bullshit painted rectangles with captions like “exist. I. do. not.” the question sort of begs itself. That and the bizarro, yet totally cliche, year that from age 38 to 39 turned out to be… a seemingly constant drip of great news followed by shit news… you tend to reshape your expression a bit.
But that’s really not what the question is about, right?
The question “am I OK?” is about authenticity and freedom and sincerity or rather the lack thereof. Our hyperconnected world and our American society’s obsession with brand awareness led to this confused and in-authentic mediation between people (and machines.) Listing all the causes of the mass delusion of what I’ll call the brand of My of Endless Happiness (M.E.H.: the American Dream!) is a waste of energy (as mathematicians do listing trivial causes is left as an exercise to the reader.)
MEH has us all engaged in small talk, trivia and endless duckfaced happy posts from all the fun things we’re doing instead of communicating. MEH has us all outraged at the outrages we all share (death and taxes from Presidents!) - those things that are mostly removed from us and outside our direct control - instead of VOTING. MEH has us big box shopping on Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays and whining about credit card bills in January instead of MAKING THINGS FOR EACH OTHER. MEH has us reading Fifty Shades rather than, well, GETTING IT ON.
and so on without so-ing on!
No, I’m not OK! OK is MEH. OK is eating Bennigan's left overs watching Game of Thrones binging while playing Angry Birds (that’s a madlib, insert your own CHAIN RESTAURANT, POPULAR TV, FAVORITE PHONE APP).
OK is watching GOP circus debates and ranting online while passing up the last 6 local election cycles because INSERT EXCUSE.
OK is ok, it’s normal. It’s buzzed but not drunk nor sober. It’s brohugs and not embraces or yoddles/chants. It’s regrams of misquoted inspiration not climbing that mountain 5 miles from your house. It’s watching TV not playing jazz with friends. It’s OK not GREAT! AMAZING! FUCKING PISSED! BUMMED! DEVASTATED! ENGAGED!
And it’s ok. It’s perfectly ok to want OK. It’s OK to be ok. Sometimes, ok is exactly where to be. Sometimes it’s 100x better than not-OK.
Am I OK? Maybe. Sometimes. here and there.
Above all, I’m trying to engage. That’s it. Chasing experience. Being a Maker and Doer rather than an mostly an observer and critic.
Am I sad? sometimes. People die. People get sick. People hurt. Animals hurt. The world and life is hard.
Am I desperate? always. Desperate to exist. Desperate to renew my own agency.
Am I depressed? sometimes. Self diagnosis is generally a bad idea, but I can tell you, yes, I have been and do get depressed and darkness descends. And the times when it does… as far as I can tell it’s because I’m sitting there OK. and letting life happen to me.
Am I drunk? sometimes. sometimes more than others! probably more than I should be in quantity and quality.
Am I happy? not that often, but at least once a week. There’s two kinds of happiness, generally, to me. True joy… usually that’s experiencing something awesome with others. and then the little happiness… an espresso on Sunday mornings reading the NYTimes Book Review. (though that might actually be True Joy!).
Am I having fun? YES! Fun isn’t tickling and playing tag, though that is fun to do. FUN! is trying To Become Something, fun is Trying To Become A Person. Fun is being so bad at something you have to do it every single day unending to see even a shred of better than truly terrible at that something.
Am I Trying to be An Artist? No. Such a limited label, IMHO. I hate labels.
Am I Trying to be a Philosopher? Yes! But only for a limited time. Philosophers like Politicians make poor career titles… the idea of making a career (bring home the bacon) out of something that literally should be blowing up careers seems like a recipe for MEH.
Am I Trying to have a Career in Anything? No. I have tattoos on my hands (the things i use to DO STUFF) to remind myself of Information Destiny. Everything is Information. I am trying to Inform My Being. Always.
Am I Authentic? No. I’m trying. Each day I’m trying more and more to authentically engage myself and the world.
Am I Free? No. None of us can ever be free of contingencies. I think Authenticity and Freedom go together. And they are a process, not an end point.
Do I Want My Endless Happiness? No, absolutely not under any terms do I want MEH. I do not seek happiness at the expense of authenticity/freedom. Life is life (ugh, tautologies…) life is struggle and competition and birth and death and growth and shrinkage and change and stasis and highs and lows. It’s hurt and joy. It’s fast food and gourmet. Literally life exists on the border - the jagged blurry line - of order and chaos.
So to answer your question, no I’m not ok. Are you?