Life According to a Struggling Optimist

I was roaming the streets of my city and everything smelled of hot garbage and wet farts. There was a really bad song on the radio, as there often is, and I stuck my head out the window of the car, loudly mocking the singer. I received many strange looks from pedestrians, but as the vanity plate on the car beside me said, "Ima Be Me". I started thinking about the years and trends that have passed and wondered why rock singers still sound like they did 20 years ago. There's not much room for innovation in the world of tame, radio rock. It seems there is a long-running competition to see who can say "yeah" the loudest through clenched teeth.

"I said uh hey yeah, aw hah ye-eah" I yelled while riding past a full parking lot of people who surely didn't get the reference, but this is how I act when I'm hungover. I don't whine & beg for aspirin, I eat something greasy and refuse to even think about anything that requires more effort than sitting or chewing. Alcohol has been a friend to mankind for thousands of years, what kind of friend would I be to let a minor disagreement affect such a strong, lasting relationship?

The double-edged sword of heavy drinking has cut into me on several occasions, but I keep on going, beer after beer, shot after shot. Being a quitter is not something I pride myself on and I'm far too hard-headed to let a rare, groggy morning or uneasy stomach stop me from having a good time.

I'm hooked on fun, without it, you're just being boring. For me, fun usually means getting together with a few friends and talking about things while playing games or preparing a meal, of course for me there is usually alcohol involved. Being sober in a crowd of people is really difficult for me, I freeze up and become incredibly self-concious. It doesn't help when everyone notices either, I learned a while back that I don't hide my emotions well and a well-intentioned "what's wrong?" often puts me into avoidance mode.

You might see me at a show sometimes, sitting by myself, staring into space, but I promise it's nothing personal. I run out of things to say, become overly aware of my silence and start to mildly panic. The panic grows until eventually, I'm just sitting alone, waiting for time to leave. It's part vicious cycle, part self-fulfilling prophecy, but it all boils down to being uncomfortable around people. I feel bad about it, but I'm working on it because I don't want people to think I don't want to be around them.

It probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense hearing this from me, considering what I do with my life. I grew up in the middle of nowhere with no one my own age to interact with for most of my formative years, so I'm really good at talking to myself at this point. That explains why I can host a podcast, but can't usually start a regular conversation.

Writing is pretty easy to me because I view it as being a lot like talking to myself through text and I grew up around stories. Whether it was my Dad telling me the wild tales of his younger years or my Mom's collection of mystery, mythology and poetry books, I'm quite familiar with the art of storytelling.

Mankind has always loved a good story and I'm usually more than happy to whip one up right on the spot, but my mind often races and being the center of attention only exacerbates that. If I'm drinking, my brain slows down and I relax, inhibitions flee and I act more like a regular person or at least how most people appear to me, calm and content.

I realize that I can't go on using alcohol as a social lubricant forever, but until I figure out another way, my liver and pancreas are working overtime. (Thankfully, I come from a long line of outlaws and general badasses, so I'm not too worried.) It's not easy being Hideous, but if it was, more people would do it and there's only enough room in this plane of existence for one of yours truly. If you believe in alternate realities, somewhere out there, a thin, outgoing version of myself is taking care of his kids and checking the stock market. I bet he kinda sucks though, probably really enjoys the bands I mock when I'm drug out in public while hungover.

For all my faults and shortcomings, I still do alright and it's important to keep that in mind. I have a lot of friends who put up with my bouts of nihilism and even some that remind me of how much cool stuff I've done when I start to forget. We all struggle with self-doubt occasionally and fall into ruts that we can't fully explain, but the important part is getting back up when you fall, not that someone may have seen you fall.

I'm slowly understanding life more and more with each passing day, but trying to convey the meaning behind my epiphanies in a coherent manner is somewhat futile; even my closest friends don't understand me sometimes and that's alright. We all have to figure things out for ourselves, but if you can manage to help someone "fix" themselves, go for it, I'm sure they'll appreciate your effort and the fact that you care.

It's important to let people know you care, even if all you're doing is giving them a call or inviting them to dinner. Apart from striving to be the best person that you can be, what matters most is living life to the fullest and helping others do the same, even when that means being awkward among friends or making a bad decision. That's life and it's imperfection is perfect, just like our imperfections.

When it's all said and done, no one is really going to care what you say or do at a party; people will be much faster to remember things like kindness and wisdom. The first step to repairing everything that is wrong in our world is to show ourselves as much kindness as we hope is shown to us; it may be a difficult task, but I know it's worth all the effort.

Of course, I don't apply this same philosophy to art because as pretentious as it sounds, great art often comes from a very dark place in someone's mind. The reason we create is out of necessity, whether it's to maintain our own sanity or to present the world with something it didn't know it needed. Whether the world actually needs some guy to yell "Ah heh heh yeah-e-yeah" over the same chord progression as every other song on the radio is anyone's guess, but if nothing else, I need it to amuse myself and whichever friend is driving us to get food after a long night of drinking.

After all, if I'm not gonna be the one to make people at gas pumps look around in confusion and laugh at the weirdo in traffic, who will? They'll go home, chuckle and say, "you know, something kinda weird happened earlier" and give birth to another story.

I might be quiet and standoffish to some, but that's who I am and there's nothing wrong with that; accepting your own faults is much more important than pointing out the faults of another, no matter how much it might make you laugh. Ultimately, we're all we have and we've got to accept that, warts and all.

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