The Fool-Proof Guide to Failing with Flair

Everything you need to know about getting it wrong.



I don’t like that I still have really shitty days sometimes. The kind of days where getting out of bed, taking a shower and making coffee feels like a triathlon, but I still have them. Today has been one of those days. I was still in my pajamas at 2:30 pm and I spent most of my day crying through DVR recordings of the first 2 episodes of The Voice and playing levels in Candy Crush that I’ve already beaten. On the bright side, I did write a little here and there throughout the day but it was mostly even more depressing than this. I finally got in the shower around 2:45 and the warm water loosened up my sinuses and brain a bit so I decided to take advantage of the pause in my self-thrown pity-party to do something more productive. It may only be marginally less pathetic to whine here, to you, on my blog than to cry about a contestant on The Voice choosing Blake over Adam, but I still consider it an improvement.

I poke fun at myself for lots of reasons. One, because I really do see my world the way I write about it. I interpret life in visual metaphors. It helps me stand apart from my problems a little. Sometimes it even helps me process my emotions and move forward. I haven’t been all that adept at processing and forward movement lately but writing seems to be helping. Another reason I lampoon my own shortcomings and failures is because it often comes down to “laugh or cry”, which has, at times, come precariously close to “live or die”. I am choosing, with this blog, to laugh and live. It would be nice to think that I am making others laugh and take their own problems a little less seriously as well but I will settle for just making myself feel better. And I will grab every inch of sanity I can reclaim, with both hands, and hang on as if my life depends on it. Because some days it does.

You may read this out of boredom, loyalty, sympathy, or because it has sucked you in like some awkward train-wreck reality show. I’m even willing to entertain the possibility that you read my blog because you actually like what and how I write.  Why you read it doesn’t really matter though. I just appreciate that you do. I don’t know whether or not misery really loves company. Mine usually prefers solitude and whiskey. Insanity however, is an extrovert, and most days my crazy has a whole lot of fun doing this. The process of writing is frequently painful and frustrating but I’m loving it. I’ve been loving it so much that, the whole first week after I started, I was having so much fun I didn’t go grocery shopping, make any necessary phone calls, wash any dishes or do any laundry. I have that problem with new relationships. They impair my life-keeping skills. That’s a topic for a whole different article though. Today I want to keep it depressing.

A few days ago I watched a YouTube video of Louis CK on Conan O’Brien. In the video he is explaining, in his brilliantly sarcastic and insightful way, why he doesn’t want to get his daughter a smart phone. At one point he talks about that lonely, empty place we all have inside of us and how this relatively new phenomenon of being constantly, electronically connected doesn’t allow us to feel our own loneliness and move past it. Some of my private, less joyful writing has addressed the hollowness he describes in almost the exact same words. I don’t have a heartbreakingly funny story about pulling over to cry to a Bruce Springsteen song like he did, but his articulation of that void echoed my own. Writing and emptiness.

I think every human since the dawn of time has had that hole. We all try to fill it up in different ways: alcohol, drugs, sex, religion, adrenaline, humor, anger, relationships, children. The list is endless and at least partially compiled of destructive forces, as if we are trying to blast away the loneliness with soul dynamite. Those destructive forces tend to end up leaving us feeling even more hollow so we continue to shovel in the explosives until we can’t feel anything but the empty space. We stay in bad relationships or become addicts or develop eating disorders or body-image disorders, all in an effort to avoid feeling alone or unwanted.

I have spent a lot of time contemplating my own void over the last few moths. Sometimes I feel like I am standing on the edge of an abyss, staring down into endless darkness. Those are the bad days. Even the bad days aren’t quite so bad anymore though. My brain seems to be working again after taking a hiatus for the last few years and I’m no longer running away from my life. I am starting to realize that the empty space is not actually empty at all. It has all kinds of hidden treasures. I am not religious in the least but I am fairly certain that God dwells in that place. Instead of trying to fill the hole now, I have started to go soul spelunking. So far I have discovered that writing makes me happy. It’s a start.

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