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by R.J.Harrigan


We don’t want to die, but we want to escape life. Everything we do is an escape. We work to distract ourselves from being a person. We give ourselves false purpose. We play video games to live in other worlds. We watch television. We save up to go on trips because, “I need a vacation” is really, “I need an escape from my series of escapes.” Even this writing is an escape.

When was the last time you sat down and didn’t distract yourself with something? When was the last time you sat, and just were? Try it. Take a moment, keep your eyes open, and just be. Look around you, take it in. That’s you. It’s pretty much the only thing we’re sure of in life when you think about it. The only thing I can be sure of is that I exist, and I’m here. I’m convinced that other people are here too and that they exist. However, what I’m existentially unsure about is why?

Whether you believe that we evolved from a single celled organism, or if you believe that God put us here with Adam and Eve, or even if you believe that we came to this planet from space a long time ago, the questions is still clear, why us? Why you? Why me?

When we look around at nature, everything that exists, does so on its own. What I mean is, nothing in nature needs anything extra to be. In theory, I should be able to go out into the wilderness and “live off the land.” But I know that I can’t do that. Can you? In my mind I think, “sure, I go camping.” However, think about camping; we make a fire for warmth and to cook, and we pitch a tent. What other creature does this? None. Ok, so natural shelters exist. Now we’re cavemen. Even they had fire, but to control fire is man-made. My theory is that we shouldn’t need it. We should be able to live, just as we’re born. Our women have a natural means to feed an infant, and then after they grow, water should be accessible from natural sources. Food then, would be berries, seeds, plants. Hunting requires man-made tools. Fishing as well. They are great resources, but we shouldn’t need them. Can we really live a healthy life that way? Is that how we’re “meant” to be? Would we be happier to live that way, with no need for an escape?

The first time I heard the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss,” was in elementary school. I actually read it from a little wooden decoration that was on my teacher’s desk. I didn’t get it. I knew that “bliss” was a good thing, and I knew “Ignorance” was bad. I used to think it meant, “being bad is good.” I just couldn’t grasp the concept. When I finally understood it to mean “being unaware is joyful,” I couldn’t agree more. I again look to nature. Wolves, cats, ants; all living things besides us don’t question their own existence. At least, we don’t think they do. Maybe Koko the gorilla (RIP), but generally speaking… Being aware of our existence is absolute torture. At least for me. I can’t really do anything at all if I don’t have a reason for it. I eat because I need to eat to live. I sleep because I must. I have sex because it’s awesome, but I know that it’s biologically because my body wants to procreate. That all makes sense to me.

Beyond these biological necessities, I feel like everything we do is meaningless. Every job I’ve ever worked puts me in a pit of depression after a short time being there. I start off ok, because it’s new and learning the job distracts me from the job itself. Then, after settling in, I feel like a hamster stuck in a loop. I get up, drink coffee, sit in traffic, go to work, come home, eat, TV, sleep, repeat for 5 days, then try to jam pack the weekend with escapes from the week, repeat. At some point, I feel like I can’t keep this up any longer, and then I look for a different job, or quit. Then, I live off my savings for as long as possible before I notice that my bank account is starving. Then it’s a race against the clock to find work, get some income, fall back into the cycle.

I know I’m not alone here. Social media is extremely sad when you read between the lines. I see “funny” videos or memes about hating work. It will usually have a cartoon picture to lighten the mood, but what I see is a bunch of people crying for help. They’re all saying, “Help! I’m stuck in this loop and I don’t know what to do about it. I am doing what I’m told that I have to do, but I still feel like something is missing!” Every ‘lol’ reads as nervous laughter.

What is the solution? I’m not sure. I’m toying with the idea that perhaps service to others is the only meaningful path to life. I don’t mean charity per say, but jobs in fields that help others exist? Like a doctor (that doesn’t just do it for the money). Or a cook? We all need food, water, shelter, sleep. Maybe the most important jobs we have are, Doctors; Plumbers; Carpenters; and…pot dealers? I don’t know, but I can tell you right now that being an accountant, or a cashier, etc. is the biggest waste of a beautiful human life and I can’t understand why we allow it.

I don’t want to die, but I want to escape this life.

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