Thursday, September 21, 2017

I'm fine, really. I just think too much sometimes

I wound myself up into a bizarre thought experiment on the way home from work yesterday and I have not found a way out of it yet. It is not original, by any means, but it is caught up on the front burner of my brain like an ear worm or disturbing image. This ties into something that Chance and I talked about off-air yesterday: the 'American Dream'.

By anyone's measure I have a good life. I live in a safe town in a safe state (no hurricanes or earthquakes, just cold winters) in the most powerful, if dubiously governed, country. I have a cushy job that allows me to come and go almost as I please. I am even the right gender and the right color (please note this is not me expressing racism or sexism, only the fact that white men have an easier time of things than most) . I am financially stable due mostly to good fortune and the posthumous generosity of others. It feels like I have done little to deserve this, having passed on many opportunities in life to do more because more is difficult. I have always chosen the path of least resistance and have never been punished for it.

This is where the weird thought experiment kicks in.

What if all of this were indeed too good to be true? There are two possibilities: first, the entire universe of my perception may be created just for me, a private matrix that continually bends the odds in my favor. Everything comes up Chamberlain because everything exists for Chamberlain. There is no way for me to prove or disprove this as it is impossible for me to view anything from outside of my perspective. I cannot see with another man's eyes so this false universe becomes the truth.

As I said, this is not an original thought, but it is one way to explain my inordinate good luck. The second is that I am mad, that reality is real but my perception is not, that it is warped by mental disease or defect. Again, there is no way to prove or disprove this. To the mad man the sane seem crazy.

These are not pleasant thoughts. I credit them to the dreadful melancholy that accompanies the midpoint of an unremarkable life. 


  1. The good news is you can't be medically crazy while still realizing it. That's why keeping folks on medication is so hard. They never fully grasped why they needed it in the first place, half the time.

    He said, regurgitating what his drunk psychologist friends said with no expertise of his own.

  2. When I was a young and strangely successful writer, an even-younger aspiring writer came to me and asked what advice I could give him to achieve the same good fortune. All I could tell him was to keep writing, and eventually people will notice - because that's as much as I understood about what has happened to me.

    I remember him looking at me like I was a complete asshole, and then telling everyone else in our circle that I was a jerk.

    I honestly think it was better advice than the truth: just get lucky.