The Zen of A Flat Tire
Thump, thump, thump.
“Fuuuuck.” I declare as I slowly pull off on to the side of the freeway.
When you get a flat tire, you go through the five classic stages of grief.
Step 1: Denial
I don’t have a flat tire. I am just going to keep driving.
You drive an extra mile even though you start to feel the car start to drift a bit.
Now your thinking shifts to well I am definitely going to make it home. This lasts until you hear the aforementioned thumping.
Step 2: Anger
What in the actual fuck? Probably those derelicts down at the lot where I parked. Popping tires. Doing drugs. Not going to school because they have to make money to support their family. Resorting to street crime to ascend the corporate hierarchy of their gang so that they can fulfill Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Classic derelicts.
This stage continues until you start to reflect on what kind of person you have been recently.
Step 3: Bargaining
If only I didn’t make that one racist joke. God is for sure smiting me right now because of that one. Come on. It was funny. Let it go.
Karma is a bitch, huh? They should make a restaurant called Shawarma Karma where they serve you the quality of shawarma in direct proportion to what quality of person you have been recently. Mother Teresa gets the good shit and Joseph Kony gets a literal pile of shit. This is a great idea for a restaurant provided I am pronouncing shawarma correctly. Someone get me on Shark Tank ASAP.
Well I guess this flat tire thing happens. This really makes me sad.
Step 4: Depression
Man, they are going to bend me over at the tire store for this one. Is that what it is even called? The tire store? I don’t know. Whatever the store with the big sweaty racially ambiguous guy who is about to tell me that this is going to be WAY more expensive than I could even imagine. I can hear him now:
“Oh well the flux capacitor is shot, and I can’t find the Higgs boson anywhere, so this will probably run you about $1,000 dollars.”
Seems reasonable…what else am I going to say to the guy? I know less about cars than I know about women, so I have no chance at fixing this without him.
So proceed. Just use lube. Oh, my insurance doesn’t cover lube? How much is lube going to cost? Jesus Christ. Ok. Fine. No lube. Maybe my medical insurance will cover chaffing and the wheelchair I will need after the mechanic is done with me.
Step 5: Acceptance
Well. I am safe. And I saved 15% or more on my car insurance by switching to Geico. I can now use those savings to buy new tires. Speaking of which, I should call them for roadside assistance.
“Yea sure, we can get you some assistance. They said they can be there in an hour.”
Great, an hour on the side of the freeway. Guess I should use this time to think about life and shit. So I start to get hella deep and think about it.
Getting Hella Deep
The side of the freeway is an interesting perspective. You really get an idea for how absurdly fast 80 miles per hour (for European readers, that’s about 10 stones per gigaohm. Great use of the metric system, me.) really is. You are slightly terrified as people just living their lives come whizzing past you. Driving 90 in a 65 like Akon. They may or may not be as paid as Akon is. Who knows? They are just moving forward with only one thing in mind: A destination. Get from Point A to Point B.
The only interaction you have with them is via the wind they produce that blasts in to the side of your car causing an unsettling shifting as you sit. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Newton strikes again. Unintended consequences of living your life, I presume. Reminds me of the butterfly effect. Butterfly flaps his/her wings in New Zealand and it inadvertently causes Iggy Azalea to release another shitty song. Or in this case, car barrels down freeway and causes gust of wind to hit 24-year-old right in the face with an existential crisis.
Are you ready for this?
The freeway is a metaphor for life. I will give you a minute to reassemble the pieces of your mind that have just been blown in a non-sexual way. Now excuse me while I belabor this metaphor.
Life is a Highway
No one seems to notice me on the side of the road. They are too consumed with getting to Point B. Probably because life got in the way so they left Point A late. Now they are rushing to catch back up with their life schedule.
Follow the schedule and order is maintained. Miss the deadlines and we are thrown in to a chronic frenzy trying to fix it. I sleep through my alarm. To make up time I skip showering. I run in to an attractive female at Starbucks. She is not impressed with my manly musk. She would have been in to me if I had my Abercrombie Fierce on. Missed connection. Whatever. As long as I get to Point B on time, order will be restored.
A destination. That is what always seems to be on my mind, just like the people I witness driving on the freeway. I am leaving here and going here. My life is lived from Point A to Point B. I never really care about how I got there as long as I get to Point B. And once I get to Point B, life will be good. This grass is greener mentality allows me to endure the day-to-day pains that comes with some of my professional pursuits. My inner voice chimes in when things get rough with a distinct Italian accent:
“It hurts? That’s OK, pain is just weakness leaving the body. Man up. Throw some dirt on it. Grin and bare it. Be a man. Sound bite. Sound bite. Sound bite.”
I wonder, why am I so worried about the beginning and the end but have no real polarizing opinion on the journey there? And why is my inner voice Italian? I am not Italian. At least I don’t think I am. I am sure some psychologist could explain my inner voice. Freud would probably attribute it to some deep down inner drive I have to fornicate with a family member of mine. God. Freud was a shit show. Imagine Freud at a party explaining to everyone that their drive to consume alcohol at this party has something to do with never completing some stage of their psychosexual development. Talking about anal fixation at parties always goes over well.
I have been constantly moving from one highway to the next. Exit the middle school highway and get right on to the high school on ramp. High school to college. College to job. And then after I finish with this job, I will move on to the next job. Job to job. Job to job. Never really stopping to think about the how or the journey I was on to get to the next point. I always have a destination. And when I reach it, I redefine the destination.
The ironic part about this mindset is that I never get to Point B. Point B is a moving target. I just keep moving, one foot in front of the other, to the next destination and when I get there, I redefine my destination. My life becomes a cycle of never ending conditional happiness.
Continuing to Drag Out An Overused Metaphor
I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. And it made me think about my path. This mental flat tire forced me to pull over recently. This came with the same five stages of grief as I had with my actual flat tire.
Stage 1: Denial
There is no problem. I am just going to keep going. Humming along. I am only like five promotions shy of CEO. That will show the world. I will have arrived. I will stand at the top of the mountain and shout look at me now.
You keep thinking this until you go in to work one day and realize that everyone you work with is a revolving door of sound bites and buzzwords.
“Lets take this offline”
“We need an engaged work force”
“Don’t reinvent the wheel”
Jesus. I feel like every day is staged. When was it decided that we were going to use 10 prepared statements to respond to every interaction? Did I miss the office memo? And why can’t I redesign the wheel? I’ll do what I want. It’s my life. (Jovi, 2000).
Stage 2: Anger
This whole system is a lie. A goddamn lie. Down with the system. We want more. We want a revolution. The one percent has put all of us in to a cycle of indentured servitude. We are forced to work miserably long hours with no tangible benefit to anyone aside from shareholders. Society is a hoax. The government is controlled by the wealthy elite. We deserve better.
LET’S OCCUPY SOMETHING
Woah. Sorry about that. The Berkeley in me came out there for a second.
I am not a liberal. Nor am I a conservative really. Mainly because I don’t honestly know what those two terms mean any more. In my opinion, they are overused and underdefined. What does being a conservative mean? What does being a liberal mean? Does it matter? The party who spends the most money wins the VAST majority of elections regardless of my vote. I vote for who I think will bring the most progressive change. Then that person gets elected. Then I find out that he/she lied.
There are no changes regardless of who is in charge. The Simpsons is not the longest running comedy show on television. That dubious distinction belongs to politics. And for god sake, who keeps renewing the news? That show is terrible. It is just a cesspool of human atrocities and celebrity knob slobbing.
I don’t want to hear about how I should be terrified of going outside. I am already terrified of going outside. I have watched enough episodes of Law and Order, Criminal Minds, and Rizzoli and Isles to have it engrained in my brain that people just murder each other all the time. By my calculations, there are at least three murders and five commercial breaks in a town within five square miles of me every hour. I don’t need the news to further legitimize my fears with real world case studies of manslaughter and human rights violations.
And if I have to hear about how Kim Kardashian “broke the Internet” one more time, I am going to write a strongly worded letter to Al Gore (inventor of the Internet). What on Earth does that even mean? I honestly doubt she possesses the intellectual capacity to access the Internet, let alone completely stop the movement of computerized information from one place to another. With that said, I am absolutely going to start using Kim Kardashian as the reason why I don’t respond to emails.
“Oh sorry, I was going to respond but Kim Kardashian took another photo of her ass so the Internet is just unusable. Classic science, right? Thanks Obama.”
The way things are run and reported really boils my blood. I am a good person. I don’t deserve this…right?
Stage 3: Bargaining
Come on. It was ONE racist joke. Can’t we just let it go?
It was more like two. Jesus. If this is my life, I wonder how Carlos Mencia is holding up. That guy made a living off of racist jokes. Then we found out he stole those jokes. Then we found out he wasn’t Mexican. That was awkward. Bye Carlos. I just Googled Carlos Mencia and found out that he is going to be in San Jose on March 5-8th. Is it weird that I want to go?
God. I just wrote a well-researched paragraph about Carlos Mencia. That’s depressing.
Stage 4: Depression
Man. Life is kind of shitty. When do I get my tax return? That will make my life better. I will probably find out that it is being delayed so they can use it to train a group to take down ISIS? At least that’s a Patriotic use of my funds.
Oh it is now being used to take down the group that they trained to take down ISIS? This appears to be a self-perpetuating cycle of defense spending. Like a Dick Cheney wet dream.
Can’t the Illuminati do something about this? I wonder what a day in the life looks like for a member of the Illuminati. Wake up. Put your pants on one leg at a time. Work on destroying the political infrastructure of country A by crippling company B via questionable means C for some Machiavellian reason D. Do members of the Illuminati get fed up with the corporate structure of the illuminati? There has to be office drama and performance reviews.
“Carl, you really need to get your metrics up. You can’t have another fiscal quarter with subpar revolutions per hour. That’s not the way we do business here at Illuminati, LLC”
Maybe there is an Illuminati trying to take down the Illuminati. Illuminati inside the illuminati. Illuminati-ception.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Eh. Life isn’t that bad. To be honest, there is a good chance that I am just being a huge bitch about this whole thing. Whenever I get down on life, I think back to a piece of advice that was given to me by a TSA agent. No. It did not involve a cavity search, but it did involve a quote that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
The year was 2012. Here I was, waiting in line to go through the thing where you put your hands up like you are listening to a DJ Khaled song. You know, the one where it bombards you with carcinogenic radiation and tells the guy whether or not you are a terrorist. Luckily, this comically attractive woman is in front of me. Her mere presence is making me feel better about having my personal bubble electromagnetically penetrated.
I am enjoying the sights when suddenly, the TSA agent and I lock eyes. We collectively look over at her, nod and smile. Unspoken objectification of women. Good for us. As I approach him, it becomes evident that we are about to share more than a silent nod. He has that “I’m about to drop some knowledge” face on as he leans in close and says “How you gonna tell me God don’t love ya, when a nigga make an ass like that?”
I was waved forward before he was given the chance to elaborate, but his message was clear: Sometimes you need to just take a moment to appreciate all the beauty in this world. Life is awesome. You just have to open your eyes and admire the beauty around you and that you are here to experience it. Or some shit.
It has become clear to me that this mental flat tire has actually served me well. It has allowed me to take a step back and analyze the way things are going and view life from a different perspective. It is time for me to fix the flat, but rather than wait for Geico to come help, I have decided to get out and change it my self. Carpe tire (which in Latin roughly translates to “seize the tire”). I need to do work that means more to me. I need to set my sights on a new destination: Passion.
Man. That was probably the least heterosexual thing I have ever written. Not like there is anything wrong with that. I am just making a note for my records.
I have never really considered what I would like to do. Enjoyment has always been done on the weekend not the weekdays. I just try to maintain a good work-rage balance. But according to TED talks, it is possible to love the weekdays too as long as you find and follow your passion. Interesting.
Hot, Sweaty, Sticky Passion
Lets talk about passion. Pure, unadulterated passion. From concentrate. No pulp. TED says that you have to find what you are passionate about and you have to do work you care about. I just have to figure out what this abstract concept of passion is.
But low and behold, this is harder than it sounds. You see, I have been looking in to my passions recently and I don’t like what I have come up with. Not like I have some messed up passion. This post isn’t going to be about my passion for beastiality (That’s a different blog post). My real issue is I don’t like that I do not know what my passion is. I don’t know what I am passionate about. Balls.
What excites you? What drives you? What can you not stop doing? I know all the questions to ask, but I don’t know the answer.
This discovery launches me in to a further spiral of questioning: What do I do? Am I broken? Is something wrong with me? How have I never noticed this before? Why is this giving me anxiety? If I don’t know what my passion is now, will I ever know? Should I do some more exercises on discovering my passion? But what if I run through the exercises and find out I am passionate about nothing? I am so hilariously indifferent that I have no passion. Would that mean that I have a passion for indifference? I guess at least there’s that?
Or maybe I just don’t understand how passion works. Maybe it is that there is no single true answer to “what is your passion?” Maybe what you are passionate about cannot be boxed up in to a single bite-sized topic. Maybe it is all over the map. Maybe it’s Maybelline. Maybe passion comes in different shapes and sizes…that sounds like a slogan for dildos.
Bet You Thought I Was Done With The Metaphor
Life is a highway and we are the cars and I wish my car came equipped with Google Maps. I would have turn-by-turn directions to my passion and when I get there it will inform me “You have arrived at your passion.” Then I could just live happily ever after. It would take all the guesswork out of it.
Unfortunately, in the brief time that I have spent looking in to passion, it appears that my car has come equipped with Bing Maps. I am not going to get turn-by-turn directions to my passion. Bing has a vague idea of where to take me and I have to be mindful of whether or not the journey is working for me or if I am about to turn in to oncoming traffic. Who knows where I will end up? But I have begun to realize that’s OK. I just have to keep looking. Keep moving toward the things that bring enjoyment to my life and away from the things that cause pain. I need to stop worrying about getting to Point B, and focus more on the act of driving itself. I have to just embrace the uncertainty and go. Just trust it. Let go. Enjoy the ride. In Bing we trust.
Rapping it Up (Do you see what I did there?)
Honestly, here is the deal. This mental flat tire of mine has made me reevaluate my way of looking at the world. It made me start blogging and talking about my feelings. This has all been new to me, and I have to admit, it has been extremely liberating.
It is tough at first to open up and say things to people like “Don’t you think there is more out there?” or “Is this really it?” You have this distinct “my life has been lived a million times” feeling and this thought process that everyone is going to talk about you behind your back. You think you are going to be labeled as weak-minded. But if there is one thing I have learned about people through this whole process it is that the exact opposite is true. The response I received after my first post was overwhelming. It helped me realize that when you are authentic, there are a lot of people who are willing to stop their journey, pull over and help you fix your flat.
This response has really helped me with my next steps. I have made a commitment to looking in to work that will actually bring me enjoyment in life. I am actively seeking out ventures that excite me in a non-sexual way. I have realized that this destination mindset of mine is not healthy. It is clear that I need to stop focusing so much on where I am going and focus much more on living in the now.
I have come to understand that I am not going to be able to find passion by following some Buzzfeed article’s 69 simple steps for passion discovery. I have realized that it takes a lifelong commitment to self-discovery. I am going to have to spend some time experimenting with different realms of interest and keep following what feels right. Wealth accumulation cannot be the paramount concern of mine. I just have to respect the process. Living a rich life involves much more than becoming rich.
The whole process has been and is going to be very touch and go. But in this brief time of looking, I have determined that there is absolutely more to life, and I am going to find it. I just need to do a little more looking and a little more living. A wise fast food restaurant once said “Live Mas.” I plan on taking the advice because yo quiero mas.