Lately I’ve been trying, with much laziness and distraction, to conquer depression—to not only conquer it, but to brutally torture and murder it with repeated and frightening strikes of joy and laughter.
One exercise I gathered from reading The 80/20 Principle was to think of the things that made me happy, and to spend more time and effort on those things.
Using a pen and paper, I wrote down a list of things that made me happy. But there were two particular things I had to cross out:
Getting drunk with women
I showed these two to Christie.
“Getting drunk with women?” She said, annoyed.
And then I spent the next half hour explaining to her that I was just joking.
But secretly, afterwards, when I was all alone, in my car, I began thinking: “What is it about getting drunk with women that makes me happier than getting drunk with men? Or being sober with women? Or even meditating? I mean, meditation is great, but there’s something profoundly anti-social about it…”
But I also know that nothing good, in the long run, can ever come from relying on getting drunk for happiness. In fact at some point I’d vowed to never drink for the rest of my life, and I’d tell people, as humbly as I could, “I’m sort of, like—I mean this isn’t a sure thing, and I’m taking it one a day at a time—thinking of, like, never drinking again. (Insert awkward pause). For the rest of my life.” And they’d give me this look that I couldn’t really define: a blank stare, a polite smile, lies, lies, lies. And I’d think of Jesus who turned water into wine but was never mentioned to drink wine Himself.
There was this one time I drank with a woman, and we had a whole bottle of absinthe, and this woman—she was nineteen, or twenty, and I was nineteen, or twenty—and I’d adored her for years but could never quite say it, and I’d wanted to see her, spend time with her, constantly, for years but could never quite say it, and this night, this night was a night she finally said yes, and this night was My Chance, My Chance to come undone in front of her, to expose a few of my secret sentences, to let her know this: “You are the reason why I cannot sleep. You are the reason why I get the butterflies. You are the reason why I listen to sad music along highways, why I write cryptic things on strangers’ notepads, why I smile in the dark.” And after we drank she invited me over, to sleep at hers, but I had a girlfriend, and she said, “Are you sure? Are you sure?” And I watched her catch a cab and I caught a cab to a friend’s place and he laughed at me and I passed out on his sofa, and I vomited the next morning, and what the hell part of that story made me happy? Was there any happiness at all in it? What good had it given? What good had it produced for our world, for history? I was probably better off meditating, praying, studying, writing, working at a soup kitchen, having sober conversations and double dates and having a gratitude journal and sleeping at ten in the evening and telling people that I was happy.