"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Quarterlife Ennui

I have an attitude problem. Existential ennui has me in the grips. My health has improved almost to the point of full recovery, but the general droopiness of spirit doggedly remains.

I was trying to write it out in my paper journal the other day. My angst seems to be very much rooted in what people call the quarter life crisis. It also has to do with my pessimistic assessment of the institutional foundations for contemporary life. To put it simply, I don't see any ladders worth climbing out there.

The obvious alternative is to engage my creative and enterprising nature and begin the development of some new venture, life-project or institution around which my future can revolve. The trouble with this is I'm very much aware of my limited capacity to fulfill responsibilities, and I worry that I lack the clarity and commitment to actual break ground on something that big.

In thinking these directional questions over, a perennial favorite is to go back to school. A masters degree wouldn't hurt my future life chances, and it would be pleasant to have structure and mentorship again. If I decide to get any more serious about this after The Road, one of the first orders of business will be to begin researching programs and opportunities which might address at least a plurality of my interests.

I'm also bedeviled by the knowledge that if I wanted to I could find gainful, even prosperous, employment with the kind of ease that amounts to a supreme privilege in this modern world. I worry about descending into some kind of pomo quasi-yuppie hell, shopping at banana republic, getting caught up in the kind of consumer lifestyle that seems so popular these days. I want to work and make money and have health insurance, but I also want to retain my self-respect. On the other hand, as a prosperously employed friend of mine noted today, "self respect is a luxury." What with the debts pressing down and my recent experiences outside the health-care umbrella, maybe it's time to consider sucking it up for a change. I'm just not sure.

On top of the life-direction worries, I also have a lack of harmony in my personal life. I think about enormous and abstract things too much (e.g. the impending thermodynamic doom of the American Empire) and have far too little room in my life for the kinds of human-level interactions that, when you get right down to it, make life worth living. I find conversation difficult, and idea of Love impossible.

There's the great hope that going on the road this summer will shake things loose, provide a frame-breaking experience to help resolve these nagging questions and open up my personality. I'm skeptical. I worry that it will be boring, that there's nothing out there, that nothing will happen.

As I said, I have an attitude problem. Being in motion helps, but I wonder if (like being "busy") that's just another tactic of avoidance. I wonder if my pessimistic outlook on our modern world is really a reflection on my own self-image, that I have unresolved feelings of failure after going 0 for 3 in politics (stopping the war, Dean, stopping Bush) and cutting myself loose from MFA. I wonder what it will take to turn this around, to get me juicing, high on myself again. I don't really know. I can only hope that time and experience will bring a resolution to all this uncertainty. On the plus side, they usually do.