Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Most Miserable Person on Earth

Today I've discovered that I'm the most miserable person on earth. At least, it's been brought to my attention that's what many people think of me. It's funny, because I don't feel that way. I think most of my life I haven't been great at emoting what I feel deep down, so I guess it should come as no surprise that I've been misinterpreted again. Today a friend of mine called and asked how everything was going. By the time I was done telling him, he said that I sounded depressed. My wife has been saying that as well. Yet, I don't feel depressed. Sure, there is nothing dynamic going on at the moment, but that does not mean I'm depressed. It just means life is moving on. I think I've only had one friend my entire life who really got me, understood what was really going on deep beneath the surface. Unfortunately, it seems, we've drifted apart. But the thing that was understood was that sometimes the things I take joy in are simple, and don't express well in conversation. And sometimes the most conversational topics are the least interesting.

For example, my wife thinks I hate where I've moved. Frankly, I think I could live most anywhere. Day to day life is the same most places I feel I could wind up. Get up, go to work, eat, do laundry, watch TV, go to sleep, get up the next morning, and do it all over again. When I said that's mostly what I've been doing, I got the usual sympathetic reaction. As if most people don't do these things? But the differences come in the details.

The weather: I said I was looking forward to spring and that I was cold. I never said I was depressed. I never said I hated the winter. But I do get cold and, like MOST of the people here, I'm ready for it to warm up. And once it gets sweltering in mid-summer, I will then be hoping for it to cool down, like most people. I enjoy the beauty of a snowfall, the colors of the fall, the warm sun on my face, the blooming of the flowers. I appreciate them all, and yet I don't think wanting to be a nice, cozy 72 degrees with a slight breeze for the majority of the time makes me unusual, or makes me depressed when I don't have it.

Work: First of all, I haven't even mentioned in my blogs to date that I even got work. I did. In fact, it was the first interview I went on when I arrived that offered me a position. And as expected, the job is not in my previous field. I told my friend the best thing about the job was the commute, and other than that it is just a job. Again, that's true. I wish I were fortunate enough to have a job that I love. Many people have that, and many others don't. My job is a) not very exciting, b) not using my abilities to their past, present, or future potential, c) paying the bills, and mostly just the bills. I would love to love my job. Since most of my waking hours are spent there, that would be incredible, no doubt. But if I'm not going to love my job, there is something else I want from it. I want to stop living to work, and begin working to live. That is one of the benefits of the job I found. I found a job close to work. I thought with all of the public transportation out here, that commuting would be easier than L.A., but I've found traffic out here to be just as much of a nightmare. In fact, I work with a guy who commutes 7 hours round trip every day. No, I'm not making that up. He must love HIS job! But my commute is relatively short. I work for a boss who recognized potential talent on a resume even with no background in his industry. I work for a company who treats their employees as adults, and has an admirable sick/holiday/vacation policy unlike any I've ever seen. So, I will continue to look for work that I will love, and that may or not pay me more to love it, but I will see this as an opportunity to have a life outside of work, and that's not too depressing, is it? (Now, I will admit that I haven't quite figured out what I want of this life outside of work, and that can indeed be a drag, but that's not necessarily depressing, and it's definitely its own blog for another time.)

Activities: I said daily I mostly just go to work, come home, sleep. I don't call people too often, have barely called anyone in fact since I've moved. Guess I haven't felt there is much to talk about. Those are just daily routine activities. Same as in L.A. or anywhere else. But don't get me wrong. We do get out. Heck, since I've lived here, I've gone to Baltimore twice, Philadelphia once, visited Calvert County in the far south of Maryland, been to Virginia, driven by the Pentagon, walked through the National Air & Space museum, been to the National Zoo, walked to the Jefferson Monument on the Tidal Basin to see the cherryblossoms in bloom(they haven't bloomed yet, but waiting until next weekend to try again - see, they don't like the cold & rain either!), saw the National Cherryblossom kite festival in front of the Washington Monument, visited Ford's Theater (where Lincoln was shot) and the Peterson House (where Lincoln died), went to the International Spy Museum, visited a Super Pet Expo in Dulles, and of course made more trips with less success to the Home Depot than anyone else I know. I've also had my car into the shop 3 times in the just less than 2 months I've lived here.

But as exciting as these activities are, they never seem like good conversation topics. I don't tend to remember all of the history or information most people want to hear about when they talk about such places or events. I usually remember that a butterfly flew past when we were walking up that hill, that a breeze almost pushed me into oncoming traffic as we waited for a signal to change, that a lady read a paper on the metro and from the headline I knew it was 2 months old. I feel and think and often live in my head. I cherish my thoughts and feelings as deep, but private. Sometimes their significance or emotion feels muted once I've let them outside of that personal space. I think that's why I often prefer writing to talking. When I write I don't feel like I've always let the cat out of the bag, even if I have just as much if not more so.

So, no, I don't think I'm depressed. Could I be happier? Heck, there's always room to be happier. But really the most depressing thing of all is to be so darn misunderstood. And if being misunderstood can make you miserable, than perhaps everyone is right about me. I'm the most miserable person on earth.


At 3:37 PM, Blogger Adam R. said...

Wow! That was an incredibly insightful, wonderful entry. I can really relate to a lot of what you've written.

Congratulations on the job! I know that it's not your dream job, but congratulations anyway.

Are you still thinking about getting onto LiveJournal, by the way?

At 6:56 PM, Blogger travis said...

I think it's not unreasonable for someone to think you're unhappy.

I can't help but notice you've just written a long post about your life without ever applying any of the words "like, love, fun, happy, job, exciting, good, glad, nice, better, joy, satisfied, pleased, pleasure, wonderful," or any other positive adjective to anything relating to your currently situation.

You described many amazing places that you'd seen, without in any way indicating that you liked them -- I guess you did say they were exciting, kinda.

I remember we had a conversation once about the difficulty in saying three sentences in a row that were unambiguously positive. Care to try that with your blog, and let others weigh in?

At 7:08 PM, Blogger travis said...

After a moments thought, a clarificiation. I'm not saying your life isn't exciting, or that you SHOULD be depressed. Just the opposite, you have some really good things going for you and around you.

So, if you are enjoying your life (or parts of it), by not expressing this, you create an erroneous impression in others. Don't you think those around you -- spouse, friends, family -- should be exposed a bit to your internal happiness so they can share it with you?

At 7:48 PM, Blogger hermitdeb said...

Adam- Thanks... And yes, I hope to eventually get on livejournal, but I'm finding less and less time to dedicate to learning how to use it... and I'd much rather get out and see the sights than be bogged down by the computer!

Travis- Wow, that was an eyeful! Perhaps I'm not so quick to let others weigh in when they feel like they have to hold me to their own standards. Just because some people express things one way does not mean there aren't other ways to be expressive, or other ways to be, in general. Perhaps you missed the previous "Tomorrow is Wednesday" post. I might not have used the phrase exactly as you would have "I am so excited and overwhelmingly happy that tomorrow is Wednesday because I'm excited and thrilled that the weather is finally going above average and that makes me happy." Nevertheless, I think people would get the idea... but I could be wrong. Needless to say, if people don't get that that is how I express things like that, then I've only futher proven the point that I am misunderstood. If you want me to use my blog to express things the same way you do, I'm sorry to say you'll continue to be disappointed.

And once, just to prove I can, but by no means under any obligaton, 3 things... then I return to doing things my way:

1) I just came home to a beautiful sunset, a cherryblossom tree blooming in my backyard, and a birds' nest with both mama and papa bird feeding their younsters right outside our bedroom window. The scenery and wildlife out here are amazing, and that makes me happy.

2) After 2 weeks of waiting, our free Sunrocket phone finally arrived in the mail, and I'm really excited about that.

3) Yesterday I fixed the fog lamp on my car all by myself... in the dark! I'm really proud of how handy I was in that moment.

At 7:02 PM, Blogger travis said...

You were the one who told me an excellent, and long-enduring piece of wisdom:

We judge ourselves on our intentions, and others on their actions.

I'm sorry I misinterpret you, even after all these years. I'll try to do better in the future. Practice makes perfect, right?

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