There is a blog called Raptitude. Its tagline is ‘Getting better at being human”. In a post called Your lifestyle has already been designed, David Cain rips into the 8-hour work day and its impact on the mind. After reading the piece, one particular sentence has stuck in my mind:
“We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have.”
As life has gotten busier in the way it does after adolescence, my life has simultaneously felt emptier. Two, three years ago, it was easy to answer the question “What have you been up to?” Lately, I haven’t known what to say – for what have I been up to besides the daily grind of commuting, sitting in front of a computer, eating meals and scrolling feeds?
‘Vaguely dissatisfied’ is the perfect term to summarise my feelings of March. Since I have been vaguely tired due to the repetition of my days, I am vaguely entertained by a new Netflix show (Arrested Development) and vaguely engaged with my social life. I have been vaguely inspired by the things that I read, and vaguely remembering everything amongst the haze of the everyday.
This is Cain’s ‘Designed Lifestyle’ – this is what I am constantly terrified of as I am living it. What is it about life that makes us more interested in being distracted than being happy? I know what makes me happy – finding new music, creating videos, writing, reading, drawing, dancing, dressing, baking, swimming, taking photos. But after an 8-hour work day, I want nothing more than to watch Vaguely Entertaining even though I know it won’t make me happy. What is that? And how I can be better?
This and many others were my thoughts in March.
I learned a new term this month. Derealisation: the intrusive suspicion that the world around you isn’t real. The unshakable feeling in your heart that the thing happening in front of you is too raw, too echoey, too bright to be real. That tiny voice in your head that whispers “But how do you know they are alive as you?”
Rather than say I am always plagued by derealisation, it’s better to say that I understand the feeling very intimately. I think it is the basis to my wanting to document everything as if doing so might provide the proof I am seeking. After all, how can you really prove that something happened except through photography and video and words? That’s all we have.
As I continue my 1 Second of the Day mission for the year, I am more conscious of my daily reconstruction of reality to make meaning and prove happenings. I know that this video doesn’t really summarise my month as neatly as I imagine, but it’s in this imaging where reality actually feels like it exists. I don’t think I’m the first or only person to feel this way, but I’m also not entirely sure if I’m comfortable with this feeling either.
I’ve been feeling very appreciative of the friendships I have in my life. I used dream of having that one friendship group that fulfilled every social need in perfect equalibrium – but I think I have finally accepted that this sort of fantasy doesn’t exist. No friendship is perfect, and no group of people can equally love each other the way ensenble casts will trick you into believing.
Now I think that perhaps different friendships exist for different reasons – and I have found enough people to fill the roles I need. Creative friends, drinking friends, pajama friends, heart friends, work friends, family friends, one-on-one friends, every-now-and-then friends, soon-to-be friends, temporary friends – there is value in every ‘type’ of friendship I have in my life and I have been feeling the wonder of all of them.
On my Garden Party playlist
Late last year, I set about creating a playlist filled with the kind of head-bopping, toe-tapping songs that make you feel like you’re living a cool life. The tunes which don’t distract from the conversations in the room, yet are still noticeable enough to make you feel like you exist in the aesthetic landscape the soundtrack demands. I called it ‘Garden Party’ – because there’s nothing like a good garden party to make you feel like maybe your life is going okay.
Whenever anyone compliments me on this playlist, it’s like they have complimented my soul. This month, I got three soul compliments and it felt really great. As good as that felt is as good as this playlist makes me feel. I hope you can feel the same.
Hwasa’s Be Calm sounds like what floating on your back in the ocean feels like. (The music video is also perfect – what a queen).
Despite being released in 2015, Sleeping at Last’s Countdown reminds me of being sixteen and in pain.
The riff in Taj Ralph’s Beat the Keeper has inspired me to create an entire playlist of great guitar riffs – coming soon.
In line with guitar riffs, I have rediscovered Balu Brigada’s Could You Not and goddamn it’s divine.