April 11, 2011. I’ve biked two towns over on a stolen sense of adventure. The wind shoves my hair into my eyes as I pretend I’m riding a galloping horse. Homes get further and further apart. My phone is in my dorm room, currently being blown up, but I feel six hours away.
My legs have been begging me to stop moving since 20 minutes into this ride, but I urge them on. “It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come.” Puffing the words out with each breath, I chase the feeling of excitement that only comes when you’re naive enough to think you can outrun your demons as easily as the cows in the fields you pass.
The fields abruptly changed into sidewalks and signs. Hopping off and pulling my bike alongside me, I wander the streets of a small Midwestern town I still don’t remember the name of and pop into a tiny dive bar. Almost entirely empty at 3:45 on a Saturday afternoon, I order cheese fries and a shot of whiskey. Pull a tattered novel out my bag and settle in to read. At 5:30, I wave to the bartender, grab my bike, and head out again. Ride off and chase the sunset home.
I will never return.
In my ideal life, I’d never work a 9–5 job or side hustle. Contrary to those who enthuse that if I just find the job that fits me and surround myself with colleagues I enjoy, work would be great. That I’d be bored if I had all the money I need and no job to go to. That I’ll be unfulfilled if I opt out of the whole predatory system.
All due respect, that’s some of the saddest stuff I’ve ever heard. If I could use my time to cook, garden, hug, read, fuck, sketch, discuss, and discover, I’d be many things, but unfulfilled would not be one of them.
Tell yourself enough lies, and you’ll start to believe them. Tell yourself one lie over and over, and you’ll build a life on it. We’ve built our lives on fear-fear of the “other”, fear of failure, fear of rejection (which is really the fear of being “othered”), fearing a loss of self.
Lusting after wealth in one breath and saying money can’t buy happiness in the other. Minimizing risk by telling ourselves the world will fall apart if we do. Silencing that inner critic by bribing him with one-night stands, alcohol, drugs. Wondering why our anxiety keeps ratcheting up when…