The Sting of Pain 

Just this afternoon, I got a call from a sad friend who is having a bad time lately. And I offered as much hope and support as I could for anyone in a difficult circumstance. I think I did a pretty good job, but perhaps that is because my struggles with depression has given me some hard won experience about how to comfort a sad person. I tried to say all of kinds of things I wished someone would say to me when I am feeling down.

But at the end of the conversation, when my friend was feeling slightly better, I began to experience a kind of malaise or emotional slump. I had all of this work that I wanted to do, but instead, I was side-tracked into thinking what was wrong about me. Why, for example, I am nearly a forty-year-old man with no decent prospects of a comfortable job, nice house, family, etc? Have I ruined my life already? Did I have a string of bad luck? Did I ever really have a decent chance? I think I just want the classic American dream sort of stuff. I am not a teenager, so the fantasies about being rich and famous have mellowed down into a comfortable life with people who I love in a place that is secure enough from financial disaster that I won't have to worry about losing my job or a place to live. Security is my biggest dream, and I dread losing it. Maybe the American dream is dead, and now exists as some sort of phantom haunting people who still believe in it, or maybe being exploited by people with power and money to keep the masses pliant and full of hope for a better life while being ripped off by people with power and money.

I am trapped by my desires for both security and a ridiculously romantic and deeply emotional relationship from an attentive and attractive woman. The first is something that eludes my grasp, and the second, as ugly as it is to say, is sort of dependent on the first. Most of the women in our society are not going to want to have a romantic relationship with a man who has no money, no job, and no prospects of climbing out of the staggering debts he accumulated at University. Universities may have once been avenues for getting ahead and attaining that sort of social mobility that would make me happy, but now it seems they are shells of what they once were. They have become enablers of foolish hope. They will earnestly feed you lines about how they will make you life better, get you a job where you earn a middle class pay, and charge you exorbitant fees in the mean-time. When you graduate, and those things do not materialize, you feel cheated. You see many, many others bitter and depressed about their college experience, and you slowly begin to feel like a giant chump.

I would write more about my own frustrations about this life and the things that once seemed possible but no longer are. But at the moment, I find myself in a position to where my most immediate desire is to figure out a way to remove the sting of pain from the heart of someone else. I am not sure that I can, but I really wish I could.

05 July 2010
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