To a first time adventurer, crossing a border can be an exciting prospect. You get a new stamp in your passport. A first taste of a new place.
I’m eating dinner when the thought occurs to me that somewhere in the world another person is dying of hunger. Soon I’m overcome with guilt.
Most often I try to push these thoughts from my mind. Those people dying of hunger are so far away that we’re disconnected. The fact I’m eating dinner has nothing to do with the fact they don’t have any. It’s not my fault and there’s nothing I can do.
As soon as the thought has arrived, my brain gets distracted and it’s all forgotten about. Continue reading First World Guilt
From time to time, I’m confronted with the absurdity of life – the complete ridiculousness of everything.
There was a time long ago when these realisations would make me laugh. I’d be sitting at work one day, thinking about shoes. Like, how crazy are shoes when you truly think about them? Ok, they protect our feet, so they’re somewhat useful, but isn’t it amazing just how seriously people take shoes. How much we judge others based on their shoes. How much thought we put into selecting them, designing them, making them. All this time and energy spent on shoes when they’re just….SHOES! Continue reading The Meaninglessness of Cereal Cafes
One day, many years ago, I came up with an ingenious thought experiment which is the true test of how much I’m enjoying a job.
It’s simple. I pose myself this question:
If I somehow had a magical button that would allow me to black out every day at the start of work, waking me up hours later once I’m finished, would I use it? Continue reading I Can’t Get No (Job) Satisfaction
With each year that goes by, my knuckles get a little hairier and my brow gets a little thinner. I change so gradually that I never truly notice it. Each day I look in the mirror and see the exact same person I saw the day before. Only when I look back on old photographs does it dawn on me that I have aged. Continue reading Adulthood
Whenever I check my emails I am overcome with a brief sense of hope.
This is it, I think, today I’ll get the email of my dreams.
Sitting in my inbox will be a message from the CEO of some fantastic company saying “Daniel, I’ve read your blog and I’m so amazed by your talent that I’m going to pay you a million dollars for you to lazily write one blog post a month for my company. Don’t worry about the topic, just do what you like. That’s how much we value you.”
A fantasy. I check my inbox and it’s empty. Obviously. People rarely email strangers about anything. Who would want to contact another human being?! Isn’t it strange that we live in an age where we’re more connected than ever but nobody can be bothered to communicate. That would take far too much effort. Why is writing an email such hard work?
Instead, we wait. Checking our emails every 5 minutes in the hope we’ll receive something to validate ourselves. Nothing ever comes. Nothing at all these days.
There used to be a time when I’d get spam. That would keep me somewhat happy. For a few seconds I would be one step closer to that fantasy email. My computer would ding, I’d know there was something in my inbox. An email, an email! This is it. Then I’d check and it would be an advert for Amazon or a cry for help from a Nigerian prince.
Tick. Delete. Tick. Delete.
The process gave my email purpose. It became a form of game. I had to check my emails because if I didn’t the spam would build up. My email existed solely for this process of ticking and deleting.
Then something horrible happened. Google started blocking spam. In one fell swoop I no longer had to tick or delete.
Nevermind though, I still had all that legitimate spam to give me meaning. Newsletters, social network notifications and promotions. They all kept me coming back to my email. Gave me some reason to continue.
Then more recently something even worse happened. Google started automatically filtering these emails into folders for me. I never read them to begin with, I just deleted them, but now I don’t even have to do that. Out of sight, out of mind. My email has become twenty times as easy to check, but also it’s now twenty times as pointless for me to bother with it.
I’m left with nothing. My inbox is now a barren desert. Its only purpose is to mock me. “Nobody wants to email you! NOBODY!”
I’ve literally gone for weeks while travelling where I haven’t been able to check my email, then when I finally manage to do it there’s nothing there. Google has sorted and separated it so efficiently that I no longer need to exist. It’s only a matter of time before they start to reply automatically to my emails for me. Then I might as well kill myself because my life will be so automated that it will no longer matter that I’m there.
The only thing I live for now is to check my spam folder. Maybe my dream email was sent there by mistake? But no, it hasn’t been. Just emails for penis enlargement and sexy ladies.
I guess the only way to receive is to give. Send out emails and you’ll get replies. But there’s no fun in the expected. Knowing you’ll get a reply takes away half the fun. There’s no surprise in that.
Once in a blue moon somebody sends me an email after reading my blog. I get a feeling of warmth inside. For a few moments I’m important! I’m loved. My email is validated along with my life.
Yet when it comes to hit reply, I waver. Am I really going to have to spend 10 minutes of my valuable time writing an email? Who can be bothered with that? I’ve got more important things to do.
Like checking my Facebook.
A few years ago now, not long after my birthday, I wrote a blog post that I was pretty proud of. It was entitled, “The Annual Existential Crisis (Birthday)” and was essentially how every year my birthday forces me to become introspective about my life and how I usually don’t like the results.
In the three years since that post, I have worked 4 different jobs in 3 different countries. I have had the happiest period of my life yet really nothing about my situation has changed.
I’ve now arrived in another country and I’m looking for another job and all those horrible thoughts and feelings are swarming back to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been sitting around house-sitting for a few weeks and for the first time in a few years I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and think about…stuff. That’s the worst thing to think about.