To survive from day to day, I remain apathetic at all costs. Self-awareness is painful on a deep a visceral level. Any action requiring constant conscious thought-continuous mental attention-feels physiologically impossible to me, as if due to some mental defect or miswired brain cells.
I only exist via constant distraction stealing my attention away from the moment, and this has always been the case. As a child, I had an extremely detailed imagination and passed the time by creating and memorizing my own incredibly detailed fantasy world. As I got older, I turned to doodling instead, drawing intricate maps of imaginary lands, losing myself in the minutia of the histories and cultures I thought of to accompany them. Older still, I turned to an obsessive consumption of books, spending every spare moment with my head down at the page.
Now I let my mind rot by keeping it focused on the internet, computer and video games, or T.V. Just the latest in a lifelong string of distractions that let me live day to day. I don’t know if I lack some ability or if I am merely too weak-willed or flawed in some way. I don’t even know what I am distracting myself from. Maybe it’s a psychological coping mechanism from childhood trauma. Maybe it’s my way to cope with the painstaking sluggishness of the passage of the time. Maybe it’s how I distract myself from the utter futility of life and the inevitability of death, the pointlessness of existence itself.
Everything is ephemeral. My dread is the despair of Ozymandias-nothing withstands the erosion of the sands of time. The nihilism inherent to my perception of reality is impossible to ignore, yet impossible to recognize without surrendering to its inevitability. I gaze into the abyss, and I am overcome. One day I will be dust. One day, my entire existence will be forgotten, my lifespan an imperceptible instant to the universe. My ego, my inner self, is pointless for any frame of reference I can comprehend. So I willfully fail at my comprehension of self to hide from the painful curse of self-awareness.
I distract myself in order to continue living. The life I live is nothing but habit, going from one day to the next with my head down, enthralled by its distractions. I function and feel emotions by keeping my higher reasoning skills pointed literally anywhere but at critical self-reflection. I can’t turn back from realizing the futility of life itself. My only recourses are delusion and distraction. They help me cope to get by, even to be happy on most days. But how can I reconcile my desire to live a full life with my awareness of its futility? Depression has sunk its teeth into me. The lights have gone out, and I cannot see for miles, trapped in the web of my own thoughts.
Justin Coleman is a student. He loves books and board games. His interests are maps, politics, elections, Latin America, Greece, feminism, the environment, PredictIt, Paradox games, soccer, and music you probably haven’t heard of. He has been journaling for over a decade to process the intense emotions and mood swings of his bipolar disorder. You can connect with Justin on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.