A Defense Mechanism

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My thoughts return to a repeated question: are we born to be happy, or is it a learned behavior? I don’t want to know from some study of lab rats, or by analyzing people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. I simply want to know anecdotally, in my own life. I remember being happy, and I remember being sad, but then when I dive into the memories, I can barely recall either. There is a prevailing sense of anxiety slipping through everything, as if I were throwing a caffeine pill into each memory, simply to watch the shearing effect it would have. But feeling happy, and feeling sad, are so rare it strikes me as artificial.
And if that’s the case, then why do I feel so fucking guilty when I’m happy? Not to be left out, I feel guilty when I’m sad as well, but that feeling of guilt seems more appropriate, given my relatively positive circumstances. But happy, happy just about kills me. Because happiness ends, and even when I can acknowledge it, and live in the moment for as long as possible, it still doesn’t seem worth it. Given that my most obvious memories of happiness come from my childhood, it’s likely that I’ve actively trained myself to avoid it: a defense mechanism to a naturally ever-progressing world.

Balance It Out

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I feel like a man possessed. I find myself drifting back down 17th St. in Denver. A place I lived only briefly, but where I felt a rare connection in a city that has the depth of an also-ran Dubai. I write for hours in cafes and bars, and look back on what I’ve written with surprise and déjà vu. The writing is strange to me, but vaguely familiar.
I must look borderline insane, my head resting on the back of my hand, inches from the paper. I drink coffee until I can feel my heartbeat in my eyeballs. And then I switch to beer to try and balance it out. I’m no good after two drinks, but I drink slow, and feel the slow warmth of reassurance spreading through my brain. It’s not a novel feeling anymore, but there’s more pleasure in the familiarity then I would have ever guessed when I was young.

Feel Better

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I forgot for a long time why I ever started writing in the first place. It wasn’t to keep the memories for longer than they would float in my head, and it wasn’t to share the writing with others. It was simple; it made me feel better. It kept me from circling the drain: it was therapist, Xanax, and best friend, all insulating me from the grating quiet of everyday life.
Somewhere it moved away from that. It became another part of my life where I needed to allocate time, another pull on the thin thread keeping things together. And then, when I’d forgotten how it feels to write frantically in a dirty notebook with ink covered hands, when I’d forgotten that it’s even an option, it finds me again. And I realize it’s the simplest siren song: I just feel better when I write.