I have the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin stuck in my head.
I’m in the last week of performance for “Julius Caesar,” and I find myself in the same depressed, post-show funk I’m always in when a show closes. When I’m rehearsing or performing, nothing else matters: not my bad financial situation, not the stack of bills I don’t know how to pay, not the impending threat of bankruptcy, not my failure to find a better job, and not even my sad, sad love life, because I’m doing what I love. But I also use it as an excuse not to deal with these things. I give myself a free pass to be happy, to be free. This leads me to the question of whether happiness for me just means denial. Is it a total lack of dealing with my problems? Is that the real meaning of happiness? WTF?!
Now that the play is coming to an end, I am filling my time with other things: books, movies, friends, guys. One day this week, I went to happy hour and then fell asleep at The Hunger Games; another day I went for a great bike ride around the tidal basin, then downloaded a new book onto my Kindle and read all night. Now I’m going to a jazz club tonight to try to fill the void. I am realizing that in between plays this is frequently what I do, and it’s not just me. This is the life of the Urban District, and I’m guessing it’s not just D.C. folks, it’s people from other cities as well. Like Chris in Philly, I find that only a handful of my friends actually like their jobs or are fulfilled by them.
My friends work to live, they don’t live to work. We count down the hours on the clock until we can go to hear our favorite indie band, take a free class on home brewing beer, or hang out with our friends. Go, go, go. Even downtime for me is excessive. I can’t read a chapter or two of a book, I read the entire thing in one night.
My next question for all of you out there is, is this always how it’s been for city folk? Is this just a symptom of being in an urban environment that moves so constantly, or is it more a generational thing?
We (the under 35 crowd) are accused of spending too much time social networking and browsing, etc., and I find that does indeed feed the frenzy of my need to do things. Friends post or send me links to events, and we make plans between clients and meetings. But then I hear stories about how crazy things were back in the ’80s when everyone on Wall Street and the Hill was snorting a bunch of coke, and I congratulate myself on the fact that at least our generation of urbanites has chosen to drown ourselves legally.
In part, it seems like a symptom of the economy. Young (if early 30s is still considered young) people have less hope than ever for our future and the future of our children, which is making many of us put off our responsibilities as adults. Though many of my friends have kids, lots of us don’t. Out of the 6 of us 30-somethings writing on this blog, only 1 of us has a child. Seems like the same thing is happening in Japan. We don’t own the happy, stable lives we grew up thinking we’d have. We feel stuck. So we drink. We read. We chat on Facebook, and Google, and Twitter, and text, and overstimulate ourselves to the point of oblivion to make it okay.
Happiness is…? You tell me, Charlie Brown, ’cause I’d love to know.