What’s the best way to shake off inertia and bring back to life a long-defunct blog?
Hello again, blog.
“Get a Girlfriend!” (first posted November 28, 2012)
Stop! Obama Time!
A friend and I were talking about this video the other day, over a coupla beers. “How jobless must he be,” she said, “to go through all those videos in the White House website, snip out the words and patch ‘em all up? I mean, I love the video and all, but doesn’t he have a girlfriend?”
I hear this all the time. Everywhere. The need for a girlfriend/partner is decidedly more paramount than any other endeavor.
Created a massive floor of spectacularly cascading dominoes? Pffft, you don’t have a girlfriend.
Walked 300 kms from desert to jungle? Pffft, you don’t have a social life.
Worked in a NASA/JPL program that shoots probes into space? Pffft, you’re a nerd. Girls hate nerds.
Had a huge a career jump, and got miles ahead of your peers? Pffft, you’re 30 and still single. You’ve achieved nothing in life.
Girlfriends are nice. They’re with you even when you’re boring. They remind you of stuff you had to do that you’ve completely forgotten about. They’re steadfast companions. The sex is regular. These are all things any guy would love to have, and should strive to get. But surely there’s more to life than that?
I’m a guy of many (alarmingly short-lived) hobbies. I’ve tried my hand at (and got bored of) writing fantasy epics. I’ve dabbled with Photoshop for years. I’ve played videogames for 17 hours straight, days on end, living off chips and coke. I’ve spent many weekends on my couch, neither showering nor pooping while I watched the very best of IMDb’s Worst 100, back-to-back. I’ve attempted clay-modeling, and I’ve tried origami. I’ve collected toys, and have spent quite a lot of time hunting down transformers in toy-stores all over the city. I’ve engaged in a number of seemingly pointless activities that sound downright weird, but it still gives me some sort of satisfaction.
Mind you, I was never good at any of these things. I try, I lose interest, I move on to the next obsession. Which is why I have immense respect for those who go all the way with their hobbies and pursue it to a point of real achievement. Like the guy who gets to the top of the “Call of Duty” leaderboards, and is now forever quoted in gamer forums. Like the obese movie-buff, whose insightful movie reviews have now garnered attention worldwide. Like the transformers fan who is revered for having every single robot that’s ever come out since 1984. Like the lady who wrote erotic fan-fiction and now gets millions of dollars in royalties.
And all this is somehow lesser than having a girlfriend/social life?
Yes, we’re social creatures. Having relationships with friends, family and romantic partners give us joy, comfort and a sense of balance in the grand scheme of things. We get a high from knowing that we are wanted and loved. It’s a heady feeling.
And yet, there is one facet of mankind that also keeps us going: we seek purpose. Food and fornication isn’t simply enough. We want to pursue things. We want to reach milestones. We want to boldly go where no man has gone before. We have a definitive set of needs, tangible or otherwise, and we work towards getting there. We seek fulfillment in what we do. This innate sense of ours has driven us far ahead of our simian peers, and indeed all other organisms.
Civilization was built upon these tenets. What would Greece have been like, if a young dude named Alexander hadn’t thought to himself, “Well, screw this shit. Greece needs more land, and more renown, and by Zeus I’m gonna give her both!” What if he’d simply lived off his daddy’s riches and slept around with whores (or little boys, if some historians are to be believed).
What would the world of science have been like, if Newton didn’t scratch his head and go, “Dafuq?!” What if he’d just gone home and told his lady, “Baby I got bumped in the head – I need some luuurrrve.”
Or if Edison didn’t say, “To hell with it, guys. We’re gonna try out every goddamned thing in this house, until we get this goddamned lamp to work!”
The Ancient Greeks had a word for this: Thumos. It’s one of those untranslatable words that can mean a lot of things, and the sum of them all. Desire. Purpose. Passion. Rage. Pursuit. The urge to go beyond our baser needs. The thirst for challenge. For achievement. For glory.
In a world where we no longer need to fight for survival, where we no longer need to trail-blaze our own paths in life, where we can effortlessly assimilate into the enormous machinery of civilization thanks to the efforts of those before us… we have nothing to feed our thumos.
Eventually, people find ways to satisfy their thymotic urges. Some quit jobs and take up something radically different. Some travel the world with nothing but a backpack and a “let the devil take all” attitude. Some jump off stratospherically high balloons, just for the heck of it.
And some collect comic-books.
Make no mistake, the people who most think “have too much time on their hands” – the cosplayers, the Youtube video editors, the dinosaur-buffs, the comic-book connoisseurs, the insomniac gamers – may not be Felix Baumgartners, but they’ve certainly got his focus. And that’s more than what most people can say for themselves.
Call us butt-hurt. Call us defensive. Call us wusses for not getting any headway with the women, all you want. but the next time you tell us “Get a girlfriend!”, we’re telling you “Get a fucking hobby!”