Obsession Is A Young Man’s Game

If you know me, you know I like stuff. I don’t like stuff a little bit. Casual is not in my vocabulary. I like relentlessly. Tirelessly. Debilitatingly, but in a way that feels life-affirming. 

I didn’t drink for the first twenty-eight years I was alive. Not a drop. I say this because in the not-too-distant past I  got made fun of on a distillery tour for taking notes. I say this not because I’m an alcoholic, but because I have a propensity for polarizing behaviors. I run the gamut of extremes like Michael Phelps doing laps. 

My brain is a rat pounding that dopamine feeder bar. I opened Pokemon Go a hundred times a day for three years. I’ve played pinball for 24 hours straight and have the medal to prove it.

My poor brain has been slamming barrel proof neurotransmitters for the better part of my adult life. An emotional diet of Takis makes strawberries taste like cardboard.

I’m obsessed. With all of it. My hobbies. My vices. My distractions. 

I am them all. I’ve always known a dim undercurrent of doom swam in my river, but it is clear I cannot be trusted in the pool without supervision. 

My pain is masked by productivity. A cursory glance at my behavior reveals a neat, organized, reasonably functional human. At yet, a monster lurks in the daylight. I am indefatigable. That sounds like some toxic positivity bullshit, but only the toxic part is true. I’ve spent my adulthood thinking I had some Rocky-level grit. But it turns out, my meter for judging joy is horrifically calibrated. 

Joy, for me, is like trying to fill a swimming pool with sugar packets. I will dutifully tear open each one and pour each one with a beaming pride. A perverse Sisyphus on a treadmill. Each mangled and discarded packet leaving a trail of devastation and heartache. It counts as joy. But just a shred. Just enough to keep you hunting for the next one. A breath of relief on the surface before swimming to the depths in search of more. Not better. Not best. Just more. 

It happened slowly. Crept up on me like a beer gut. Beware the vice junk drawer. Couple pens here, some paper clips there, and soon you’ve got a chaotic hell-hole which you need a crowbar to open.

I remember joking with my pinball wife about how we couldn’t fathom playing for less than two hours. It wouldn’t even be worth it. We routinely put in eight hour workdays playing pinball. It was nothing. Went down like a couple Tic-Tacs.

Just a couple. Only for fifteen minutes. What’s the harm?

I engage in a number of activities compulsively and without joy. The only relief a momentary reprieve from the crippling weight of loneliness and insecurity. A petition of God to look at my resume. 

But he ain’t hiring.

So I’m here with you after a long absence. I’d rather be doing all those things. Over and over and over again. Bathing in the diminishing returns. Until they ruin my life and those of people I love. But we’re stuck with each other while I try to sort my shit out.

My name is Nick. And I’m a train wreck. 



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