A self-described “anti-depression guide/guide to a freer, more lawless life,” The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad (Pioneers Press, 2013) examines the root causes of sadness, anxiety, and general boredom. Author Adam Gnade recognizes the demons in one’s own self, and offers tips and self-realized advice on how to live a smarter, happier life. This excerpt urges the reader to “open your eyes,” and realize that while there may not be a true meaning to life, one can still find meaning in life.
In a Plane Above the Midwest
It’s dark and I have my reading light on and it’s just me, 4 AM, the red-eye 12:40 out of Portland, everyone asleep in their seats, the cabin rocking to the side with (gentle) turbulence. The plane drops in space and the luggage makes a jostling sound and the engines scream out there in the cold and black. (The seatbelt lights go on…ding. What was it Blake sang? “Look at these passengers / If there’s babies I’ll survive”?)
I’m reading a book, but I’m thinking about my friends back in Portland and I can’t keep focused. When you live out in the middle of nowhere and (nearly) everyone you love is off somewhere else, you put a greater importance on the smallest of things: a few minutes in a quiet bar with Dan and Conner and Lindsey and Ray; meeting Erik in the rain outside Valentine’s; Mia playing “Wild Horses” on the bar juke and you think of Jessie crying in Golden Hill, 2004, enough to break your heart. It can be heavy but it’s all affirming because you don’t get it so often. Which is to say, I’m glad to be headed home because I like how I live, but I’m not sure home will ever be home until all the people I love are there. Of course that’s impossible, and if you dwell on it, the longing will drive you crazy.
Maybe that’s why people want to go to heaven so bad—all your friends and family (present, past, and beyond) are there and accounted for. I know a few things but I don’t know about heaven. What I know is this: Life is short and lonely and mean but there are good things that make it worth living. The idea is to grab those things when they show up and hold onto them as long as you can. Of course you can’t hold them forever, but what can you hold? Nothing. Life is water through wet cloth. It’s all trees and sky passing by a car window, and you can never own any of it, no matter how hard you try and no matter how much you want it. The key is to make your peace with that and have as much fun as you can without hurting anyone. There’s no meaning of life but there is meaning and life, and it’s there waiting for you. All you need is to open your eyes wide enough to see it when it comes along.
Read more from the mind of Adam Gnade: Quit Your Job, Be Your Own Boss, Live Free.
Reprinted with permission from The Do-It Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad by Adam Gnade and published by Pioneers Press, 2013.