I don’t want to hate people. Hell, I don’t even want to dislike them.
Sometimes I make eye contact with people. Not on purpose, mind, but I make eye contact all the same. And there’s a certain glow that lives deep in there, a little spark, and it’s that light that reminds me others have their own thoughts, memories and desires. And it’s those little eye-contact moments that scare me because I think hey, maybe they see those things in my eyes and I don’t want them to. I don’t want them to see my naked vulnerability, the scared child that lives behind a thirty-one-year-old man’s eyes.
That’s why I’m a reluctant misanthrope — I hate that other people make me see myself.
But, you know, it’s not really just me. I mean, yeah, I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, but sometimes people piss me off through no fault of my own self-reflection.
Take now, for example. I’m writing this in a Fresno coffee shop (I’ve traveled through a strange chaotic nebula of life-altering events, like in one of the old Star Trek‘s — was it Wrath of Khan? — where they can’t navigate the star-cloud, 1 that’s landed me here for ten days on business conducting airborne ecological surveys, even though I’m an English major and could give a fuck about science) and the people next to me are vapid and loud-mouthed and irritating and it would all be forgivable if only they knew they were these things, but they don’t.
Self-awareness — that’s what really irks me. I like to think I’m considerate of my surroundings (probably to my detriment as I constantly swim against a tide of insecurity and social anxiety) and it pisses me off when somebody affects the space around me. You guys know what I’m talking about. It’s the people standing or walking slowly down the middle of an aisle or sidewalk so that it’s awkward to try and pass them; it’s the people being loud in the movie theater; it’s every person driving a vehicle everywhere.
And hey, I’m no saint. I do these things too, sometimes. But I try and adjust once I realize I’m doing them.
Part of the problem, I think, is the American psyche. We believe in looking out for number one. We are all about individuality and capitalism and the Dream.
And somewhere along the way, the Dream twisted and morphed and mutated into a nightmare. The core values of America became a three-word slogan: Fuck everyone else.
I mean, that’s what unchecked capitalism is, really. It’s fuck everyone else in the name of me. But you didn’t come here for a lecture on political and economic systems. The point I’m trying to make is, look — there’s a newly ingrained mentality in America, and that mentality says fuck everyone who didn’t experience what I experienced, fuck everyone who isn’t in my vehicle, fuck everyone who isn’t part of my conversation or creed, fuck people who aren’t like me. There’s a deep-seated fear hinging on this:
If I have to struggle, everybody else should struggle, too.
Fear is detestable.
What was I talking about?
Oh yeah, the eyes.
It’s the eyes that really get me. I see depravity and desperateness and wounds of wanted love. Their wounds are mine, even if I wish they weren’t. I think all the eyes want, when you really look closely at the glow, is to be loved.
It’s easier to hate though. And sometimes it’s fun.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses:
He thought the world’s heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.
- I should point out, the crew of the USS Enterprise eventually uses the navigational impairment to their advantage, while I haven’t quite figured that out yet. ↩