Whirling endlessly like your thoughts
For about a two weeks now, I have found myself lying asleep at night, staring up at the ceiling, watching the fan twirl around, listening to the night noises, and pondering the universe. More specifically, I was pondering my position in the universe. Even more specifically, I couldn’t stop obsessing over what will happen when I die. You probably think I mean something like, “Will I go to heaven?” which I realize raises the question, “Is there an afterlife at all?” but that’s not the case here. My worries are so much more pedestrian. I wonder, “Will anybody be at my funeral? Will they laugh at my life? Will I even have a funeral, or will my remains be disposed of quietly and without notice? Will anyone remember me ten years after I’m gone? Twenty? One hundred?” I know, I know. You’re thinking how that’s super morbid, but it doesn’t always feel that way to me. It’s more like I’m obsessing with this thing because it’s patently unknowable. I also don’t think it’s that uncommon. I’ve talked to friends who obsess over the same thing. However — and here’s where you come in — I wonder if my worries are too old-fashioned. Do “hipsters,” whatever form they come in, worry about their posterity and their place in the world, or is it uncool to let such pedestrian fears haunt your nightly vigils? What keeps you up at night? I don’t mean quite the same thing as nagging worries, like when you’re sleeping in a hotel, and you can’t stop wondering whether you remembered to lock the door, and, if you didn’t, whether or not opportunistic riffraff are in fact breaking into your house at that very minute, pocketing your values with impunity. Those are one-time problems that go away, for example when you get home and find your home hopefully un-burgled. No, I mean the deeper stuff that you can’t shake no matter how hard you try. The intractable stuff that seemingly defies all attempts at finding a solution. The stuff of waking nightmares. What keeps you up at night?
Check that morbidity at the door, bro! No. I’m kidding. What keeps me up at night? We’re probably in more or less the same boat. I lie awake at night and try to figure out if some day, some number of years down the road, I’m going to wake up and realize my whole life was a lie.
What if it turns out there was never any health benefit to insisting on grass-fed meats and heirloom vegetables, because I’m doomed to mutation by the poisonous air and the endless bombardment of cosmic rays, so I might as well have spent my whole life slurping down double quarter-pounders with cheese? What if I deeply regret all the Taylor Swift songs I was too cool to sing along with at parties? What if I wake up some day, look in the mirror and I say to myself, “Shit, DJ, you might as well have cut your hair with kitchen shears and worn the same pair of dirty sweatpants every day of your life”? What if the master tapes for Keeping Up With the Kardashians someday disappear under mysterious circumstances, and it just so happens that I wasted my life reading McSweeney’s (and the San Diego Reader, naturally) rather than letting my reality TV-liquified brain seep slowly out through my ears as I indulge my most basic impulses?
But these worries never last beyond the dawn, because being hipster means living a life with some kind of meaning; and I’ve gotta believe it will work out. We all do.