Who Says Everything is Meaningless?

When I was a freshman in college, I lived in the “freshman dorm.” Some of you might remember such things. A whole pile of 18- and 19-year-olds, just out of their nests, filled with hormones and alcohol. I remember standing outside on several frigid nights, waiting for the fire alarm to be reset after someone pulled it. I remember the weekend that the pile of vomit just inside the main doorway to the dorm stayed there until Monday when the cleaning staff returned. But I digress. This post isn’t about the wisdom of college freshmen.

This post is about a tape loop in my head. But I want to share a story from that freshman dorm as a segue into my internal tape. There was one weekend — I can’t remember exactly when it was. Something tells me that my roommate was gone for the weekend, because I don’t think this affected him. But I know that the guys in the room next door to ours were also gone. (Maybe this was the end of a semester, around finals? I just don’t remember.) Anyway, when the guys in the room next door left, they left their CD player there, playing the song “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, on repeat, very, very loudly.

Me, trying to read.

Me, trying to talk on the phone.

Me, trying to sleep.

Oh my God I wanted to kill those guys. Everything I did was infused with that song. Everything I thought was affected by that song. Why I didn’t find the R.A. and get him to open the room and turn off the CD player, I have no idea.

But again, I’m not here to talk about college. I’m here to talk about a tape loop in my head. Lately, I’ve been in an existential swamp. I’ve been depressed and mopey. I haven’t been doing the things I know help in times like this — things like walking, and reading, and writing. I have just been reacting to whatever comes along, and not doing much of anything else. And I haven’t even cared. Because when I feel like, “I really should get up and walk now,” the next breath brings this statement: “But it really doesn’t matter. Nothing matters at all. It’s all meaningless.” I should be excited and thrilled right now, because it’s my favorite time of the year, and I just signed a contract with a publisher for my first book. But again, “It really doesn’t matter. It’s meaningless.” And I find I don’t care.

Me, wanting to read.
It doesn’t matter. Everything is meaningless.

Me, wanting to get some exercise.
It doesn’t matter. Everything is meaningless.

Me, wanting to write in my journal or blog.
It doesn’t matter. Everything is meaningless.

And finally, today, thanks to my excellent therapist, I was finally able to realize that it’s just a tape loop. It’s just the same message, over and over and over again. It’s not any deep truth. It’s not my innermost self. It’s just a Frank Sinatra CD playing in my head, forever. And that means there’s no point in trying to argue with it. I couldn’t argue with Ol’ Blue Eyes back in the dorm; I couldn’t reason with him to keep it down. He wasn’t really there. His voice was just a practical joke played by my neighbor. I can’t argue with this voice either.

It’s funny. I thought it was the “Dark Voice,” the name I’ve given to the part of me that is consistently cruel to me, that tears me down and tries to keep me feeling guilty and miserable and depressed. I thought the Dark Voice had been winning these past few months. But no, this isn’t the Dark Voice at all. It’s just a CD he left playing loudly when he went away for the weekend. Who knew the Dark Voice had a sense of humor?

Anyway, now that I know that this “voice” isn’t something I need to pay attention to, perhaps I can just say “whatever” when I hear it next, and do what I want to do. Maybe everything is meaningless. Maybe none of it matters. That’s certainly possible. But even if that’s the case, what harm does it do to take care of myself? What harm does it do to actually be happy that by this time next year, I will be a published author? What harm does it do to pretend that it’s important?

I wonder how many other tape loops I have. Holy crow, I wonder if the Dark Voice himself is a tape loop. That doesn’t seem possible. But I’m going to pay attention for that. Very, very fascinating.

Featured image by zacks from Pixabay.

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