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run every day

published: 4-20-2019


There will never be a good intro to this post. There will never be an opening statement I can put here that will make me sound any less crazy than I already am.

But that's okay.

Two summers ago, I fell in love with a genre of music I'd like to call "gardenpunk". Generally calm yet raw, punctuated with riffs trailing off into the distance and screaming about being lonely and not happy anymore. Most of the indie songs I had downloaded that fit that, I've long since lost, but Fist Benders is the only one that seems to have stayed, endured the test of time and my shitty memory. Lying sprawled out on the carpet in my room at my grandma's house, light spilling in from the blinded windows, curtains drawn back and restrained with lacy skirt-like things like two angels in one-shouldered dresses.

Sometimes life is fun,
I am upside down,
you are far away,
everyone's selfish,
we all want someone
to share our story with.

- Fist Benders, "Understanding"

Really, the only reason I happened to remember them on this particular day was because of a deep-seated restlessness coming to a head. A pervading sense that there was something before this life, chopped up into bite-sized segments and by my subconscious and sprinkled into my dreams without abandon.

There's a beginning, and there's certainly a middle, but there's no end. Just a blank space, a blot in the book of history where the words trail off into nothing. Ohio State University published a study in 2012 stating that, "when you 'lose yourself' inside the world of a fictional character while reading a story, you may actually end up changing your own behavior and thoughts to match that of the character..." Which would explain the itch in my chest, since these stories never show the end of the character's life, just the middle part where all the good stuff happens. Nobody ever wants to see, or even cares to see, their famed hero live out the rest of their lives happy and content and growing old in the world they've created.

And yet...

And yet.

In a different sort of light, I- and multiple other people here in the gophersphere- have expressed a similar sort of deep-seated restlessness, discontent, dissatisfaction with life here. Cat's boredom with the constant tech talk, the person behind RPoD's desire for the end of the world, if only to burn down all that is fake and surrounds us, kvothe's concern for their friends. There is something wrong with this world around us, and much like a caged animal pacing around in its own confines, we are painfully aware that there is little you or I can do about it. Like we each want to escape to our own personal Rennicas, a world where the decisions of people half the world away don't affect us, a world without tyrranical governmental surveillance and abusive technology.

The anxiety's been pouring into my dreams. It's the same script over and over: my parents break some treasured possession of mine, furious at some indistinct slight my brain is too terrified to give a coherent shape to. They give preferential treatment to my brothers, who are allowed to laze around and take whatever they like from me without recourse. I get fed up and take flight with only what I can fit in my backpack, and they give unrelenting chase, a fatal jailbreak that always ends in me waking up pissed as hell.

I can't move out because I have little to no money, and I can't pay back the college debts I've been forced by my father to accrue because I have little to no money, and I can't get a job to earn money because I'm stuck instead in a place that sucks in money and spits out nothing of value in return. So, much like the Windows user that's read over all the instructions to install Linux but finds themselves mortified at the thought of accidentally deleting all their data and breaking their computer, I sit here, a boat needing to leave the shore but unable to leave the dock.

So this stress, at least for me, materializes in minimalism. An incessant desire to make oneself as small as possible. Maybe in the hopes of becoming so small that, when the boot comes down to crush me, I'll just fall in the cracks instead. If I'm small, and I don't make noise, and I don't feel anything, don't take up any space, nobody will be angry at me, right?

But the problem with minimalism is that the logical conclusion for it is for one to cease to exist. To cleave the night and leave the world unseen. Comfort and happiness and pleasure are not inherently bad things! It's when these things come at the expense of other people or one's own well-being that they need to be reined in. Art, like bacteria and microbes, do not flourish in a sterile environment like the extremes of minimalism require, and they're both necessary for life.

I'll be an ardent minimalist when I'm dead and gone and don't require anything anymore!

To summarize, here's a reply I saw on 8chan one day, dug up out of my screenshots folder:

Don't try to be a minimalist. Minimalism is pure mental illness, depression to be specific. Don't fall for it. Instead you should aim to use the best tool for the job. If it turns out some tiny image viewer is the best then use that but make sure that's true. Don't start using some gimped piece of ass because some guy with a 16gb RAM 500gb SSD Ryzen 7 or some shit is installing gentoo and talking about how st is way more minimal than xterm.

While I don't agree with the extremism of the post, and the inverse- purposely using as bloated as possible software- isn't a good situation either, it's the core idea I like. Use the right tools for the job. Minimalism can be a fun experiment, or a way to squeeze as much life as possible out of old and aging hardware, or a strategy to leave one as little exposed as possible security-wise, but pursuing it for purely its own sake, it can leave one feeling rather... empty inside.

So to Cat and the RPoD writer, I'd say: it's okay if you want to take a break. Moving on to something that leaves you feeling more fulfilled at the end of the day is a perfectly valid strategy. Hell, I should probably cut back on my own rampant Gopher usage as well. Four holes, one of which I don't even update anymore, all of which give me massive anxiety whenever it comes time to publish a post since I have to remember to keep everything the same on each and every one of them.

What I wouldn't give for my own server...