Some things are just so simple and so abrupt that they change your life.
My V8 moment was The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck and if you have not yet read it, please go do so now. We’ll wait…
Aside from having seriously the very best cover photo for an article ever, Mr. Manson basically discusses how giving too many fucks holds us back. Giving a fuck about being different is the cause of the majority of our anxiety. Giving a fuck about things not meeting our expectations is the cause of 99.9% of our irritations. Giving a fuck is the oil leak of our emotional engines. Not to say that there are not times when fucks are important to give, just that if we don’t pay attention they tend to explode everywhere and leave stains on our lives and our peace. –Except maybe not explode? I’m trying to extend the oil metaphor but I don’t really understand engines, so now it seems like I’m talking about a different sort of explosion, IFyaknowwhatimean. So you know what? Let’s just make this a Mad Libs moment: “It’s just that they tend to ____(verb)________ everywhere and leave ____(plural noun)____ on our lives and our peace.” — Whatever just happened there is on you, weirdo (but hopefully you picked something hilarious and didn’t give a single fuck about it seeming weird).
But see? Like half my blogging is essentially giving a fuck about you as an imaginary judge! What will I even write about if it’s not what a ridiculous wreck I am? (Answer: how much fun it is to be a ridiculous wreck who gives no fucks!)
So about 2 weeks ago, I saw that essay and suddenly my entire life popped into focus like one of those magic eye posters supposedly did back in the 90’s (admit it, you never managed to see a picture either). I have lived a like a giant snail, leaving trails of casually discarded fucks wherever I go (OMG, you can’t combine this metaphor with ANY-damn-thing without it turning dirty! Don’t lie, you know you laughed too). I was miserable. I hated the easiest job on the planet, I hated everything except being at home crocheting in bed. I may have been a little depressed.
It’s funny how you have to get really sick of yourself before you’re ready to do something different. Like, it’s not as if stuff like journaling, meditation, and reflexology from fabulously wise friends wasn’t always there. I was just too attached to my suffering – too busy hemorrhaging fucks about my job, and tiny slights from random strangers, and how I imagined I’d rather my life looked – to pull it together and do them. But you know what? Suffering is really, really boring. And I have absolutely no aptitude for enduring boring things. If it was my aversion to suffering that made me miserable in the first place, it would be my aversion to suffering that would make it stop. So I started doing those things that were available to me, like journaling and meditation and leaning on friends (who seem to actually not mind, surprisingly enough).
And then, by the grace of the great tentacled god Facebook, my teacher appeared in the form of this Philosophy of Fucklessness, and I declared unto the world “Today I shall hoard my fucks and give them, like expensive truffles, only to those who are worth it.”
At the end of the day I still had every. last. one. of my fucks. And I was unusually productive. AND I got my sense of humor back, because not giving a fuck is ridiculously entertaining, because nothing is personal, and nothing is really about you. And suddenly I could see how everyone was just oozing fucks everywhere, and I was all “holy shit, is that what I’m like? That is NO way to live!”
Which is how I became an annoying evangelist for not giving a fuck. Everyone I know who has a problem now, I’m like, “why do you even give a fuck about that?! You do you!” Which may have something to do with why suddenly nobody wants my advice. But seriously, you guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how free this is. I feel like goddamn Neo walking through a matrix rain of fucks.
It’s not as if this is a new idea. The Greek philosophy of Stoicism is, at it’s core, all about not giving a fuck. No less than the philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius said, “Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together…” which translates into modern English as, “though people around me may positively weep fucks, I shall (with the utmost compassion) give no fucks which are not mine to give.”
And eastern philosophy is chock-full of non-attachment, because how the hell else do you survive wave after wave of invading empires and indifferent bureaucracies? The Tao Te Ching says “Fame or Self: Which matters more? Self or Wealth: Which is more precious? Gain or Loss: Which is more painful? He who is attached to things will suffer much. He who saves will suffer heavy loss. A contented man is rarely disappointed. He who knows when to stop does not find himself in trouble. He will stay forever safe,” which MARK MY WORDS means “seriously, quit giving a fuck – it’s completely awesome! Except occasionally when it isn’t, but don’t give a fuck about that either and you’ll be fine.”
So here’s what happened when I stopped giving a fuck: I had more energy and got more done, because giving a fuck all day long is exhausting. I started dancing better, because I didn’t give a fuck how I looked to anyone else. I started working on my novel again because I don’t give a fuck if it’s perfect, I give a fuck about writing and about making some progress. My anxiety levels dropped, and I became a better partner because I wasn’t paralyzed from fear of judgment so I was more able to speak my mind in a strong but loving way. And wonder of wonders, I suddenly felt like blogging again.
My therapist has been trying to get me to understand how much I give my power away for the past 2 years. If he had just come out and said, “why do you even give a fuck about what all these people think?” way back when we started, I’d be able to shoot lightning bolts from my fingers by now. Thanks a lot, Steve. These fingers are *boring!*
There’s only one problem I see with my new philosophy: people are seriously disconcerted by the word “fuck”. Like I know a lot of people who won’t even say it. And I did sort of find my chest collapsing when I tried to explain it to my dad. But you know what? I adore my dad, but that’s his fuck to give, not mine. It’s
no longer never been my job to anticipate everyone’s discomfort and cut it off at the pass. I am not the emotional catcher in the damn rye. If people want to send their fucks running over the cliff, I can only ask if they’re sure about that.