I have the strangest tendency to wax philosophical about life and society while I’m at parties. In just a short time of being present and watching revelry, I mentally retreat and ponder the state of our culture, and the meaning of life, and what I can do that is Good, or that will make me Happy, or both. If I look like I’m not enjoying the party, this is the reason.
Not surprisingly, that pensive and detached mood actually makes me sad and gloomy. I think of how these people, so privileged and so ignorant of it, spend so much energy and resources with foolishness while the less privileged, sleeping on sidewalks and gently tapping on car windows for some small handout. I think of how those who have take from those who have not, how one can be practically guaranteed a life of emptiness if he is born into a particular situation, and how common those situations are. I think of the vanity of the few and how they are put on display for the privileged while millions of the destitute as swept under the rug and kept out of sight. To ignore them is one thing; to actively do away with them is another level of ethical failure. I think of family and friendship, and their loss, and how little we care for others. I often recall that just as the chain is as strong as its weakest link, so is the moral standing of a culture only as good as it treats its neediest members. At parties I think of what I can do about it, but mostly I stew in anger and resentment. I think of how damned I may be if I never fight for these things that are on my heart. And I think of how hypocritical I am, this kid that plays video games and wastes so much time.
Here in India I discovered that it’s not necessarily because of western culture that I behave this way. Watching the Indians do their funky dances and let loose also put me in that state. The trigger may be something intrinsically human in those parties. Anyone who knows me well can tell you how little I think of humanity, and least of all the humanity in myself.
Well, to be practical, I believe that I need a happy person to live with, or else I’ll go mad. And in my defense, I must say that there are benefits to the way I view life, things I know that others never would on their own. Acknowledging a problem is half the battle, as they say. It’s simply that too much of anything is poison. And there’s too much of myself for me; I need an Other to balance my extremes. To laugh at me when I’m too serious. To snap me out of the self-imposed gloom. To be so different that I simply can’t follow my well-traveled, habitual paths of thought to a state of depression. Of course, living with someone that’s different raises some other difficulties, but as far as I know this is the only way to prevent a way of life that would certainly, eventually, crush my soul.
Lacking a life partner, giving also counteracts this negative mood. Benefiting someone else gives me a spoonful of hope, and doing so to someone incapable of giving back is even better a cure for my dark thoughts.
There’s always chocolate to lift my spirits after parties, too. Half a kilo does the job nicely.