Mix a bitter root into a modestly respectable cup of coffee

Mix a bitter root into a modestly respectable cup of coffee. Scratch some chemicals across the top of your head. Peer into the mirror holding a cosmetic mirror up to see the pate and scrutinize it carefully for signs of new life. A few strands have grown back, and a few more have turned black again from the bitter Chinese root. There is little hope, though, that the head will ever return to looking as if it were the head of someone under 40. Take some sleeping aids and cough suppressants to suppress almost everything–your intellect, your creativity, your will to do and be anything at all. Run smoothly on this even keel of unexceptional selfhood. You don’t say anything offensive to anyone, but you don’t say anything of added value, either. You are a bland, safe gray man who is middle-aged, middle-class and middling in your politics and beliefs. You are not a risk to yourself or others because you don’t have any lows, any more than you would have some extra highs.

Some random books still seem appealing, but you aren’t ever going to crack them open. It’s too exhausting to try to absorb new information. What you know at this age is all you will ever know. Who you are at this age is the person you were made to be, and he isn’t much. You are a DNA passthrough, a stand-in who would do just as well as any man would do. You read a news article about men who are slightly older than you being at risk for depression and suicide, and read about men slightly younger than you who are still being relevant in entertainment, politics and business. Somehow, men who are your age, and probably women too, have been forgotten as a kind of pocket generation that is too young to be GenX and too old to be Millennial. So, you are just an invisible blob, who just exists and breathes and inefficiently contributes to the economy, and pollutes the collective consciousness with bland, safe truisms that hardly anyone would ever disagree with. You sort of get mad at politicians, but then really end up not caring. You sort of care about social justice issues, but sort of not really.

Mostly, you just stare at your hairy navel and consider the lingering sources of chaotic energy that occasionally spring up from this chakric center. It could be severely suppressed anxiety, or it could be bad gas. At any rate, it isn’t that interesting to you, and it probably isn’t interesting to anyone else, either. Go read a book of poems or read your Bible and feel filled up again with something approaching meaning. Even if your life means nothing to no one else, it can still be some kind of mildly interesting experiment.

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