Now I Know What a Portico Is

Hangovers get physically worse with age, but the raw quality of the brain doesn’t change—it’s just the same low-level misery as ever. It’s like having an open psychic wound for a day, where even a light breeze can affect me in ways I’d be fortified against on a normal day. There’s a sad irony here, in that the only time I seem to get drunk anymore is when stress overwhelms me by accumulation, and suddenly it’s over and I’m experiencing something fun, usually something social. And I want to heighten it, to exaggerate it, because I feel deprived of joy for so long that I want it in abundance. And then the next morning, there’s only sadness and anxiety. I’d do better to skip the drink entirely and just go running, read a book outside, go to a museum, do all the things of the idealized day that never quite occurs. It sometimes feels as though it’s been too long since I’ve had the end-of-day feeling of accomplishment, that I was productive in a way that also made me happy. And it seems like such stupidity, such a crime, that I’m letting stress chip away at me in a life that’s temporary. But of course we get swept along in a tide, we have been forever, and just as foolish as succumbing to stress is believing that the point of life is happiness and joy. But at times like these, I could really go for a bit more satisfaction. The reason standing in place feels so bad is that you are never actually standing in place—time is moving, you’re always closer to dying. So any day when you go to bed with a feeling of stagnation is a day that can only be described with the words “time passed.” You’ve lost a day, and gained nothing. I don’t advocate for the mindset that you must accomplish something concrete every single day, because that’s too fundamentally American-psychotic and will only lead to more stress and more failures to meet ridiculous expectations. But spiritual enrichment is a different matter. If I walk around my neighborhood tomorrow for one hour with my architecture encyclopedia book, and learn one or two new terms, it will still be the best thing I’ve done in a week. I’ll forget the new words before I get home, but I’ll settle for the temporary feeling—freedom to step outside the rip tide, to ignore everything, to seize something for myself, to be something other than a life that is speeding toward death while losing control of the story.

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  1. iQOS says:


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