My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Aug 16

The Wackness

Category: Life


So, Thursday I went to see The Wackness and it was pretty good. It wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it sparked quite a bit of thinking in me. It’s about Luke Shapiro, a kid just out of high school, selling pot in New York City during the summer of 1994. One of his clients is a psychiatrist, doctor Squires, they trade pot for therapy. Luke also happens to be crazy about the good doctor’s step daughter. I’m not really here to review the movie, except that I did like it overall and I’m glad I saw it, despite the following really unfortunate line, “I see the dopeness in everything, and you just see the wackness.” Still, as bad as that line is, it struck me as true.

I’ve been there, I’ve lived that line so many times. I’ve tried over and over to convince someone that things will work out and life can be something great, but they don’t really buy it. They see problems, obstacles, endless disaster. Trying to talk someone out of that is fucking exhausting. It wears you out until you start to buy it yourself. I should have told her how I felt, rather than hide it. I was just always afraid of losing her, of not being what she needed. 

I actually went into the movie pretty down on myself, like I was kind of a fuck up immature failure. I’ve been fighting that idea for awhile, fighting it and losing. Then, sitting in that dark theater, analyzing that movie and myself, I slowly started feeling better. A big theme was self-medicating through pain; drinking, drugs, sex, whatever. Anything to escape the shit that life can definitely bring. I liked drugs to escape, and when I drank it was less to permanently escape than take a temporary vacation from things that scared me. Either way, being numb isn’t the answer for me. It’s anyone’s choice, but it’s not the one I’m making. Being numb only prolongs a bad situation. I quit the drinking not because people told me to, or to please anyone. I quit because I realized it took the fight out of me and I can’t afford not to fight.

I’ve also realized that I’ve spent too much time fighting the wrong things and feeling bad because I haven’t been winning quickly enough. The life that I want isn’t crazy, or wrong and it’s definitely not impossible, but I felt like a failure because I’m not there yet, I’ve stumbled. Lately I have felt really bad, probably worse than when I got home from the hospital in ’07. About a month ago I got the idea that I was failing and felt that it was entirely my fault. I’ve been really down about it, lately crying about it if I thought about the last few weeks too much. I’m not proud of this, but I have to write about it anyway. I’d sob and say to myself, “Wow, you fucker. Look at yourself. What are you doing? You totally fucked things up.” Watching that movie and thinking about something a friend said, I realized that I’ve done so much to change my life in the last three years and it’s okay to stumble so long as I’m honest. I’m not a failure until I quit trying to have what I want. Three years ago I couldn’t sit in the van by myself without having a massive panic attack. I couldn’t go to a club, or a concert without freaking out. I didn’t leave the house without someone from my family. I’ve changed all of that and more. I’m 27 trying to do things my brother did at 18, but he was expected to do them. He just had to pack some bags and go. I wasn’t necessarily discouraged, but I wasn’t encouraged either. Nobody expected me to have or even want a different life. That I’d want a lover, my own space. Yet, that is exactly what I want and I have been rearranging my entire life to have it, and I’m doing so with a deck that is stacked against me. The idea that I’m too slow or a failure just isn’t right. I started 2007 in a coma, spent months in the hospital. I lost the ability to talk, not gradually like everything else, but abruptly and totally unexpectedly. I lived all my personal nightmares. I’ve had to make so many adjustments, but I make them. I know people who would have handled what I’ve handled far worse than me. I haven’t quit, I’m not going to quit, but I no longer feel afraid to make mistakes and be honest. 

The Wackness didn’t change my life, but it started a train of thought that ended in a good place.


4 Comments so far

  1. Glacia August 16th, 2008 9:30 am

    I quit because I realized it took the fight out of me and I can’t afford not to fight.

    Wow, I really needed that. I’m going to have to stop drinking for a few months and I really haven’t been able to find my motivation. I actually think that line just did it.

    And yes, you’re only truly a failure once you stop. It’s the stumbles that we make that build our strength and give us the experience to take on the next challenge.

  2. Jason Fried August 17th, 2008 3:15 pm

    I truly believe that life throws at you only what you can handle. I suppose anyone to oppose that statement would be dead, but really what I mean is that those are truly most capable will be handed the worst hand. Maybe just laughing at this cosmic joke is enough to get you through some of the lows.
    I also feel that we travel like analog waves, and those who pioneer new lows will ride that into new highs.
    This may be absolutely false, but it does give me hope.
    If I am one of few with broad enough shoulders to suck up some of the negativity dealt our direction, rather than someone else who holds more innocence than I, I guess I will play that part and make the most of it. Some folks are dealt a lot of shit, and it doesn’t really make any sense at all to me. These are just a couple theories that have passed through my head. Thanks for sharing

  3. david August 18th, 2008 11:31 am

    Hi Mike,

    Did not see the movie but am planning on it after reading your review. Being hard on myself is an old habit to break and if watching this movie can help me do that (if only temporarily) it will have served its purpose. Cheers

  4. iamdooser September 4th, 2008 3:14 pm

    “I’ve also realized that I’ve spent too much time fighting the wrong things and feeling bad because I haven’t been winning quickly enough. The life that I want isn’t crazy, or wrong and it’s definitely not impossible, but I felt like a failure because I’m not there yet, I’ve stumbled.”

    I feel quite the same way. In response I’ve put together a book (, redesigned my site (, but I still don’t feel like a winner.

    So…I read about winners. That’s what I’ve been doing.