A lot of adages are bullshit, but “misery loves company” proves itself true time and time again.
After my Grams died, I decided to become a different person. I was a grumpy obese guy who played computer games and blamed the world for my problems. There are a lot of losers like that out there, who buy the media bullshit and assume as middle-class white guys, they are due riches and success from the world without much effort. When they turn out to be mediocre, and realize that success is hard work, they blame it on affirmative action, reverse racism, feminists and anyone else who after years of struggle is making some of the progress that the Loser has been denied.
Because we mostly speak in pop culture reference these days, let me reference a favorite film, UNFORGIVEN:
‘Deserve’ has got nothin’ to do with it.
If everyone got what they deserve, we wouldn’t need fiction. What most people forget is that what they think they deserve and what they actually deserve are usually two very different things. I don’t believe there’s a Cosmic Santa with a naughty/nice list tallying what we deserve. I don’t believe in karma as a force. But I do believe your negativity wears you down, and may as well follow you like a vengeful spirit. It informs your actions in secret. If you’re angry, envious or resentful enough you will sabotage everything you do, because deep down you know you don’t deserve to succeed. And you project this self-loathing on the world, as paranoia.
You did this to me. Why did you let this happen. Why didn’t anyone tell me.
One of the best lines in fiction is from Cormac McCarthy’s No Country from Old Men:
I ain’t got all that many regrets. I could imagine lots of things that you might think would make a man happier. I think by the time you’re grown you’re as happy as you’re goin to be. You’ll have good times and bad times, but in the end you’ll be about as happy as you was before. Or as unhappy. I’ve knowed people that just never did get the hang of it.
Some people never get the hang of it. Misery becomes a comfortable safe haven that shields them from trying, because trying means failure. But you don’t succeed without building up a callus fro failure. It’s easier to blame the world, to quit at the first sign of adversity, to find similarly bitter men who will share your opinions and never make anything of themselves, because we were supposed to wake up kings of the world. It wasn’t supposed to be work.
Success is what you define it as. I don’t think I will ever consider myself a success, because that way lies complacency. But I have got the hang of being happy, and I don’t allow the miserable to pull me down anymore. I help people when I can. I learned from reading the Bhagavad-Gita in Mr. O’Dell’s class that there are no selfless acts, so I don’t get hung up on why I help others. I do it because I can and because it feels good to see someone else succeed, even if they surpass me.
And I will confess, when I first started writing, boosting others made me worry. What if I don’t succeed? I wasted energy helping someone else that could have gone to me! Now, frankly I just don’t give a shit. I feel blessed that people like reading what I write. That is success, to me. If I compared myself to Stephen King, or Harlan Ellison, or Glen Cook, writers I admire who are at differing levels of success, I’d be miserable. But here’s the thing, I haven’t put in the work that those writers have yet. And I know when I do, I will achieve some level of success- I have already, because you read what I write.
And that’s all I ever wanted, was to put the wild stories in my head to paper and have a stranger enjoy it. And that’s already happened. Thank you, readers. After that, what else is there? Money? I have everything I want. (Except a ’71 Plum Crazy Challenger R/T, but you need to stay hungry).
There will always be miserable people whining about what they deserve and who has what they don’t deserve, and who’s gonna get what they deserve. They lack perspective. They don’t realize that we don’t get to decide what we deserve. If there is a form of karma at work in the world, it’s that minding your business and not concerning yourself with what others’ “deserve” frees you to fight for what you think you deserve.
But that takes way too long to say. Let’s just say “Misery loves company.”