Caged Orcs and the Horrific World of CMAPT

I’m about to move into an overpriced apartment in Los Angeles without a job, a nest egg, and clearly without a clue.

Or, as a friend of mine likes to say, “dive head first into an empty pool.”

There’s something terribly frightening and exciting about taking a huge leap of faith: you simultaneously feel like Wonder Woman and a shivering chihuahua stranded in the middle of the ocean during a hurricane. One minute you’re on top of the world and the next you’re plunging into a vortex of fear, worry, and general life-nausea. You’re the cartoon character who blissfully walks off the edge of a cliff and carelessly hovers, not subject to gravity, only to plummet to the earth as soon as he or she looks down.

To the people who say their twenties were the best time in their lives: screw you. You clearly did not enter the job market after the 2008 recession.

What was once a decade of youth, freedom, and self-discovery has now become what one of my favorite authors John Green would call a “CMAPT” world: one of Crushing Monotony And Paralyzing Terror.

I’m experiencing these in a very cyclical pattern, and they seem to be directly proportional to whether or not I have a job. When I am employed, the Crushing Monotony line on the graph of my life is ever-increasing. Maybe I just haven’t found the right job. But if the right job involves a computer and a chair with poor lumbar support, count me out. That’s 40 hours a week of my life that I can never get back. And a back I can never get back.

When I don’t have a job, the Crushing Monotony stops but there is a MARKED increase in Paralyzing Terror. Can I support myself? Am I doing more than just scraping by? And that’s really what I want to write about.

If I’m being completely honest, there’s never really a decrease in Paralyzing Terror. It’s always an emotion that seems consistently on high alert in the back of my mind: Am I accomplishing enough? Am I making interesting things happen? Am I leaving a legacy? Am I making my time on Earth matter? Thus enter the ice weasels (thanks Matt Groenig).

I am a person of faith, but no matter how much faith I have, I don’t know if that Paralyzing Terror will ever go away. As the years go on, I’ve just learned to cage it in the farthest recesses of my mind, like a starving Orc craving hobbit flesh. Sometimes the angry Orc escapes and commits serious vandalism in the zoo that represents my consciousness, only to be tranquilized with a blow dart and returned to it’s enclosure by my Thought Police.

We all have our own Orcs loose in our mental zoos. It’s just whether or not we tame them and decide to take that grossly underpaid retail job four blocks away from our house or whether we keep holding out for the chance of something that may never come.

Personally, I’ll take a chance of greatness over a sure thing any day.


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