Everyone needs a reason to survive.
Some people have a lot of reasons handy. Others, like me, may find them running a little thin these days. Luckily, surviving doesn’t require a good reason.
The “good” reasons (like the people who love you or the things you always wanted to accomplish in your life) may be too much pressure in an especially dark moment. In times where it is difficult to conceptualize even very short-term survival, I think an especially absurd reason to continue living creates a sort of super high-powered feedback loop where the absurdity becomes laughable enough to break the oppressive weight of believing any feeling is permanent.
Here are three reasons that I have used recently, in no particular order:
• If you are an adult with access to a little money and a reasonable method of transportation, there is not a single thing or person who can stop you from getting three or more different kinds of ice cream on the same day. Yes, even dairy-free and/or low-sugar ice cream. Heck, if you can get to ice cream shops that give out samples, the money might even be optional.
On my worst day last week, my partner reminded me of this and it was a total game changer. I put on some sweatpants and went on a ride to get a big sundae with two flavors and all the toppings. I ate it on a park bench in the sunshine and, even though I was still really miserable, it was undeniably tasty. I was glad I hadn’t died before eating it.
On the way home, I picked up a pint of another flavor and, after a nap, I ate that too. The next morning, I got Dairy Queen for breakfast.
Did it fix any of my problems? No. I was, however, amused enough by the novelty of the experience to almost forget that I’d started it by wishing my life would end. And it reminded me that dying effectively terminates my ability to try new flavors yet to be produced. What a bummer it would be to stop existing before the best flavor in history is released.
• If you quit now, there is also a 100 percent chance you will miss the opportunity to witness an animal doing something cute or ridiculous. Most animals have shorter lifespans than humans, so the funniest animal you will ever encounter might not even have been born yet. The internet is packed with examples. I am certain you have not reached the end of the available content.
If this sounds foolish, it’s because it is. If you’re offended by how foolish the suggestion is, I challenge you to go spend an hour looking at cats falling off of things. Then you can get as mad as you want at me for wasting your time on such a frivolous pursuit. You should carefully craft a strongly worded email to let me know in no uncertain terms I’m wrong. You might even consider posting the interaction on social media and arguing with friends and family about it.
Done properly, the whole endeavor could get you through as many as three full hours of seemingly unbearable existence.
• Last but not least, spite is a good reason to do almost anything, but it is the best reason to remain alive when you would most prefer not to do so.
I am straight-up angry at having to exist most of the time, but you know what makes me angrier? The idea that Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi or someone equally offensive and useless will outlive me.
If other people are making your life worse, you should take some time to list them all, enumerating their offenses. Dying is a surefire way to guarantee their victory over you. As long as you can get through another day, you will get another chance to experience the greatest revenge of all: joy.
Maybe you’re not feeling particularly despondent at this particular juncture. I’m happy for people in that position.
For everyone else, none of these ideas is a certain path to feeling happy or fulfilled. There is no certain path. Death, however, ensures the impossibility of happiness or fulfillment.
From a statistical standpoint, your odds of feeling better are 100 percent improved if you can find a way to bide your time. Feel free to hit me up (or dial 211) if you run out of ideas.
Bre Kidman is an artist, activist, and attorney (in that order), and the first openly non-binary person in history to run for the U.S. Senate. They would be delighted to hear your thoughts on the political industrial complex at [email protected].