State of Dissatisfaction

We Americans are a dissatisfied lot, my own drives cripple me, and the sad state of the affairs that is the Super Bowl

What is up with Americans? We produce a lot, we consume a lot, we engage in a lot of warfare, and we destroy a lot. Americans are the world’s leading users of illicit drugs and we are also the ones who fuel the global underage sex trade. We create most of the world’s pornography. I once got into an online discussion with a citizen of Holland and when I told him that his country was where the most vile pornography was filmed—bestiality and rape porn—he informed me that the producers and actors were by and large Americans exploiting Amsterdam’s vigorous protections of free speech and artistic expression.

Inherited Angst
I’ve given it some thought and I have decided that we, meaning Americans, have to be the most dissatisfied people on the planet. This makes sense to me—most of our ancestors came to this country because it afforded opportunity that their own homelands didn’t. People can recreate themselves in America. There are freedoms of movement, speech, religion, and work here. Your station in life is not necessarily determined from the outset, although having a nice chunk of money in a trust certainly expands the options. Still, there is no inherent structural impediment to you or I deciding to go to school and become lawyers, doctors, engineers, or what have you. We are allowed to change. We can practice whatever religion we choose, or we can choose to practice no religion at all. We can form relationships with whomever we choose. While people will grumble and gripe about taxation and over-regulation, we still enjoy a relatively high level of freedom in this country.

No Escape

But at the end of the day, you still have to answer to that face looking back at you in the mirror. My father used to tell me that so many people committed suicide by leaping from the Golden Gate Bridge because they had been running west, running from something, and once they hit the Golden Gate there was simply no place else left to run to.

Myself, I exist in a constant state of dissatisfaction—mostly in regards to my artistic endeavors: writing, painting, and creating music. I live in a state where the ecstasy of success is so temporary and fleeting, and the constant push to create more is always gnawing at me. It’s tough, and I don’t always handle it well. On occasion I drink too much. I’m not good at controlling my emotions, my anger. I spin my wheels and burn energy on meaningless make-work projects so I can feel like I’m doing something useful. I often lose sight of the long view and succumb to the details—death by a thousand little creativity sucking cuts.

I haven’t watched a single complete football game this season, though I did catch the last twenty minutes of the Patriots/Colts fiasco. That one was already over by the time I tuned in, though I hear the Packers loss to the Seahawks was a nail-biter and a heart-breaker. I’ve got no love for Seattle or New England—I wish there was a way both teams could lose.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.