I googled the phrase “what’s wrong with me?” and 607,000 sites came back. If this doesn’t underline the scarring effects of modern life I don’t know what will. Everyone wants to know the answer to this question. The answer is simple. You are human.
You are a biological being in a constant state of flux. Nothing about your body is static. Therefore you will always feel different from moment to moment. The more time you have to consider these differences, the more they will seem like problems. There is nothing wrong with you, probably, except that you are alive, and therefore dying. And death is a far more common state of being than life.
It’s sort of like a crazy water slide. You go up, you go down, you go round. At the bottom, a calm pool awaits, when you get there, you’ll scrabble awhile, try to stay near the air. But the water is dark and deep. Eventually you’ll sink. The bumps and turns of the slide aren’t problems. They’re just part of the ride. You’ll miss them when you’re in the deep pool. Enjoy them while you still have them.
But I’d like to look at one of the more frequently asked What’s Wrong With Me questions:
“Why am I so tired all the time? I am now getting 12-14 hours of sleep a day (not continous) because I am feeling exhausted all the time. What’s wrong with me?”
There may be something actually wrong with this girl, but most people complaining about being tired are not significantly unhealthy, as their doctors have been unable to diagnose them.
Why are you so tired? Maybe you have nothing to feel lively about.
Well, what do you expect? Driving to work on the freeway and staring at a passing conveyor belt or, more commonly today, the tepid insides of a god-forsaken cubicle, are not particularly inspiring activities. The rules of your life prevent you from expressing yourself. Everything’s a disorder. You can’t drink or take drugs without society or the law slamming you. You can’t enjoy food because you’ve been told your whole life it’s a sin while simultaneouly having plate after plate of it shoved your way. You’re too fat to even enjoy it any more. You feel guilty and angry every time you see it. You eat it fast and without pleasure. You can’t screw like a mad rabbit because either a) you’re repressed by fears of its immorality, or b) you hate your body because it doesn’t look like Brad Pitt’s / Angelina Jolie’s. You can’t love another human being fully because pain is unacceptable to you and love always involves pain. You can’t even be open and honest with your friends because to do so would risk them taking advantage of your openness and attacking your flimsily-constructed sense of status. You don’t really believe in god though you might pretend to. At any rate you don’t understand his role in the world. You certainly don’t see the world as having a master plan, a direction or a meaningful flow. You’re surrounded by wealth but you don’t have any. And yet you have no immediate needs such as hunger or danger. How could you not be exhausted?
Let’s take the question of fear. Would you be tired all the time in Beirut or Baghdad? Or would the constant threat of annihilation raise your energy levels?
We are creatures of fear. We need it. But it needs to be intermittent, forceful and close-at-hand. Like a surly man with bristling features and a heavy club who brutalises us if we miss work. The government and the media use fear to control the American public: terror, they call it now. Once it was Russia, now it is Osama, Russia’s half-aborted spawn. And of course we have always been taught to fear our neighbours, for surely they are plotting our gruesome end, the bathtub filled with acid, the hacksaw newly sharpened. But I believe the government and the media have made a mistake in always turning to fear for the reinforcement of their power.
Under the threat of unseen, far-away, non-specific fear people become morose and, yes, even physically tired. The “malaise” sets in, as Walker Percy puts it, the fear becomes not that the bombs will fall, but that they will not fall. We want the long-threatened horror to arrive so that we can at last relax our tense and nervous muscles, free from fear. In the event of no bombs or no squealing terrorists piloting a Cessna packed with plastic explosives into the nuke plant of our doom, depression sets in, malaise, tiredness. Fear is human, but so is doing something about it. Lighting a fire, making a weapon, facing the unknown. But you cannot face what does not exist. So you wear out.
You become tired. You drink more coffee. Take more pills. Try changing your diet. But it’s no good. It doesn’t help. What is the answer to this situation? People are suffering out there. They are TIRED for Christ’s sake! What can we do?! What is wrong with us?!