“There’s a form of mental torture called “gaslighting,” its name taken from a play in which a man convinces his wife that the gas lights in their home she sees brightening and dimming are, in fact, maintaining a steady glow. His ultimate goal is to drive his her into a mental institution and take all her money, and soon the woman ends up in an argument with herself about whether she’s losing her mind. American race relations have a similar narrative: An entire set of minorities confident that the everyday slights they’re seeing are real and hurtful, and an entire set of other people assuring them that they’re wrong.”—
It’s taboo to admit that you’re lonely. You can make jokes about it, of course. You can tell people that you spend most of your time with Netflix or that you haven’t left the house today and you might not even go outside tomorrow. Ha ha, funny. But rarely do you ever tell people about the true depths of your loneliness, about how you feel more and more alienated from your friends each passing day and you’re not sure how to fix it. It seems like everyone is just better at living than you are.
A part of you knew this was going to happen. Growing up, you just had this feeling that you wouldn’t transition well to adult life, that you’d fall right through the cracks. And look at you now. La di da, it’s happening.
Your mother, your father, your grandparents: they all look at you like you’re some prized jewel and they tell you over and over again just how lucky you are to be young and have your whole life ahead of you. “Getting old ain’t for sissies,” your father tells you wearily.
You wish they’d stop saying these things to you because all it does is fill you with guilt and panic. All it does is remind you of how much you’re not taking advantage of your youth.
You want to kiss all kinds of different people, you want to wake up in a stranger’s bed maybe once or twice just to see if it feels good to feel nothing, you want to have a group of friends that feels like a tribe, a bonafide family. You want to go from one place to the next constantly and have your weekends feel like one long epic day. You want to dance to stupid music in your stupid room and have a nice job that doesn’t get in the way of living your life too much. You want to be less scared, less anxious, and more willing. Because if you’re closed off now, you can only imagine what you’ll be like later.
Every day you vow to change some aspect of your life and every day you fail. At this point, you’re starting to question your own power as a human being. As of right now, your fears have you beat. They’re the ones that are holding your twenties hostage.
Stop thinking that everyone is having more sex than you, that everyone has more friends than you, that everyone out is having more fun than you. Not because it’s not true (it might be!) but because that kind of thinking leaves you frozen. You’ve already spent enough time feeling like you’re stuck, like you’re watching your life fall through you like a fast dissolve and you’re unable to hold on to anything.
I don’t know if you ever get better. I don’t know if a person can just wake up one day and decide to be an active participant in their life. I’d like to think so. I’d like to think that people get better each and every day but that’s not really true. People get worse and it’s their stories that end up getting forgotten because we can’t stand an unhappy ending. The sick have to get better. Our normalcy depends upon it.
You have to value yourself. You have to want great things for your life. This sort of shit doesn’t happen overnight but it can and will happen if you want it.
Do you want it bad enough? Does the fear of being filled with regret in your thirties trump your fear of living today?
The first time I met George Carlin was May of 1997 at the Conan O’Brien show, back when they used to shoot it in New York City. I was there to promote CHASING AMY and when I found out Carlin was gonna be on the same show, I nearly shit myself. He’d always been a hero and a role model to me, so I brought a DOGMA script along in hopes of asking Curious George to play Cardinal Glick - the marketing maven behind the Buddy Christ.
But shortly before the show, Brenda - George’s wife of 36 years - lost her battle with liver caner. Ever the professional, George kept his Conan booking, but you could tell he was heartbroken. I didn’t bug him with DOGMA that night.
I’d meet the master again a month later at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. He’d already read DOGMA and we were grabbing lunch to talk about whether or not he wanted to be in it. He said he was into it but had one request.
George asked if Cardinal Glick could have a bandage on his finger, which would hide George Carlin’s wedding band. Because, he said, he wasn’t ready to take it off just yet.
“Can I tell you the truth? I never knew that we weren’t that great in high school. I mean we always had so much fun together. I thought high school was a blast and until you told me our lives weren’t good enough, I thought everything since high school was a blast. I think we should go back out there as ourselves, and just have fun like we always do. The hell with everyone else.”—Michele Weinberger.