Recently I shared a beer with one of my oldest friends in the world. He’s one of the few – and I mean very few – people who is capable of calling me out on my foibles and I will always take his observations to heart.

“So. If you know so much about how much we’ve altered the planet, how incredibly hard it’s going to be to turn things around, and how little you as an individual are really capable of doing, why don’t you just throw in the towel?”

“Ha. Pull the other one.”

“No, really. I mean it. Think about it logically. You don’t have any children for whom you are obliged to look after the world.”

“No.”

“You don’t have a mortgage, or any other financial albatross strapped around your neck.”

“Nope.

“And you constantly worry that you’re not living life to the fullest.  You fret almost every day that you might look back when you’re older and feel you didn’t enjoy each moment as much as possible.”

“True.”

“So don’t you ever worry that you’re wasting your life fighting a losing battle? That you’re just going to wear yourself out with worry, stress and sleep deprivation, all for nothing? Maybe the system is broken beyond repair, and it would just be nothing but an unequivocal waste for you to spend your life trying to fix it.”

“I don’t like where this is going. I don’t like this story. Let’s talk about something else.”

“No, it’s a fair question. I know you have a litany of sound and understandable reasons to try and make things better, but if it’s a futile effort, why bother? Logically, maybe you’d actually bring more good into the world – your own happiness – by enjoying yourself and sipping rusty nails on some beach somewhere for the rest of your life reading novels.”

“Well… I’d be bored.”

“No you wouldn’t. You’re never bored. Give me a different reason.”

A minute passed.

“Because I’d be unhappy. Doing things I consider worthwhile makes me happy. I like to drink – it makes me happy. But doing it all the time would make me unhappy. Writing about important issues even if just for peanuts makes me happy.”

“What about moving to a hippy permaculture whatchamacallit farm somewhere. You could grow spinach and make mud pies and go for walks through the hills and play with other people’s endearing hippy babies all day. Surely that would make you happy.”

“Well… yes. But that wouldn’t be enough. I need lots of things to do – I need hard things to do, otherwise I get anxious and bored and I have trouble sleeping. This makes me happy because it’s hard and makes me stay up late and get up early. If my life is easy I think I’m not doing enough and then I get stressed out and sad.”

“So there you go. You do this because it makes you happy. You actually are doing it for yourself, not because you want to impress people or be a martyr or whatever. You do this for you – so it should make you happy, for pity’s sake.”

“… fair.”

“Bet you never thought about it that way before.”

“… huh.”

“Right. So stop being sad about things. You’re doing what you can, and you don’t want to do anything else. Cheer the fuck up.”

“OK.”

“Cool, we’ve got that sorted. I’m bored. Your round now. Get a pitcher this time, pints go too fast.”

“K.”

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