Tad's mission in life is to have more fun than anyone else in New York City, and this involves a lot of moving around, since there is always the likelihood that where you aren't is more fun than where you are.- (pp. 2,3Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney)
Have you ever felt alone? Really, truly alone? The kind of alone you feel when the whole world is revolving, people are living their lives, and you’re just THERE? You’re a part of the scenery to everyone else, not a living breathing carbon-based life-form. Ever felt the pain from having someone look right at you and not seeing you but seeing the wall behind you? Have you ever been hanging out with your friends and felt like something didn’t belong… only later realizing, that something that didn’t belong, just happened to be you? Ever felt like you could relate to one of those little hamsters that just keeps running on its wheel? Ever felt like you're always two steps behind, running at full sprint but never able to catch up with happiness? Running and running and running, trying to get somewhere, but stuck in the same place?
Admit it, we all go through periods where we feel smaller than a speck on the wall. We all feel the emptiness of being alone in the crowd from time to time. And we’ve all felt the urge to jump off the hamster wheel that our lives have turned into. We’ve all looked up “ennui” in the dictionary and seen pictures of ourselves staring back at us.
Did you get tired of running in pursuit of happiness long ago and decide to be complacent and watch the rat race from the sidelines? Seeing other people chase and catch up with it? Or maybe you had happiness, and it slipped through your fingers because you took it for granted. Maybe you only get one or two shots at happiness and if you mess up, you're basically screwed. You're stuck living with "good enough" rather than being truly happy. The hamster wheel keeps spinning long after you've grown weary of running on it and by the time you finally realize that you've done all that running and it hasn't gotten you anywhere, you're just too damn tired to get off the wheel and start running in a direction that WILL get you where you want to go.
“To thine own self be true.”—straight from Shakespeare himself. We hear it in our heads and in our hearts, we try to live it. We try to live the dream. In reality the people who actually succeed in living by that, the people who remain true to themselves are the ones who are smiling, the ones who are oblivious to the plight the rest of us share. We look up to them, we long to have what they have. So we chase their dreams and live their lives, and that’s when we find ourselves being stuck on our hamster wheels. We try to live lives that aren’t ours, emulate people we have nothing in common with… and in trying to be true someone else’s self we forget who we are. And then we realize, we’re hamsters and there’s no way to get off the damn wheel.