Hell Is Other People

I’m not sure who originally uttered that little gem, but I’m firmly convinced of the truth in that statement. I took a little spring break recently, and The Lady Friend left halfway through to work in the land of the Mormons. Between the lack of work and the lack of The Lady Friend it got pretty quiet around the ole W. household. I enjoyed that first day with just me and the dog, so I decided to ride the trend for a few more days. Four days of talking to no one got me started thinking about the truth behind that quote. “Hell is other people.”

I spent most of my formative years in a relatively rural county in east Tennessee. We had a medium size town of about 20,000 nearby and it was an easy jaunt to Chattanooga or Knoxville. It was boring for a teenage boy, but it wasn’t crowded. I didn’t really appreciate that until later.

Now that I’ve been a Nashville native for ten years I’ve learned to understand a little about how other people are hell. I’m not the easy-going, patient guy I used to be because people constantly push your boundaries. And the more people there are around, the more your boundaries get pushed. After dealing with my daily commute, that moron at Wendy’s, and the couple in the apartment above me who like to fight at 4 AM, I totally understand where some of the old regional stereotypes come from. City dwellers are typically known for being rude and in a hurry (New York City is the pinnacle of this stereotype). Rural people are slower and more hospitable. Why? Let’s just say the Asshole Factor goes up exponentially as population density increases.

I realized all of this after about two days. By day four of just me and the dog it got more complicated. That was when I realized what Al Green was talking about. I was just tired of being on my own. In fact, I may have discovered the meaning of life.

The meaning of life is……… wait for it…….. wait for it…………. Balance. It’s the cruelest irony that too much of just about anything is bad for you. When I was a kid I loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I couldn’t eat them every day because I would ‘stunt my growth’. Then that two weeks I visited my grandparents I had them every day, after that they weren’t quite as enjoyable. Too much time around other people makes you mean. Too much time by yourself and the dog starts telling you the meaning of life. Hangovers are another good example. The proof is everywhere.

It’s that way for just about anything in life. You can’t take the easy way and concentrate on one thing you enjoy because you either get tired of that one thing, or all the other facets of your life go downhill. I think it’s the fault of (insert supreme being of your choice).

Life is like golf. Living is easy, living well is hard.

(BTW - I looked it up. The title quote was from Jean-Paul Sartre.)


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