This fucking sucks, and I don’t want to do any of it

A normal person’s guide to meditation and self help

Life bristles with things we’d rather not do. Not just the usual stuff like laundry and dishes. I’m talking about meetings on Friday. Red-eye flights to cold cities without beaches. Actually reading instruction manuals. Giving your spouse a massage because he asked really nice.

Anything when it’s chilly and wet outside.

I’m talking about things that make you swear to yourself. That make you scream inside your own head.

Don’t worry, I’m here with a solution to help you through these tough moments. It’s a little Buddhist mantra I came up with in my mid 20s. Back when I stayed awake for 30 hours once a week to get everything done. Are you ready? It goes like this:

“This fucking sucks, and I don’t want to do it.”

Over the years, I’ve come up with some alternatives like:

“I fucking hate this, and I want to die.”

And finally:

“Jesus Christ, is this ever going to end?”

You can chant these to yourself in a warm, soothing voice while sitting on your toilet. Also try covering your head with your hands and rocking slowly back and forth. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you feel after five minutes. Now you’re ready to face the world with a smile.

This tactic helped me through grad school. It became a real life saver on one of my most trying ordeals — a bad cold during a campus visit.

First, let me explain the difference between a campus visit and a job interview. An extensive job interview, if you’re a finalist, might last several hours. A campus visit lasts for two and a half days.

Campus interviews are brutal. Deceptive. And cruel.

For starters, faculty will take you out for dinner at a nice restaurant. They’ll pay for it. They’ll tell you to order whatever you want. But you’d better not. You’re going to order a hamburger. Or a club sandwich. Mmmm.

The faculty will tease you. They’ll tell you to “live big,” but they don’t mean it. Dangling expensive food in front of starving job candidates is the height of entertainment for them.

They’ll also encourage you to order an alcoholic beverage. Gasp. You’ll want one. But you can’t have it. Even worse, they will order wine and beer and drink it in front of you.

The sadistic bastards.

That’s right, they’ll fucking drink alcohol in front of you. As a trap. But I learned their game. To win this riddle, you have to order a glass of the cheapest wine they have, and let it sit on the table.

Occasionally bring the glass to your lips, and pretend to drink. You’ll be exhausted by that point. And exhausted looks slightly drunk. But you won’t be drunk. You’ll be fully in control. And you’ll look cool.

That’s what they want. A well-crafted persona.

I’m sorry, we’ve gotten a little off topic. Let me emphasize that you’ll constantly be chanting, “This fucking sucks and I want to go to sleep” in your head for the entire dining experience.

That’s your mantra. Find your center. Namaste.

Now, about my cold. The day before my campus visit, I came down with a major one. It happened in the airport, where I sat for hours watching Delta push my flight back 45 minutes about six times before they canceled it. Every cold starts the same way for me. Tightness in the shoulders. A roaming body ache. Fatigue. And then sinus pressure.

A handful of phone calls and some reshuffling ended with me landing seven hours late. Around midnight. At an airport two hours away from campus. So I had to put a rental car on my credit card and drive through the rain with a deepening, devilish cold. But I knew everything would be okay.

Because I had my mantra:

“This fucking sucks,” I chanted to myself. “I don’t want to do this.” It sounded weird though, because I couldn’t breathe through my nose.

Here’s what I’ve realized. You’ve got to let your protests out. You can’t let them build up. That’s suicide.

We live in a fucked up world. With fucked up expectations. How did it get like this? My grandma-in-law used to be a teacher.

Her job interview lasted ten minutes.

So allow yourself to swear inside your rental car on the way to a 30-hour campus visit. While you’re coming down with a cold.

At some point, I stopped at a gas station and loaded up on overpriced cold meds. Dayquil single packs. All they had. Which I didn’t get reimbursed for. University policy. Only food and gas. Absolutely nothing else.

So I woke up at 7:30 a.m. the next morning. Got ready. Went down to the hotel lobby for breakfast. Who did I see? My escort. Fifteen minutes early.

She grasped my hand and apologized for showing up before the time on my schedule. It’s just that she wanted to make sure we didn’t hit traffic.

My first reaction, “Fuck you, bitch! You can sit there and wait for me to have my coffee and a bagel.”

Instead I smiled and said, “Okay, let’s go!”

My mantra kept me going. While she talked, I let the ancient teachings of X echo through my skull. “I fucking hate this, and everyone should die.” The raging current beneath a thick layer of ice.

My story has a happy ending. My cold got a little better. My flight out got canceled. So I trudged my ass down to the Red Lobster outside my hotel. Tried to order two to-go boxes “full of lobster,” but they made me order off the menu. After staring at it for five minutes, the print came into focus. So I ordered three lobster pasta whatevers, and a big side of their delicious bread. I dined off lobster and Nyquil and wine, and watched Netflix for an entire day. Probably the happiest day of my life.

NyQuil and wine won’t kill you. But you have to be careful.

Drink some water, too.

The next day, I spent that in an airport chanting, “I hate this fucking shit. I don’t want to do this.” But it was worth it.

My mantra has worked wonders. I’ve managed to do all kinds of things I didn’t want to. So remember, kids. The secret to life is cussing a lot at yourself. But never at other people. You’ll get arrested, or fired.