The oyster problem

by Jon Sullivan - 2023-01-26 - Jonism

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I hate raw oysters, but I love fried oysters. Much like sushi, raw oysters are just not cooked properly.

The majority of my life I absolutely hated oysters. They are objectively gross. But I remember the moment in New Orleans where I first tried a fried oyster. One of my goals for the trip was to finally try the locally famous oyster po boy. It was incredibly delicious. I went in hoping it wouldn't be awful, and left knowing I needed more of those in my life. And while San Diego is not at all a fried oyster place, the Oregon coast is. Every few miles there's a little shack selling crab and fried oysters and chowder. And I stop at these crab shacks rather often now. Pick up a little to-go box of fried bivalves and eat them on the hood of my car. Like I used to do with taco trucks in San Diego.

Moving to Oregon was like suddenly liking oysters. When I crossed the border at the wheel of the moving van I became someone else. I became a person who sought out things he'd avoided his whole life. I did it shamelessly and recklessly and passionately. I remember walking down the middle of the street in Portland in the wee hours of NYE, and realizing that Portland no longer hated me. As it had for 20 years. And all it took for that to happen was for me to stop hating myself. New Years was a wonderful weekend. There were many many tears of joy. It was one of the best days of my life. And the previous weekend had had another best day of my life. The anxiety and self loathing had been left at the Oregon border. I was new Jon. Happy Jon. Best life.

But then I got fired, in a time where tech jobs are vanishing 10k a pop, in a time where no one is hiring and everyone is firing. [editor's note - I checked, and yes, he knows this is bullshit hyperbole. Something about "don't shit on my artistic license". Like he's a fucking professional author or something.] It brought back all the anxiety and self loathing. All of it. All the shit I'd left at the border got dumped back in my lap. The hermit instincts kicked back in and I shut it all down. My joy was no match for reality.

And now that there's been some time to regroup and peek beyond the moat, I find myself in a place where I reject both worlds. The hermit life was a dead-end of denial and asceticism. The joy on tap life was impractical and ephemeral. Some balance is called for. I need a new plan to meld "best life" with smart life. A more financially responsible way to adventure. A more career focused life until retirement. Healthy and realistic doubt, rather than fear and loathing. More Stoic, less joy.

Or something. While the last three months have been incredible, I'm too cynical a person for that to ever have really been my "best life". So 2022 was a huge and fundamental change for nearly everything in my life. But it didn't last. It wasn't sustainable. Which makes 2023 the year I make it less happiness autopilot and more happiness by design. Perhaps that is more Stoic.

I'll be fine. I've run the math and it all checks out.

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