Life in a Claw Machine


Last night, I reached a state I do sometimes: Nothingness. To characterize it as boredom would be wrong; I don’t get “bored.” Rather, it’s just…nothingness. It’s being a dead fish carving out a crater in my bed, mindlessly scanning my social media platforms, but not really engaging.

There were multiple tabs open on my Google Chrome browser with stories I knew I wanted to read. There were multiple stories open on Safari on my iPhone that I knew I wanted to read. There’s Netflix or the WWE Network literally waiting on my PS3 for me to absorb myself into and binge on. On Netflix, I was half-way through The Sixth Sense — a renewed watching, as it’s one of those films where it’d been so long since I’ve seen it, I might as well not have seen it — and I wanted to finish it. At the end of my bed was the new book from Ronda Rousey I had started earlier in the day. I was 60 pages in and sure, it’s an easy read, but I was engrossed and loving it. I wanted to read it. Hell, there were about five backlogged blog ideas I wanted to get to and write, too.

I wanted, I wanted, I wanted. 

But I didn’t. I just laid there like a dead fish, carving out a familiar hole in my bed. It’s a phenomenon that overtakes me sometimes, as I said, and it’s frustrating because there’s ALL THESE THINGS I WANT TO DO and I don’t do them. I have to push them back and back and back.

As it happens, I was drifting to sleep or trying to at least and a thought came to me, especially as I lay in that prone corpse-like position: This — life — is sometimes like a claw machine. Stay with me on this.

There you are in the claw machine with the other cogs of life, just waiting. That’s what the nothingness feels like sometimes; like you’re waiting for the nothingness to not be nothingness. For a spark to come. Or in this case, the claw to come pick your lifeless body out of the pack and carry you over to the way out.

Sometimes, other ones get picked and you watch them get carried out and you wonder, why them? How did they get picked? What do I need to do to get picked? But you stay your blob of nothingness waiting for the alluring shadow of the claw to dangle over you, ever the temptress.

Then, one day, the claw finds you; holy shit, you’re moving! There’s the spark! Productivity is occurring!

But the claw drops you half-way and goes on without you. It was a meaningful effort to defy the Gods of Nothingness, but the Gods of Nothingness are pretty fucking powerful. Or you’re just slippery, I don’t know. Less oil, man, but I digress…

Okay, so it happens eventually, right? Eventually the claw does get you, holds on to you and shows you the way out of the claw machine. Now you’re no longer looking through the prism of clear glass wondering what it’s like on the other side. You are on the other side.

Unfortunately, as anyone that’s ever gotten something from a claw machine, the zeal to actually get it is far more interesting than the zeal in having it. Therefore, you end up in the dustbin in a basement or you’re passed off to some wide-eyed kid and now you’re just drool-fodder for their new puppy.

So, the cliche about the grass being greener on the other side, you come to learn the grass is burnt brown. Motherfucker. The Gods of Nothingness control both realms.

Yeah, I think I’ve exhausted the metaphor here. Perhaps peeling away the fancy literary device, maybe the word to describe it is simple: it’s depression. But that’s a big word. That’s a scary word. That word means and entails a lot of things.

That word is like the dumbass teenager that can’t win at the claw machine, so they want to rock and rock the machine until it falls over.

Depression wants to break you. It’s a suffocating word. It’s a suffocating proposition.

And then it’s a new day. New cups of coffee. New cuddles with the dog. New blog posts. New articles. New musings. Renewed finishing of The Sixth Sense (really quite good). Renewed energy and productivity.

Then, as the day wears on, you realize it was an illusion and you’re actually still in the claw machine; your position just shifted allowing for the illusion.

Back to the waiting game. Back to nothingness. On we go. And then this:

becomes some sort of fucked up torture. They’re probably using that in Guantanamo Bay.


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