I think it was Flannery O’Conner who said he didn’t know how he felt until he wrote it down, so please bear with me as I try to figure some stuff out.
As is the norm, my title is a song reference (‘Money Maker’) that sums up how I feel right about now. It seems the older I get, the fewer fucks I’ve got. If you’d told me when I was a kid that the fucks you’ve got are finite, I’d have spent them a hell of a lot faster, because this shit is GREAT.
Reasons not giving a fuck is great:
-Embarrassment is a foreign concept to me
-I feel more or less untouchable (see above)
-Things are a lot less stressful when you just don’t care
-I’m more pleasant to be around
-I take more risks
-I’ve accepted the inevitability of death and feel about 1,000x lighter
Reasons giving a fuck sucks:
-You’re embarrassed ALL THE TIME
-You play it safe (and experience nothing)
-I asked a girl (who clearly has a surplus of fucks) what her opinion on something was and she told on me to her boss — this does not sound like a fun person to be
-Dying is scary when you care
Now here’s my problem: this FEELS great, but is it the sort of thing where you’re happy not caring, but everyone else thinks you’re an asshole? If you truly don’t care, does it even matter? Where does your social obligation to others vs. your obligation to yourself start and stop? I feel like if I ever have a kid ima tell them to chuck their fucks out the window in handfuls and live that good life, but will that mean I’m just contributing to the narcissistic me-first culture that predominates western life? That last existential question is the only one that niggles at the spot of my brain that used to house fucks, looking for one to give.
Not giving a fuck doesn’t mean you go around watching people suffer and doing nothing, it means not internalizing the external. It means being comfortable in your own skin and not letting other people’s shortcomings become your problem. It means being confident in yourself as a stable person to not need to feel swayed by opposing ideas. BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from a new perspective.
Just for the record, I’m not preaching these ideas, I’m figuring them out as I’m writing them.
I think if you’re a solid person, you can afford to give no fucks. But I also think people only become solid by experiencing the good and the bad while they still care. If you’re born not caring, you’re essentially a sociopath. But if you learn empathy and right and wrong and what it means to be a decent person, you can discard caring about other things because you’ve got your A+ foundation.
I tried explaining this to my father and my half-sister recently. They are estranged from each other, and both have significant shortcomings that lead to the estrangement. They’re way too alike to not butt heads, but I tried to explain to them if you’re a complete person, you can exist in somebody else’s life and not absorb their toxicity. If that person is important to you and you want to have a relationship with them, it is possible to coexist and not be harmed by them. It’s only now dawning on me that living like that actually isn’t possible for them, because neither of them have a steady foundation. Their foundations are missing huge chunks, and their cornerstones are their own self-preservation. If the sum-total of your experience in this world is your own comfort, you can’t venture too far out into this wide, strange world.
This is actually how I’ve managed to have a relationship (and it’s actually a good one!) with my father. I’ve learned how to be, utterly and completely self-standing, at least within the confines of my relationship with him, and it has set me free in a way I’m struggling to put into words. I can’t explain it other than to say, when he says something shitty, I don’t give a fuck, I just love him because he’s my dad and he’s flawed and he has a good heart but doesn’t always know how to be good. It makes me happy that I can do that for him, too. It makes me feel good to give him a safe space where he can act out and just be him and know I’m not going anywhere. It wasn’t easy to get to this point, but having no more fucks in my fuck reservoir means I don’t internalize the inflammatory shit he says that used to rile me up and lead to us not speaking for months. I can honestly say it doesn’t have an adverse effect on me either. I don’t harbor insecurities about it, or take any of the bad to heart, but I can sift out the good and hold onto those memories and moments. Feels good, man.
I think what it boils down to is that you’ve gotta suffer a little bit, pay your debts, learn how to be, build your foundation, and then it’s smooth sailing from there.