Twenty-three and single; it isn’t as shocking on the eyes as it is on the ears or the mind. But dedicated to the current woes of friends and close acquaintances — all of whom range in age from 23 to 27 — we find that this thought is utterly paralyzing; that while we are numbing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, and quick sex, we aren’t paying attention to those three cookies or that next chapter of that book. I don’t mean to be a Buddha here (even though Buddha is me, am I right?), but people tend to assume that nothing that shares space with you, in your single life, in your single room, and in your single bed, actually matters. When in actuality: those 300 calories and 57 pages aren’t just keeping you company, they’re the stems of the universe in that very moment, teaching you an invaluable lesson. So pay attention.
Our current attention spans seem to be as spazzy as a flea on cocaine. Technology has made us so brilliantly intoxicated with information that now when we as humans want something existentially — say, a soul mate — we stomp our feet and burrow our brow when we don’t get it immediately. Thanks to Tinder, Grindr, and OKCupid, soul mating has become soul shopping, in which the scariest part is that we’ve all lost track of ourselves. Because let’s face it: we can’t even reach inside ourselves and identify our true feelings unless there’s an app for that. We can hardly even predict our own mood unless there’s an app for that. Don’t get me wrong: I am as addicted to editing my selfies as much as the next bored subway passenger, but there has got to be a moment where one of our iPhone 5 screens cracks and we scream in the realization that…
Three cookies to eat and the next chapter of a book to read: how stimulating. Your jaw will move up and down a few times, your eye muscles will strengthen as they peruse left to right over and over as your brain picks up knowledge that you didn’t even register in that moment. The tangible joy of these two activities — chewing and reading — aren’t really why the three cookies and a chapter of a book matter; their purpose isn’t to teach you how to use your body. No — the decorated bag of cookies and the book you bought at Strand that you’ll only acknowledge on a few desperate evenings was placed in front of you to show you that you can. You can choose to eat those cookies and read that chapter precisely because you are single. In fact, if you were not single — if you happened to currently be snuggling your nose into the greasy hairs of your beloved watching House of Cards or a movie in French to feel artistic — you wouldn’t even have the option to taste sweet chocolate chips or to pick up the goddamn book. At such a young age we’ve forgotten that we still have the ability to choose from all life has to offer before deciding to split every detail of our life down the middle.
You’ve had enough. 36 years old, with veins on your forehead larger than you can ever remember, and there you are at Home Depot wishing you were back in your bed eating cookies and trying to read that fucking book. Instead, you’re arguing over faucet shades in a chain store of DIY projects.
Fuck that faucet and fuck DIY projects. Pay attention to the tomato red cover of the book and the taupe brown crumbs of the cookie, as these two things matter more than ever in this moment. Your choice to chew is not going to be taken away by anyone, and this is invigorating. Stimulating. Revitalizing. The cookies should not only taste of sweet morsels of future cavities but also victory, because you know that, while reading your book and moving your jaw up and down, you are 100% satisfied in knowing that this is your chosen universe. In your single bed, in your single room. This is your world. Raw individuality on a Wednesday in March. Own it.