“They feel uncomfortable listening to sad music because they feel drawn to it…’is that going to make me more sad?’…and I say, ‘You’re already sad. The reason you’re drawn to the music is because that’s validating how you feel.’ ”

-Tim Ringgold

“13 Reasons Why”

Fiction. Based on a True Conversation with a Bank Philanthropist.

by Mingjie Zhai

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

You wake up and your right hand aches. Your joints are burning and you tell yourself that you need to just start eating right and taking your gym time seriously. Stop half-assing your body, your mind, and your organization.

You realize this morning that you’ve been avoiding basic responsibilities, like walking your dog. She’s in pain and patient every morning when you’re too tired to take her out.

13 Reasons Why

So you muster up some sort of disagreement with your body, who now blames you for the three hours of sleep you had because you stayed up watching 13 Reasons Why till the wee hours in the morning.

SPOILER ALERT WARNING: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

It was about a girl named Hannah, a deep thinker, a beautiful girl, a true artist, who had 13 reasons why she killed herself. She created 13 tapes for 13 people who had shaped her decision to leave and had a friend deliver these tapes to everyone in a certain order.

The jock, who took a picture of her and allowed his buddy to circulate it across the school to mark her as a sex object, someone to not be taken seriously.

The goody two shoe student council girl, who exacerbated the rumors to protect her interaction and sexual feelings with Hannah.

The most popular basketball jock, who grew up privileged and takes advantage of girls when they are most vulnerable (drunk at a party or alone at his house), and sexually takes whatever he wants because he thinks he’s so valuable that the girls are lucky to have him.

The publisher, who inspired her to express herself, and then takes her art, publishes it and the school responds with ridicule, though most of them, at some way, could feel that which she expresses.

The adult counselor, who can’t do anything for the student, despite listening to her case. Resigned, telling her to look the other way or perhaps just get over it.

The friend, who ditched Hannah because the friend started liking the boy they both were friends with.

The second jock, who came to their first Valentine’s date late, walked in with his jock friends so he could show off to his friends how easy Hannah is, and began touching her on their first date.

Clay, the protagonist is the boy next door who loves her. Though the most innocent and well-intentioned among them all, he is the most culpable. What is his crime? To love someone silently, from a distance, like an observer rather than a participating. He was too afraid to love her. He was too scared to embrace her pain. He couldn’t understand her trauma so he watched on the sidelines like a spectator rather actually showing up and being a pivotal part of her life.

The potter shapes the clay.

Who is the potter?

The Honor Board

“Nobody’s fault.”

“It just happens.”

Nobody takes responsibility.

The order is the honor board. The order of things.

The order of things that keeps creating more loneliness and despair.

More artists who see but can’t or don’t know how to express.

Except in fiction.

You sat across a man who worked for a big bank. He recently watched 13 Reasons Why as well. They were at the conference of speakers,  influencers’ dinner at the TiE-Con Conference in Silicon Valley. 

You point out that it’s ironic how the Honor Board makes such a big fuss over Hannah–flowers, cards, vigils, and anti-suicide posters, really to cover up their guilt since it is those very people who are causing it.

At this, the bank philanthropist turns away. His eyes shift. He picked up what you’re putting down.

At this, he tells you, “Good luck on your project,” which is elite speak for, “You’re not invited to the inner circle. You’re not controllable.”

Loneliness and Despair

It is usually the people you are most closest to that hurt you isn’t it? Isn’t that why most people now are lonely? According to Joe Rogan’s recent podcast about loneliness, it is the number one epidemic.

Interpersonal Neurobiology.

You might want to look into that since you are keynoting soon on how Augmented Reality may counterbalance that. May it? You wonder to yourself.

“It needs to be in person,” Petra tells you. She is a former UN social worker for over a decade, a global strategist, and advisor, and she tells you the truth. You know it’s the truth because truth has a way of resonating with your soul. It vibrates in a way that raises the thin hair on your chinny chin chin.

“Nobody will want to journal on their own. They need guidance. They need community. And it’s not going to come from a chat room or a social media platform. They need human to human interaction.”

She’s so right.

Fuck. You have to be with humans again.

You’ve been comfortable being alone.

Loneliness became your addiction.

The key to the success of your mission is to be with people.  Connect with them.

 

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