Right up to this point it was mostly war stories for me. Mostly, anyway. I've heard thousands of them. There was a point where they had a "scared-straight" value for me, but the appeal faded early on, but for the rare dip into the shitpool. Sometimes it's not what's being said so much as the way it's being said that resonates. Other than the odd soundbyte one war story is the same as the next, and so on. But this one rang my bell right here, and this is why I still listen:
"I remember a strange feeling, a sense of being in tune with the world. A feeling that this was what people were supposed to be doing in this life, surrounded by family, part of a community, just doing what they had to do, rather than being faced with a thousand meaningless choices."
And that's where Hansen's story crossed paths with mine, in that Venn diagram of identification. He was off on a family farm, working in the field all day and chopping wood every night after dinner. The "family" business aside, because it wasn't often that gave me any sense of belonging, I've found the greatest sense of purpose in a daily regimen of physical labor. Work until you're exhausted, eat, work more, and go to sleep. Real sleep. No such thing as insomnia. No such thing.
I always thought of the info-industrial world as a sort of penitentiary for humans who are still largely stuck in an agrarian stage of evolution. There is too much information. Too much to keep track of. Too much... bullshit. We went from the Industrial Age into the Information Age ostensibly, but what we were really building was an Age of Meaningless Consumerism. Want became synonymous with need...
Okay, a digression. Hansen goes on and talks about never feeling quite connected to the things that motivate other people, and never finding joy in acquisition... and the circles on my Venn diagram overlap further.
He talks about the drugs quieting his envy and jealousy... voices in his head. His rage... his dissatisfaction in himself for feeling less than for not pursuing what others were entirely satisfied with. He talks about feeling torn apart by opposing forces inside himself. He talks about needing to find a reason to put the work into getting clean and saving his own life.
And this is why I continue to listen to the stories, so I don't feel like such a fucking freak. There are other people like me out there.