smile. chat. succeed. flirt. take control. never feel lonely. have inside jokes. create a community. work hard. play hard. have a child. contribute to capitalism. love. lust. stand your ground. understand pop culture. know your neighbors. get a mortgage. pay off loans. don't burden yourself more than necessary. take your drugs - prescription; OTC; illegal. watch the news from a large media corporation. make a pop-tart. have sex - casual; romantic. take an online class to further your career. vote. retire. never walk or drive with the music off. check your email. elevator music.

it wasn't a tough class. it was all laid out. textbook. diagrams. color-coded. vocabulary:
(happiness, fulfillment, avoidance, acceptable feelings, life)
most passed easily.
the test is a long one, but you just have to follow the rules. study a bit. it's pretty common sense really. it's a matter of avoiding the quiet. it's a matter of following the guidelines. it's a matter of accepting. it's a matter of numbness. what's the matter?

some had a bit of trouble. they couldn't turn off the little voices. no matter how loud the music was or how big the party. the gnawing. the emptiness. they blamed themselves. surely they were doing it wrong. buy bigger speakers. gather more acquaintances. prozac. marijuana. surround. surrounding. drink more than feels right. never sleep alone. does it still hurt darling?

and others.
oh the others- could never leave the idea of meaning. divinity. eternity. it was distracting and most people didn't like it. they stopped receiving invitations into the numb joy. but it was alright they never felt right there anyway. pretending only ended in self loathing. maybe tears. always emptiness. how can you be so lonely in a crowded room? everyone wanted to know -how?- but their -why?- was only answered in silence. eventually the crowd could laugh at their expense. why? why what? how to make money isn't the same as why to make it. how to live isn't the same as why to live.

tell me what's real and I'll learn to be happy
tell me what's real and I'll learn to be happy
tell me what's real and I'll learn to be happy

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