The Great Whatever

by Noise Pollution

In John Green’s Looking for Alaska, the main character makes the decision to change schools out of the pursuit of a “Great Perhaps”, inspired by the last words of poet Francois Rabelais. I like to think that at one point in my life, I was searching for that too.

Nowadays, it feels much more like a search for a “Great Whatever”. I just want to find something. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just has to matter.

There are times when I think that this Great Whatever is a girl. That thought usually lasts until about an hour after the girl in particular isn’t around me anymore, and the effect she has on me has worn off. Because it does wear off now.

Quick aside: that fucking sucks. When I was younger, having feelings for someone meant having feelings for them all of the time. I don’t know if that means that I don’t actually feel anything towards this person, or if I’m just emotionally crippled at the moment, or if losing the constant companionship of heartache is just a part of growing up. It sucks no matter what. Anyways.

Those times when she is my Great Whatever don’t feel real as soon as she’s gone. That’s how I know that’s not it. That’s definitely not it.

There are other times when I think that living this life of nothing is my Great Whatever. That somehow, I’ve already found it, and all it is is working a dead-end (but not terrible) job and spending every other waking moment playing video games until I’m incapable of regular human interaction without a screen acting as a barrier between me and real, physical human contact. But I know that’s not it. I just tell myself that it is so that I can finally have an excuse to give up.

The idealist in me thinks that my Great Whatever is hanging out on a stage, waiting for me to perform some song before filling me with a sense of accomplishment and purpose that I’ve needed for so long. And said idealist believes that because it remembers what it was like being on stage. It’s like being on another planet. There’s not a single experience on Earth that even remotely resembles performing music on a stage. It’s just… It’s such a singular experience. God, I hope that word actually describes the thing I’m attempting to describe.

I’ve played on a stage three times in my life. The first was for a talent show, and I got my first unbearable little taste of it. You see, I’m a scared little shit, especially about anything involving other people. Performing for people is one of my greatest fears. The thing is, once you step out on stage, there’s no going back. It’s like a roller coaster. Once it starts, no ones going to fucking stop it just because you’re scared. You just have to be scared. And I was. I was so goddamn scared. And I started playing, and the fear turned into adrenaline which turned into confidence which quickly shattered and became more fear, but I fucking played, man. And I didn’t stop until the song was over.

And that’s where I think my Great Whatever is. Hopefully I’ll be there again someday.