I’m talking about these people who’ve ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed…They’ve done what’s expected of them. They want to do something different but it’s impossible now, there’s a mortgage, kids, whatever, they’re trapped. Dan’s like that…
But I don’t think he even realizes it…High functioning sleepwalkers, essentially.
People like him think work is supposed to be drudgery punctuated by very occasional moments of happiness, but when I say happiness, I mostly mean distraction.
Say you go into the break room…and a couple of people you like are there, say someone’s telling a funny story, you laugh a little, you feel included…you go back to your desk with an afterglow, but then by four of five o’clock the day’s just turned back into another day, and you go on like that, looking forward to five o’clock and then the weekend, and then your two to three weeks of paid vacation time, day in day out, and that’s what happens to your life.
That’s what passes for a life…That’s what passes for happiness for most people. Guys like Dan, they’re like sleepwalkers…and nothing ever jolts them awake.
– From Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel