When I was in college I spent my summers in a chocolate factory. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the largest chocolate factory in the world.
I was deeply insecure. Didn’t feel particularly smart, confident or strong. I certainly didn’t feel handy or good with my hands.
The work turned out to be physically exhausting. I was never more tired than when I was working there.
I went to the factory on my bike. I don’t remember how far it was. It wasn’t next door.
I always raced there.
They rotated you, so you didn’t always have the same job.
I will never forget I had to fill 550 five litre buckets a day with some sort of almond chocolate paste.
Or scoop 1,800 kg of cocao butter in a mill. And then put the cut up cocoa butter into turbines with hot air for 50 minutes and then I had to switch them to cold air.
Or I had to melt about 2,000 kg of chocolate that had been returned from shops and other factories because it was past its expiration date.
Physically I was in top form. I had a six pack. On top of working at the factory I worked out, I did hundreds of push ups every single day and I went running.
I was too isolated to do much with that great body the first summers. Eventually I got girlfriends and I had really great sex, I must say. You do enjoy sex more when you can be proud of your body.
They were simpler times. I didn’t know much about the contemporary world. I remember thinking that my generation had no big causes to fight for. Everything seemed to have been fixed.
We were just required to study hard and work hard and everything would be ok in the end.
Ok, I did think people were mostly back stabbing assholes, but I was so vibrant it didn’t stop me from getting to know people and having fun.
Both my parents were still alive. A lot of the time the future looked bright. On the streets girls smiled at me.
When the girls stopped smiled I didn’t realize it was because I had stopped smiling.
I can’t begin to describe how awful I felt starting in the fall of 2008. Things just got gradually worse and worse. It was like I was entirely incompatible with the world. From time to time I would have a complete breakdown for several hours. I always returned to a functioning state, but there were some very serious meltdowns caused by despair and having seemingly no control over anything in my life.
Those summers in that chocolate factory were the last summers I was ok. Almost happy, almost content.
I’m definitely not that person anymore. I have got a hell of a lot lazier, physically at least, not mentally.
At no point in life does it seem possible to have it all.
Now that I know how to talk to women I don’t have that body anymore.
Now that I know where life is interesting I don’t have my youth anymore to do it.
Now that I have the experience to build more interesting connections with people I don’t have the smile anymore to attract cheerful people into my life.
I do know now that it takes a shocking number of energy intensive processes to get to great quality chocolate.
And the same can be said about what it takes to produce even one happy day.