CHICAGO—The longtime search for self conducted by area man Andrew Speth was called off this week, the 38-year-old said Monday.
"I always thought that if I kept searching and exploring, I'd discover who I truly was," said Speth from his Wrigleyville efficiency. "Well, I looked deep into the innermost recesses of my soul, I plumbed the depths of my subconscious, and you know what I found? An empty, windowless room the size of an aircraft hangar. From now on, if anybody needs me, I'll be sprawled out on this couch drinking black-cherry soda and watching Law & Order like everybody else."
"Fuck it," he added.
Speth said he began his search for himself in the late '70s, when in junior high he "realized that there was more to life than what [he] could see from [his] parents' Dundee, IL home."
The search initially showed great promise, with Speth's early discovery of his uncle's old Doors records and a copy of The Catcher In The Rye. Over the next two decades, however, the "leads just petered out." Although Speth searched in a wide variety of places—including the I Ching, a tantric-sex manual, and a course in chakrology—he uncovered nothing.
"My family and friends kept telling me to give up," Speth said. "But I couldn't believe that my true self was forever lost."
Speth was dogged in his pursuit, sacrificing his higher education, bank account, social status, and personal esteem. Despite the rising costs and mounting adversity, he vowed he would never give up his search—until now.
"I can't believe how many creative-writing courses I've taken, how many expensive sessions with every conceivable type of therapist," Speth said. "All that time—a whole life—wasted on a wild-goose chase."
Since calling off the search, Speth has canceled his yoga classes, turned in his organic co-op membership card, and withdrawn plans to go on a sweat-lodge retreat in Saskatchewan. On Tuesday afternoon, he loaded books by such diverse authors as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Meister Eckhart, and George Gurdjieff into a box labeled "free shit," and left it outside of his apartment beside a trash can.
"The only books I'll be reading from now on are ones that happen to catch my eye in the supermarket checkout line on the few occasions I leave my apartment to buy more Fig Newtons," Speth said.
Speth said he will no longer lament his coding job at Eagle Client Services, but will rather "embrace the fact that I have a job that makes enough money to pay for cable." Additionally, Speth has vowed to marry "the first woman who will have me, whether I love her or not."
"Oh, and if I never throw another goddamn clay pot in my life, it'll be too soon," he added.
Though hardened and haggard from his long search, Speth expressed relief that it was over. Asked if he had any advice for those who are continuing on their own searches, Speth had two words of advice: "Give up."
"Trust me—there's nothing out there for you to find," Speth said. "You're wasting your life. The sooner you realize you have no self to discover, the sooner you can get on with what's truly important: celebrity magazines, snack foods, and Internet porn."