What does it mean to be an advice columnist? Is the purpose of the role to acutely respond to people’s deeply personal questions or is it just a self-indulgent role simply designed to feed my own ego? These are questions I have tackled for my decades-long tenure at the Wheel, questions that have measured an existential weight on my bony shoulders. At the end of the day, I would probably have had more free time if I chose not to do this. I don’t want to be a journalist, and I certainly don’t think I should try my hand as a therapist. Every logical bone in my body tells me that goalless endeavors like this are simply not worth the time commitment. 

And yet, for decades uninterrupted, I have continued to write — an irrational urge that frustrates me as much as it defines me.

 

Dear Doolino,

I created a rift in the space-time continuum and I am trapped in a black hole.

I was once a writer quite like yourself. I was bogged down by imminent deadlines, spam emails and the general lack of sleep on weekdays. I thought it would be only natural to quit, so one day I decided to never respond to my editors’ messages again. 

Of course, in this day and age, you can never truly isolate yourself. My Messenger application kept pinging with notifications. They even tried to reach me on Tinder, which was a real shame because it was my first ever match. 

I couldn’t simply uninstall my social media apps, so instead I decided to construct a time machine using a TI-84 calculator, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Welcome to the Universe” and some minty chewing gum. My plan was to go back in time to the day I joined my newspaper and thoroughly convince myself that it was a bad idea. 

But I fudged the coordinates. Instead of typing in “1919,” I accidentally typed in “1919,0000000,” thinking the comma was a decimal place. In this time and age, the sun has long since exploded. I was immediately swept into the crushing gravity of the dark void we once called the sun. 

Spiritually broken, I could not muster the energy to shout for someone to help me. I lay on the cold vacuum, crying until I realized the tears would not save me. As a last resort, I gathered my fragments of willpower and reverse-engineered my calculator to act as a portal. With my limited resources, I could only create a rift big enough for my femur to fit through. I have written this message on said femur using my fingers as a pen and my bone marrow as ink. 

Doolino, this is not a question, but a request: save me. Make a rift (there are several wikiHow guides) and come rescue me from this sublime fate. I know the risks that this would entail, but I simply can’t let it end like this, alone in the vacuous void of space. 

This is a mission particularly pertinent to you. 

Sincerely,

An Advice Columnist Formerly Known as Doolino

 

Dear Doolino,

Those who run away from their passions and problems are always fated to be crushed by the abyss. Look at you, so scared of negotiating better hours or peacefully parting from the newspaper that you would instead choose to revolutionize the field of theoretical physics with no more than a set of everyday household items.

The truth is, life in itself is a black hole — slowly suffocating us spiritually and corporeally. Our only way to combat such an existence is to face it head on. If it kills you to write and it kills you to leave, then seize your fate: write, Doolino! All we truly have at the end of the day are the absurd passions that fill up hours in the days as they slowly grow longer. 

If you could make a time machine, then surely I can as well with a little bit of Physics 141 and a lot of wikiHow. I will ask my younger sibling, Doolino Jr., to cover my column in the time it will take me to retrieve you. 

Perhaps I, too, will be crushed by the same black hole you have found yourself trapped in. But my identity is defined by my willingness to help those in need. So, should this be the last job of my life — I can die happy knowing that I stuck to my values. 

And maybe, on the infinitesimal chance that we make it out of there alive, we can return to our writing positions with a refreshed sense of purpose. We might not be breaking news or saving the world, but perhaps all that we truly need to live a happy life is just a modest, muted sense of satisfaction. 

Hang tight my friend, for I shall save you and in doing so, save myself.

For perhaps the last time,

Doolino

 

I guess you never really appreciate what you have until you don’t. It has been a fun ride and though I have faith that my sibling will follow suit more than adequately, parting with this role brings me great sorrow. Thank you to my 10 or so readers for your continued loyalty.