An Archaic Way of Thinking, So Monstrous and Absurd.

If I publish an entry that is blatantly political, I know that a vast majority of my few regular readers will just skip over the post. This entry is going to deal with some issues that are in the news and are linked to politics. I’m going to do my best to stay away from directly referencing political aspects of it, while attempting to make sense of things that, to me, don’t make sense. I’m also going to try to explain how I got to the point that I’m at with my own beliefs.

I’m a middle-aged white male. That means that there’s a lot of things that I don’t need to worry about. I don’t need to be concerned with whether or not I have access to birth control (pills, abortion, etc). I don’t need to worry about not being paid equally because of who I am. I don’t need to worry about being profiled and harassed based on the color of my skin. I am someone that has White Privilege.

White Privilege does not mean that I don’t need to work hard to advance in life. And it doesn’t mean that non-whites get by with hand-outs. It just means that I have a head start, based on who I am. White Privilege doesn’t mean that I won’t get pulled over for speeding. It means that I’m more likely to not be harassed for doing it. But, this post is not about my White Privilege.

Throughout the 40+ years that I’ve been alive, I’ve been picked on, made fun of, insulted, harassed, and even beaten up. I deserved none of that, but often I thought that I must have deserved it. Sometimes I felt scared to go to school. I didn’t want to tell my parents or my teachers about what was happening to me because I was afraid of retaliation. I never acted out or really fought back, because I was always afraid of consequences.

How many times have we heard stories about a high school kid that shoots his classmates? How many times have we heard stories about a high school kid that dies by suicide? In many cases, both of those horrible actions are the result of someone being treated like I was in school.

Beaten down. Figuratively, literally, emotionally, mentally. How much can one person take before there’s a breaking point? Imagine yourself in my shoes in high school. It wasn’t pleasant for me.

I was one person. I was afraid. I felt that I was nothing. I didn’t know what to do. I had a few bad experiences with some teachers and counselors. They made me feel that I was at fault. I was told that I was lazy. I was told that I didn’t work hard enough. They failed to address what my real problems were. They didn’t do anything to solve or even help me get past those problems and they certainly never held anyone accountable for what was done to me, even if they witnessed it.

Now imagine that an entire community of people that go through the same thing. Imagine that community is treated like they don’t belong with “the rest of us.” Imagine that people in that community are constantly threatened and harassed by the people in charge. Imagine that people that are supposed to protect that community are seen as threats instead of help. Imagine that when something goes wrong for that community that nobody assists them, and instead they’re constantly told that they’re at fault and deserve what’s happened to them.

What I vaguely described in the paragraph above is how I see issues facing the Black Community in the United States. It’s also why I empathize with them. I’ve been the person that’s felt how they feel. Just so it’s clear, I am by no means trying to make the comparison of my personal struggles with Blacks in America. I would diminishing them if I did that. I’m just trying to say that I understand.

In the past few months, we’ve seen more and more stories about Black Americans being shot, beaten, and harassed by authority figures. We’ve seen others in positions of power not step up to help, and in many cases, criticize them for being upset about what’s happened to them, and how they’re handling it.

Like the scenarios that I described earlier about the high school kids that snap and do somethings drastic, that’s where the Black Community in America is now. They’re that beaten down person that has had enough and is lashing out.

When your pleas for help are constantly ignored, you lash out. When you’ve always been treated like you don’t matter, you may not know what to do. When you have no way to improve your situation because there isn’t a system in place to help you, what can do you do?

I already know how some people will react to this post. I know how some people may criticize me for making the comparison that I’ve made. I know how some people believe that one side of the political aisle has done more damage (or more to help) to blacks than the other. To be honest, none of that really matters right now. To me, the issue is simple. The issue that we can say that all people have the same chances and opportunities in the United States, but that’s not true. It’s never been true. White males have always had an advantage and have made the rules. Those rules don’t benefit everyone else as much as they benefit themselves.

I’m doing my best to not turn this into an us vs. them post. I don’t want to get into politics here, but I know that what I’m going to say in the next few sentences is going to spark a certain response from some.

There was a time that I wouldn’t say “Black Lives Matter.” I felt it was silly to say that people are equal and then separate anyone, so I wrote someone on one of my social media pages about how we should all say “All Lives Matter.” I saw who was agreeing with me, and who wasn’t. The “Black Lives Matter” people were people whose opinions that I usually agree with and I thought I was agreeing them in my reasoning, but it looks like I didn’t get it yet.

Without publicly stating it, I did change my views on that. But it wasn’t until the George Floyd story happened when I first started publicly stating “Black Lives Matter.” I even wrote a retraction of my original post from a few years earlier. I really have no concept of time in 2020, so I don’t know exactly when I came to the realizations that I did, based on the comparisons that I spoke of in this entry, but I’m glad that I did.

I am an advocate for Mental Health Awareness. My experiences in that area over the past few years, and from what I’ve learned about myself and others, really has made me much more empathetic. I don’t want anyone to feel as bad about themselves as I have at times.

This entry isn’t as cohesive as maybe it should be. To be honest, even though this is something that I’ve given a lot of thought to, I didn’t plan to write this today. I didn’t come up with an outline for it. I actually had another entry half written before I even started this.

In my entries, I’ve often said that we need to do better. And we really do. “We” means all of us. Society continues to leave people behind. WE have to stop that. The people that believe and proudly say “All Lives Matter” need to do more to make that true. Because until Black Lives Matter, not All Lives Do.

The Burden of a Time Lord is There’s Never Any Time.

As I’ve stated a few times in my late June entries, my birthday is in early July. Because of that, I really do see my calendar years as distinct halves. Yes, I know that it’s genuinely the half way point of a year, but I’m saying that I see a year as more of a complete half (if that makes sense) than someone that was born in (let’s say) March or September might.

Because of that split of a year and because of my birthday, I’ll usually look at the progress that I’ve made. Not just within the past 6 months, but in my entire life. This year, because of all that’s going on, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I really don’t know what to say. So, bear with me as I plow through this entry and attempt to make sense of things.

To my surprise, not only am I mentally and emotionally doing pretty well right now, I almost think I’m thriving. I’ve joked that as someone with social anxiety and because I’m basically an introvert, the lock-down and social distancing that has come about because of the pandemic is something that I’ve been training for my entire life.
But, on a serious note, my tendency to question why things are good has started to pop up. I almost feel bad that I’m doing so well for myself in a time that so many people in the world are suffering.

As I approach my 44th anniversary of my birth in a few days, I’ve made some observations about time. It’s always been evident to me that time seems to move quicker as you get older. But, six months into 2020, this year seems to be the longest 15 years that anyone has ever so quickly experienced in a 6 month period.
While I absolutely know that April and May happened this year, I barely remember them. They’re a complete blur. And that blur is not due to my newly found fascination with whisky or vodka. Time is just barely a concept right now.

I had plans to run more official 5k races than I had done in previous years. Last year’s results were some of the slowest ones that I’ve ever had and I wanted to do better in 2020, but shortly after I signed up for my first race, the pandemic hit and one by one the races started getting canceled.
In addition to my slower finishes last year, another reason that I wanted to run more races this year is that I had gained weight last year and at my annual physical in January, my doctor recommended that I lose a few pounds. By a few, I mean at least 20. I had started on that path, but when the races were canceled, I pretty much stopped training. I haven’t gone for a run of any kind since probably mid-April.

Speaking of things that I haven’t done for a while. I have not seen anyone in a face to face social setting since the end of March. In any other time, something like that could easily trigger a massive depressive episode for me, but I think I have enough perspective to know it’s for the best right now. Also, thanks to the wonders of social networks, I participate in regular online video chats with friends and I’m perfectly okay with that.

Something else that I often talk about in my annual-almost birthday post is my bank account. Well, it’s doing very well. I wish I could tell you that it’s doing well because I’m making so much more money than I was at this point one year ago, but I’m not. I’m literally making the exact same amount. However, with EVERYTHING canceled or postponed, there’s no places for me to go. I’ve put gas in my car a total of 3 times since March. That’s a lot different than two years ago when I was filling up twice per week only because of my commute to and from work.

I’ve found ways to manage time. The routines that I’ve come up with to fill the rest of my days when I’m not working not only help keep me sane, but to some degree, they help me (sort of) keep track of what day of the week that it is. Although, the way time has worked in 2020, I’m still often confused about all of that.

At various points last year, I lamented about not being able to find enough things to write about. I’m pretty much dealing with that again right here. How can I give you my standard progress report when I’ve done so little in the time period that I’m reviewing? I know that isn’t because of me, there’s things going on that are much bigger than me right now, and it is what it is. I don’t like using that expression, but it’s how things are now.

I don’t want to keep this entry going much longer because I’ve realized that, after two full drafts of this and a few edits, it’s painfully obvious to me that I really don’t have much more to say.

In just a few days, I’ll be 44 years old. At 43, I can still cling to the “early 40s” thing. That’ll be officially gone in a few days. I’ll officially be in my “mid 40s.” 44 years have gone by very quickly. And if the next 365 days are anything like this past year has been, I won’t know where at least 5 of the months went and I’ll have aged another 20 years by the time I write this entry next year.

These Weeds Have Grown Where the Sun Once Shown.

We’re currently living through one of the most important, most trying, and possibly the strangest time of (many of) our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic is literally impacting every single one of us in one way or another. I doubt that I’ll have anything really profound to say, but I’m going to write a bit about it anyway, to the best of my ability.

I honestly don’t know where to start. I’ve never seen anything like this and I hope to never see anything like again. I’ve never seen the majority of the world shut down like this, not even after September 11, 2001.

I’m not going to use this post to discuss any specific political views. I could easily go down that route, but I don’t want to do that just now. This is about where we are and we’re going from here.

The entire planet Earth is impacted by COVID-19. It isn’t just the United States. It’s not just China. It’s not just Italy. It’s the entire planet. We need to realize that and we all need to do our part to slow down the spread of this disease and eventually wipe it out. We, as human beings, not as Americans, or Chinese, or Italians, or Iranians, or Russians, or Spaniards, as human beings, need to come together to fix this. Yes, that we means we may have to isolate our selves from friends, family, and loved ones for a while. But, it’s for the greater good. I saw something online today that “You’re not trapped at home, you’re SAFE at home.” That’s very true.

As far as I know, I’m healthy. At the time that I’m writing this, I do not have COVID-19. At least, I don’t believe I do. I say that it way because it can sometimes linger for a few weeks before showing symptoms. However, if I did have it and I go out and have any type of contact with you, then you may have it. You may pass it on to your friends, you may pass it on to your children, you may pass it on to your parents, you may pass it on to an elderly person that may not survive. This needs to be taken seriously.

As businesses have been forced to shut down and people are being laid off from their job as a result of this, I feel for them. I’m considered an “essential” employee. I work for my town. And as tremendously grateful and appreciative as I am for my employment situation, I almost feel that calling what I do as “essential” is an insult to truly “essential” works such as first responders of any kind, anyone working in healthcare (nurses, doctors, etc), and even grocery employees. I work in an office. Yes, I’m helping to move along processes of every day life for people, but what I do isn’t nearly as important. I don’t feel I’m putting myself down by saying that, I just feel that I’m looking at it through a level of self-awareness and perspective.

There was a brief period of almost a full week when my office was closed due to a health concern for a co-worker. When I first realized that I was not going to be working for a few days, I thought about all of the things that I was going to do. I did almost none of them. I had no plan for those days. I had no structure. I had no routines. I’ve previously discussed how I’ve been called a “Creature of Habit” by some people. And they’re basically true. I do a lot of specific things on specific days. I’m now working half days, but that may soon change to working as much from home as possible, as we’re starting to get set up for that.

Even if I start working more from my house. I still need a plan. I need to map out what my days are going to look like. I had told some friends that I may dedicate an hour or two per day to listening to podcasts. I may spend up to an hour reading a book every day. I will definitely be doing at least one DDP Yoga workout per day. If the weather permits, I’ll go for a walk or a run. I don’t have access to gyms at the moment, so I need to figure out things to do for exercise.

The one thing I know that I can’t do is NOTHING. I’ve discussed nothing before. Feel free to go back and read about nothing if you want. My mental health has remained pretty good during the last few weeks. Yes, I’m experiencing various forms of anxiety, but it hasn’t become too much. I have not had any depressive episodes during this time. As I just said, I’m mostly mentally healthy. My concern is not about me, it’s really about the people that I care about. It’s also about what things are going to look like when this is over.

I truly hope that America, as a whole, realizes from this situation that the systems that we’ve had in place are not good. A health scare like this can financially ruin a person, family, and business. We need to look at ways to go about fixing the system to truly ensure that everybody has the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. As someone that has OFTEN worried about whether or not I could afford to put enough gas in my car to get to work the next day, I know what it’s like to worry about money. I’m beyond grateful that I’m not in that bind now. But, I easily could be again.

I have a few friends that are currently out of work due to this. They’re hairdressers, bartenders, waitresses, and book store employees. I’m more worried about them than I am about myself. I have a job. I’m being paid. They’re not being paid. And it’s possible that their jobs won’t be there when this is over. That is horrible. It’s frightening. These friends, out of no fault of their own, and out of no fault of their employers, may not have jobs to return to. I think that is definitely a sign that the system is broken.

I’ve joked that as someone with social anxieties and other various mental issues, the concept of “Social Distancing” isn’t difficult for me. But, it’s one thing to want to be isolated for a while, it’s another thing to truly need to be. There is nothing more that I would like to do than to go to a local bar with a friend for a beer (or two… let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be just two). But, that isn’t an option. Even if any local bars were still open, it’s not safe to go to them. And yes, I do know that there’s irony there since just recently I wrote about a time when I did go to a crowded bar and I absolutely wanted to be left alone.

Allow me to break the 4th wall for a moment and reveal a little secret about my blog entries. The titles of them are almost always taken from song titles or lyrics. I do that because the songs they’re taken from are related to what I’m writing about. I also do it because I’ve noticed that I get a few more hits on my blog sometimes when people search for those songs or lyrics. The song I used for this entry is “Weeds” from Life of Agony. The reason I chose that song specifically is because of the line that I used for this title and because of the very first line of the song. I won’t put that line here, I’ll ask that you look it up. At some point in the near future, I may have another entry that discusses why that particular line means so damn much to me. That entry may be in a few months. Yes, I’m trying to create more interest in my blog by saying that.

I could probably ramble on and on a lot more in this entry, but I know that if I do, you’ll probably stop reading, if you haven’t already. Really, all I can say is that I hope you’re all safe, happy, and healthy. I hope you remain that way. I hope that we’re all taken care of in whatever ways we need to be during and after this crisis. And when this is over, hopefully we’ll be able to get that beer together.

Hold On, Face to Face. Damaged by the Sad Disgrace. But, All I Need is a Simple Reminder.

I spent much of 2019 stating that I hadn’t had a major depressive issue in a while. We’re a few weeks in 2020, and while I still haven’t had one, I feel like I could be on the verge of one.

Last week, I discovered a slight financial issue that won’t necessarily majorly impact me, but it will set my plans for the year back a little bit. That isn’t really a big deal, but sometimes something as simple as that can be the incident that triggers an episode. Especially, when things just haven’t been great. And, they haven’t been.

I want to make it very clear to any person reading this that I’m not in any danger. I’m not near rock bottom. I’m not even near a figurative cliff, but I am in a slight slope on my own emotional roller coaster.

A few days ago was when I was probably feeling the lowest that I’ve felt in a very long time. I went out that night to see my friends’ band. They were playing at a local bar. For a good portion of the night, I sat by myself, and that was my own choice. I wasn’t being shunned by anyone. In fact, I had a good amount of friends there. And as a side note, considering how busy that bar was, sitting by myself could actually be considered an accomplishment, but I digress. One particular person there actually insisted that I join a group he was sitting with. I did that, sort of. I still sat off to the side, pretty much by myself. Again, it was my choice. It’s just where I was, because that’s where I needed to be.

While I was at the bar, I genuinely did have a good time. I talked to many of my friends. I had a few drinks. I enjoyed the music. But, it didn’t change my overall mood. And unless I had told you that I was not doing well mentally, you wouldn’t have known it. Apparently, I’m pretty good at going through the motions. And, sometimes going through the motions is good.

If I didn’t have those plans, there’s an excellent chance that I would have stayed at my house that night. I may have watched TV. But, depending on my how great my attention span was, it may have just been short YouTube videos. Is staying at my house by myself a better or worse choice than going out when I know that not much will change for me? I guess that’s a matter of your perspective.

One thing that I know very clearly about Mental Health issues is that my issues are MY issues. They’re not your issues. While you and I may be experiencing similar things, how they impact us is not the same. And how we deal with them isn’t the same either. The funk I’m in now is something that I need to go through. I don’t mean that in a “I need to suffer” way, although, I have felt that many times before. I just think that I need to go through this to let it run its course, just like I would with a common cold. There’s not much anyone can do for a cold, except let it happen.

It’s very possible that people reading this may not agree with what I said about me needing to just go through this, and I understand that. I am struggling with some things, but I am attempting to force myself to remain active and get through my days. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. I get through what I need to get through.

Very recently, a friend of mine reached out because she was really not in a good place. She said that was down on her luck and near her breaking point. I offered some supportive words and let her know that I was glad that she reached out. Her luck changed very shortly after that and things definitely turned around. Not long after that, she I went out for dinner and some drinks. I know she needed it, but I did too. I don’t do good things for other people to know that I do them. I do them because it’s the right thing to do. I felt good after that.

I have other people that are very important to me that are going through difficult times. They all deal with them differently. I cannot force them to be social. I cannot force them to reach out. I cannot force them to break out of their slumps. But, I can (and will) remind that I’m available for them. And, I do.

There are days when it’s more difficult to get out of bed and go through the motions than others. I’ve had a few difficult days with that recently. My alarms go off every morning and I hit the snooze buttons multiple times. But, eventually I do get out of bed and I’ll go to work (always on time). I’ll do what I have to do at work and then do whatever else that I have to do during the day. Whatever things I’m obligated to do, I get them done. I’m highly functional like that.

At some point, possibly in the near future, this minor episode will pass. I’ll be in a better mood. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe it’ll linger for a while. Maybe it’ll even get worse. I really don’t know how much personal control that I have over that. I just have to keep doing whatever it is that I need to keep doing. And some of what I need to keep doing is just getting through each day, waiting for something to change. It could be something really good, it could be something simple. It could just be a simple reminder.

Remember What’s Past Ways and What I’ve Become.

As 2019 is coming to an end, it’s time for me take a look back at the past year and ask myself the same question that I ask at the end of every year. “Am I better off than I was one year ago?” That’s not always an easy question for me to answer. There’s so many things that I factor in when thinking about that question. Last year, it was a simple “yes” for me. At the end of 2019, it’s even easier for me to say “yes.”

With the exception of a time in late January when I had to deal with the worst, longest lasting, most difficult back spasm that I’ve ever had, I had a really good 2019.

I stated last year (and a few times throughout the year) that my current job is good for me. I’m paid better than I’ve been before, my commute is basically non-existent, and I have good medical coverage. As a result of those factors, there’s not been a single time in 2019 that I was particularly worried about my bank account. There were times that my account was “lower than I wanted it to be.” But, in previous years, keeping it above $0 was my goal. The stress relief there cannot be properly put into words.

For a few reasons, I can say that my social life was better in 2019 than it had been for a very long time as well. First and foremost, I had no major problems in this category. I gained friends, strengthened friendships, and really enjoyed myself throughout the year. Not having to worry about if I can afford to go somewhere makes a big difference.

While I was hoping to participate in more 5k races than I did, I have no regrets about why I did not. I was able to compete in 5 races. And honestly, they were not my best finishes. In fact, one of them was truly my slowest to date. In that case, I was just done with a sinus/respiratory issue that slowed my down. I’m not making any excuses. I did the best that I could on those particular days. My best wasn’t as good as my best during other races. That’s all that means. No complaints whatsoever.

As I said, I didn’t do as many races I was would have liked to have done. One reason was that I had classes to take happened to coincide with the time some of the races were happening. Those courses were in Mental Health First Aid. After the completion of those courses, I am now certified in Mental Health First Aid. I won’t go into details about that here, other than to say that I’m very proud of it. I may write an entry somewhat soon about stuff related to this course and what I’ve done for others in the area of Mental Health Awareness.

Overall, my mental health was pretty damn good in 2019. There’s just hours to go in the year, which means there’s still plenty of time for this to change, but I went through all of 2019 without any major depressive episodes. I cannot remember the last time I was able to say that in any given year. Yeah, I had some days where I was a little down. Things bothered me throughout the year, but nothing was prolonged and nothing was serious. Not everything that I hoped would happen would happen, but nothing bad happened. I feel like this is a major accomplishment for me.

I went to a decent amount of concerts in 2019. Me going to shows is not a new thing, by any means. But, going to these shows without financial worries is new for me. I didn’t have to make deals with friends like I had in the past. I went to shows that I wanted to go to. I could afford them. I even traveled out of state a few times. I visited friends at their houses that I used to say I couldn’t afford to go to. In each of the last 4 months of the year, I spent a few nights in hotel rooms for events that I attended. I paid for those rooms. I could afford them. It’s a good feeling.

Just like in previous years, I failed to hit my goal of reading 12 books during the year. I also never came close to doing the Black Crow pose during my DDP Yoga sessions. Maybe that pose isn’t meant to be for me. I’m not upset about missing either of those goals. Too many good things happened during the year for me to be upset about them.

My New Year’s Resolution is always the same. It’s “I want to make it better.” I did that in 2019. I hope to keep that going in 2020. I’m very much aware that just because 2019 was good for/to me doesn’t mean that there aren’t changes that I have to make. I recently discussed that I’m not happy with my weight. I already have a plan in place to attempt to work on that. If I hit my goals there, I could possibly have better 5k results in 2020.

One of the biggest problems that I faced in 2019, as far as this blog goes, was that I was not really depressed and that made it difficult for me to have topics to write about. What a problem to have!

I hope that when I sit down to write next year’s version of this entry that I either have that same problem or that I come up with some stories to tell about my experiences. I’m going to take 2020 day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. If the year is half as good to me as 2019 was, I think I’ll be fine.

The Road to Happiness I Never Knew.

As I’ve said in recent entries, things have been going well for me. And as I’ve also said in some recent entries, that worries me.

Just a few weeks ago, I told someone that I had not had any major depression episodes in 2019. Instead of looking at that as an accomplishment, I actually see it as something being wrong. Yeah, I know that’s not a good thing.

I’m in a weird emotional place right now. I’ve in a much better social, mental, economical, and (possibly) emotional place than I’ve been in years. I’m happy with my finances. I’m happy with my job. I’m happy with my friends. I’m just not happy with myself.

So, what’s causing my unhappiness? Is it the (somewhat simple) fact that I’ve gained some weight over the past few months? I know the cause of the weight gain and (in theory) it’s simple to reverse. Is it more than my weight? Is it deeper? What’s the problem?

Of course, I know that none of my problems are necessarily simple problems. Or are they? Yeah, this is what keeps me up at night. Seriously. It does. I have trouble shutting my brain off at night and I keep thinking, and thinking, and over-thinking my issues. That causes me anxiety, fatigue, and an overall reluctance to do anything.

If my current weight is such an issue, I should just eat healthier, workout more, and take better care of myself, right? The thing is that I’m aware of all of that, but there’s a mental block that’s preventing me from going in that direction. I could easily do a workout each and every morning before I leave for work, except that I can’t. And THAT is causing me more stress.

The only stretching that I’ve consistently done in recent months is stretching the time that I get to lay in my bed and hit the snooze button on the various alarms that are needed to wake me from the sleep that I’ve barely had.

It’s possible that this entry will be the catalyst that I need to change my course and start re-focusing on my fitness. However, if I start to do it out of routine and not out of joy, will it seem like too much of a chore for me? Do you see why things are sometimes difficult for me? My mind goes all over the place very easily.

When I started this entry, I didn’t know that I was going to focus so much on my lack of physical activity. I knew that I was going to focus on my lack of self-happiness. But, as I’m writing this (over the course of a few days), I’ve realized that there’s a few things that make me unhappy about myself. And of those things, there’s a few that I don’t necessarily have total control over. And there’s also some that I have no control over (yet). So maybe, I should focus on what I do have control over and do my best to fix that. If my current weight is THE issue that I can fix, then that’s what I should work on.

My brain is sort of like a highway with many exits. There’s cloverleaf exits, jughandles, u-turns, and dead ends. Sometimes the problem with me accomplishing something is that my brain takes the wrong exit or just keeps going in a self-destructive way that stops me from getting to where I need to be. It’s not as simple as just taking the right exit. It’s a long road and the time I spend on that road varies often. But, maybe if I can get my brain to take a detour, I’ll somehow end up on the right road and get there. Of course, I’m not even sure where that destination is. And if I start to worry about that right now, we’ll be here for a LONG time.

In the Morning the Battle for Endurance has Been Lost.

In my last few entries, I’ve discussed how much better things have been for me recently. That is still true, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still problems. As good as things are, I still have strong feelings of emptiness, failure, and overall malaise. Yes, it’s possible to enjoy myself and still feel those things.

It bothers me that I can’t completely enjoy myself, even in the some of the best of times. I KNOW that I have a bigger social circle than I’ve ever had. I have closer connections to people that I used to have, yet there’s still a lack of something. That’s the emptiness that I feel. I don’t know how to fix that.

I am doing better than I’ve probably ever done in my life, yet I still feel failure. I sometimes wonder if this, more than any other aspect of my life, is due to how I was programmed as a child. Praise didn’t come my way as much as criticism did. My accomplishments were often ignored. I’ve often realized that if someone points out something that I did wrong, they’ll focus on that, and not that I fixed whatever thing was wrong.

The malaise that I mentioned is just an overall feeling. I have more free time, yet I feel like I don’t. I have time to get up early in the morning and do things, but I don’t do that. I hit the snooze button again and again until I have no free time in the morning. I don’t know why I have such problems with this.

My issues are not an easy fix. Maybe I would feel somewhat better if I just got out of bed in the morning and did something. Like many things I write about, this may not make sense to many of you, but something as simple as getting out of bed early to do something is very difficult for me. I don’t have an explanation for it. It’s just not easy. It’s not a laziness thing. It’s a mental thing.

The part about having so many friends and feeling empty doesn’t really make sense either. I try not to think about it too much. That’ll just cause anxiety and make me feel worse.

The failure part is a difficult one. As I’ve said, I know I’m doing better, but am I where I should be? Can I get to where that is? But, then again, but what standards are we judging that by? I don’t have those answers. I don’t even know if I want those answers.

Going day by day allows me to not worry about long term things. But, not worry about long term things may be cutting my sights short and not giving me anything to strive for. It’s a conundrum.

Some people may think the problems that I’m describing here are simple fixes. Some people may think they’re not. I know I like when I get things done. It’s just difficult to start doing things. That mental block that is very difficult to get past. Being aware of it is good, yet bad at the same time. The fact that I see this in other people makes me more aware of my own issues and how I KNOW I would feel better if I just did what I thought could improve my situation, but as I said, doing it is sometimes inexplicably difficult for me.

I’ve said before that I was brought up in a world of “can’t” and “don’t.” Meaning I was always told what I can’t do, and often told “don’t do (whatever).” It really has made me almost sure that I can’t and shouldn’t do things. I know that world has to change, but I have to figure out how to change it.

But, as I said just a little while ago. I take everything day by day. And despite what it may seem like in this entry, even with the feelings I’ve described, I’m in a good place right now. I want that to continue. I’m afraid of what how I would feel if I wasn’t where I am now. And maybe that’s exactly why I need to take things day by day.

I Walk in the Darkness and Neon Lights.

I’m generally a miserable, cynical, pessimist. I can’t help it. It’s what I’ve become. It’s how I’ve been programmed to be. I’m not saying any of that for sympathy. I’m saying it because I think, in a way, it’s helped me appreciate certain things.

On more than one occasion, I’ve written about how I always expect good things to end. I don’t enjoy happiness as much as I should because I don’t expect it to last.

Another thing I’ve said a few times and have written entries specific to this is how much music has helped me through so many bad times.

Everything I’ve written in this entry so far is tied together by experiences I’ve recently had.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a few concerts over the last few weeks. The bands I saw were bands that I had seen MULTIPLE times before. Their shows were great. I have nothing bad to say about them. But, the music and the bands were almost secondary to the overall experiences that I had during those times. It was really about the people, friendships, and relationships that I’ve developed because of the music.

This is another difficult entry for me to write. I’m so much more creative when I’m miserable. I’m so far removed from being miserable right now that I almost don’t know what to write about.

Anyway…

Getting back to what I said at the beginning of this entry, I really do appreciate everything that I was able to do over the past few weeks. A few years ago, there is almost no way I would be able to afford all that I did. Heck, I may not have been able to afford it just one year ago, but so much has changed since then.

I live really close to New York City, but it is EXPENSIVE to drive there. Something as simple as being able to afford to go to concerts in NYC two nights in a row is something that I very much appreciate being able to. I’ve been so much worse off financially in my past that I am very much aware of how good it is that I can do that.

Perspective is a good thing to have. I’ve been THOUSANDS of dollars in debt. I’ve been miserably depressed. I’ve worked at jobs that I could barely afford to keep working at. None of those situations apply to me now. My life is so much better than it’s been. I’m very much aware of that. Yes, I do expect the ride to come to an end, but I’m actually enjoying it too much to worry about that right now.

I know things could be A LOT better in my life. But, I also remember how bad they’ve been. I do not lose sight of that. I cannot lose site of that. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me sane, which is actually quite a task.

I’m genuinely struggling to find something bad to say. I’m so conditioned to be miserable and cynical that this current version of myself is confusing. I’m not saying that I don’t want it to last, and as much as I think it’s not going to last, I’m going to do whatever I can to make it last.

This is how a lot of my recent entries have gone. I don’t know what to say in them. I haven’t been unpacking much baggage. It’s ironic that I’m almost bothered by the fact that I don’t have much to complain about. It’s like I’m hoping for something traumatic just so I can write a really good entry. And as much as I’m tempted to say something snarky like “with any luck, that’ll happen some time soon,” I’m actually glad that I don’t have much to say.

Between Striking Out and Striking Rich, Just a Risk. One I’ll Take and Take Again…

What a difference a year makes.

My late June blog entry is always about my upcoming birthday and what that means to me. Last year’s entry was a bit darker than others that I’ve written. And after just reading it again to get a feel of what I was thinking at that time, I noticed that I had I said that I had originally written a darker draft of it. I almost wish I had saved that draft just to see how bad it was.

One year ago I felt that I had nothing going on. I was at a dead end job that I could barely afford to work at. My social life was not what I wanted it to be. My financial situation was horrible. I just wasn’t in a good place.

But, as I wrote in the follow up entry, a lot changed very quickly.

I’m in such a better place than I was last year at this time. I have a much better job than last year. The travel time is significantly less (I can walk there), I’m paid better than I was, and I have affordable health coverage.

My social life is better than it was a year ago at this time, but not exactly where I had hoped it would be. By no means is it bad. I haven’t felt lonely in a very long time. I’ve actually felt like I belong in the situations that I’ve been in. Not feeling like an outcast is a massive improvement.

Over the past year, my circle of friends has grown. I’ve had a few people return, only to disappear again. I’ve met some wonderful new people and I’ve reconnected with a few that I honestly thought I might never talk to again.

I’ve recently had a series of things go wrong, that a year ago, would have been financially crippling for me. But when they happened, I was able to take care of them. Now, instead of those things causing me to worry about if I’m going to be able to afford food or if I can afford the gas for my car just to get me to work, I’m just upset that my bank account is lower than I want it to be. I cannot stress enough how much better that makes me feel.
Money may not solve all of life’s problems, but having more of it than you did before certainly does alleviate some burdens.

This entry, like a few that I’ve written recently is difficult for me. Not because I have a hard time discussing my issues, but because I’m not in a bad place right now. Misery is so much easier to be creative about.

I don’t want to say that I’m “happy,” but I’m definitely not “not happy.” I’m not sad, nor am I complacent. I know that I’m in a better position in life than I’ve been in a long time, if not ever. But, I’m also VERY much aware of how bad things have been for me. I don’t want to ever to forget how bad things were. I NEED that perspective.

There’s still a lot that I can improve about my life. There’s a lot that I can change and a lot that I can’t. Unfortunately, the stuff that I can’t change actually does frustrate me quite a bit. I keep hoping for different outcomes there, but I don’t know if I’ll ever see one. Yes, I’m aware of the definition of insanity. I know it well.

The things that I can change are sometimes difficult for me to achieve. My depression and my programming is hard to overcome at times. I get more stressed about things I haven’t done than needing to do them. I don’t know if that makes sense. Part of the problem is how regimented my days have become. Doing extra things seems like a break from a pattern. I know things need to get done, but if they’re done at certain times, they’re interfering with other things. I think this particular topic should be saved for another entry and I should try to go into detail on it.

Last year I said “I do know that I’m tired of starting over. I feel like I’m constantly starting over. I’m just not going anywhere. There’s beginnings and endings. The middle part seems very stagnant.” Ironically, I basically did start over not long after that. It was good for me too. I don’t think I’m going nowhere now. I THINK I’m moving forward, just not at a very fast pace.

In just a few days, I’ll turn 43 years old. Am I where someone my age “should be?” Probably not. But, I am where I am, and that’s not where I was. Where I was wasn’t good. Where I am is not great. But, where I am is a lot better than where I was, and that’s a good thing.

In the Still Eclipse, Every Light is a Heartbeat.

I end every year with a blog entry where I ask the question “Am I better off than I was one year ago?” It’s not always an easy answer for me. There’s so many variables in it and it’s often difficult for me to say for sure one or the other. This year is very easy. I am absolutely better off than I was at the end of 2017.

As I’ve stated in a previous entry, I started a new job in September. That job may end up being one of the best things to ever happen to me. I make more money than I did before, the commute is barely a thing, and I enjoy the job. I really can’t ask for anything more there.

The job and the pay have made my financial issues a bit less worrisome. The stress relief there is almost immeasurable. By no means I am financially set for life or even close to that, but I’m doing A LOT better there now. I’m actually spending more now, because I can. Over the past few months, I’ve had to replace two household appliances. Buying them wasn’t a concern. I could afford them. I didn’t have to worry about if buying them would prevent me from being able to afford enough gas to get to work before my next paycheck would arrive. Again, I really can’t describe how much of an incredible feeling it is to not have to worry about that right now.

My social life is basically where it was at this point last year. Throughout the course of 2018 I went from optimistic to disappointed to very happy to very disappointed and back to optimistic. I don’t have any regrets about the choices or pursuits that I made in 2018. The various disappointments came from issues that were basically out of my control. That doesn’t mean I’m deflecting blame or responsibility, it really means that there was nothing I could do to change the outcomes, because of things that were set into motion long ago. I would like to go through 2019 without the disappointment. But, we’ll see how that goes.

Last year I lamented about how I only ran in 3 5k races. Throughout 2017 I kept saying that I “wasn’t ready” or whatever excuse/reason I had for not doing more. I did 8 races in 2018. I’ve done a total of 31 since I started and 3 of the first few that I did this year are in the bottom 5 of my slowest ever. But, the last one I did was .4 seconds away from being a top 10. So, I ended my year a lot better than I began it. As for my slower ones, I am a little bit bothered by the results, but knowing how completely exhausted I was after each one, I know that I could not have possibly put any more effort in during those races. I literally exerted every bit of energy I had. It’s not possible for me to sign up for the races yet, but I already know the dates of a few races that I want to do in 2019 and I have somewhat of a plan in place to get myself ready for them.

Again, I didn’t come close to reading as many books as I hoped during the year. I think my new job will allow me to have more time to read. No, I don’t mean I’ll be reading books while I should be working. I mean that I have more free time than I did before with this job and I’m also a lot less stressed. Even if I only read a little bit on weekends, I’m so much more relaxed that I’m able to get a few chapters in during a sitting.

Just like every single year since I started doing the program, I still haven’t been able to perform a Black Crow pose in DDP Yoga. One day I will achieve that.

One of the biggest complaints I have about the last few months since I’ve started my new job is that I haven’t been able to listed to the various podcasts that I enjoy so much. I’m not in my car nearly as much as I used to be, and that really cut down my podcast listening time. If that’s one of my biggest complaints, I’m obviously doing a lot better than I have been.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring me. I have some ideas for things right now. I have some plans to fix a few things in my house that haven’t been looked at or thought about in years. I want to live in an environment that is as stress free as possible I know that being completely stress free at home is not possible, but if I can make a few changes here and there, it’ll alleviate some of the stresses I currently deal with.

My New Year’s Resolution is always the same. It’s “I want to make it better.” I think I did that this year. Despite some really dark and depressing days for me in 2018, I’m leaving the year better off than I started it. I’m really not able to look at 2018 and say it was particularly bad for me. There were enough highlights. I’m hoping to be able to say the same thing about 2019 when it’s over.