I spent several years not talking about certain things and it got me nowhere. I have decided to spend the rest of my life talking about as many things as I possibly can, and I feel really good about it.
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A good friend of mine just started a podcast. He and I worked together for a few years, and spent a lot of time together outside of work. Unforeseen and unfortunate life events occurred, and we broke off contact about three years ago. A few months ago we reconnected and have been talking regularly since. I went to hang out with him this weekend, I finally had a day off after working seventy-ish hours a week over the last couple months, and I told him I’d come over as soon as I was able. I was looking forward to catching up, taking some photos for the show, and just having a good time. I ended up recording an episode.
His show is new, and with that newness comes a certain quality, but it has potential. It’s kind of a no-brainer premise, just bring interesting people on and have them talk about their life, with no particular direction in mind, but I think they have a unique opportunity to reach quite a lot of people and bring them messages that they should hear. They’ve uploaded four episodes and I would recommend you listen to them all. This post isn’t going to just be marketing for my buddy’s podcast, but I do have to encourage you to go to Spotify and listen. Each episode is interesting and entertaining, educational, and motivational.
The episode I did last week was very much on the spot, he had a guest lined up who bailed at the last minute, and I just so happened to be hanging out, so instead of wasting time we recorded an episode. He asked me if I was willing to talk about certain events in my life, I said yes, and we hit record while we had a pretty natural conversation.
My buddy brought up a few topics that I have been reluctant to talk about. I understand what he wanted, but I was not convinced that I’d be able to give that to him. He wanted me to detail my story of going from a happily married father of five to a desperate, widowed single-father overnight. I don’t like to talk about this because I don’t see the value in it, but I am actually glad that we had that conversation in a public space. During the conversation we touched on several things that I had been putting off, and I felt the need to reflect on it all here. I wish there were a few points that he pushed a little harder in that conversation, but I think it is, at the very least, entertaining and you might get a kick out of listening. A word of warning, this podcast contains very strong language and potentially upsetting content, so don’t listen if you’re prone to reacting strongly to such things.
So, on to the reflection. The conversation started out with him calling on me to detail the story of my wife’s death. I didn’t do the greatest job, I have told the story in full twice before and those times, both in private and with no pressure, went much better in my opinion. But, It was apparently good enough, I have received some positive feedback, and that is why we all do this type of thing anyway, so, hurrah! I’ve yet to see the value in telling the story of this part of my life, I feel like one day, maybe, when I’m old and rich and ostensibly successful I’ll look back and think I did something worth talking about, but right now I just don’t get it. But my buddy really thought that it was worth taking the time to share this part of my life, so I went with it.
Next up in the conversation was him calling me out for abandoning our friendship. This is true, I abandoned pretty much every relationship I had, and that was really painful. When all this losing my wife and entire foundation shit went down, I fell apart. I started drinking heavily and acting in a very self-destructive manner. I overdosed a few times on drugs and alcohol, I used to blackout and wake up days later in strange places with strange injuries, I was a disgusting caricature of desperation and self-loathing. We didn’t go into too much detail here, but I did have an opportunity to express how I felt and why I kept crawling further into my dark little hole. I felt worthless. I felt afraid. I felt weak and incapable of contributing anything to anybody. Along with the simple pain of loss and the constant fear and anxiety of being a single parent and the worthlessness I felt, there was disgust at my own actions; nobody wants to be the fool and that’s exactly what I was, so I just kept pushing everybody away.
After that we touched on my having been suicidal. Again, I felt that we could have spent much more time on that topic, but I have heard back from a few people saying that they have taken what I said to heart, and that is more than I could ask for, so I thank Derek for allowing me to reach out.
After briefly running through the main points of my journey through hell, we went on to talk about the present and the future. He asked me what I am doing now for myself and what I intend to do with the rest of my life. This is where I feel the value lies in this conversation. Right now I am spending as much time and energy as I can muster reaching out to as many people as possible and having as many conversations as they are willing. I have been blogging for a while now, and have been active in several online communities, trying to have meaningful conversations. I have gotten into photography because, for me, it is not only therapeutic but a way to share my perspective on things and maybe inspire somebody, somewhere, to think. The point of everything I am doing is to start dialogue. That’s it. Nothing more. I am not pushing any ideology, I am not advocating for any subgroup, I am not standing firmly on any one position – and if any of you see me doing so I would appreciate the feedback, I want to be wrong. I do not want to go through the rest of my life unchallenged, spouting rhetoric and talking points and never changing, never learning or improving, never being corrected.
Some of the things we talked about in this episode were probably offensive. Some of the things we said were probably wrong. Some of the things I write are probably wrong and should be corrected, and that is what I am trying to do.
There are terrible things that happen every day. I’m not talking about the things that make it to the ultra glamorous national news channels, I’m talking about all the terrible things that go on right outside your window. All the tragedies that go unnoticed and un-commented-on in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Go outside and walk a bit and actually look, and I guarantee you’ll find somebody who could use your help. We live in an amazing age, the decentralized nature of our industries and commerce is exciting, but we live in a frightening age as well. People seem all too willing to forego humanity in an attempt to achieve a type of success that is ultimately unachievable. People are more concerned with external appearances than they are with quality and fidelity. People are desperately clinging to labels that serve only to further separate us when all we really need is to come together. I’m not saying that we’re doomed, but we are precariously close and if we continue in the same way then we’ll probably be doomed before too long.
I know that I’ll never be anything other than an annoying blogger, sitting behind my keyboard and punching up, but I think that I might be able to make an impact, small though it may be, by doing just that. I have been through quite a lot, and none of that matters to me more than what I might achieve in the future. People tend to focus only on what they have lost, what has been done to them, the wrongs and injustices and inequities, and forget to look at the bigger picture. So much more can be gained through reasoned discourse than through staunch defense of a position. Let go of your insecurities and engage in good faith cooperation with the people around you, rather than sit and stare and engage in recreational outrage.
Thank you for stopping by, folks! I appreciate your time and attention. I hope something of what I was trying to say came across. Do yourself a favor, go listen to Whiskey Tango Talks on Spotify or Libsyn, follow their YouTube channel, and stay tuned for more!
Go out and be the best version of you that you can possibly be!