Day Sixteen: Ordinary

This is the sixteenth consecutive day of blogging. I have not had an energy drink in 8 days. I’m on day 4 of eating a whole grain diet. At every break at work, I was tempted by sugary snacks in the vending machines. After my last break, I had an odd craving for Coca Cola, which is unusual because I don’t drink sodas often, aside from periodic Diet Coke binges. After work, I was craving a Rock Star energy drink. I opened a bottle of water and got through it for the whole drive home.

Album cover of “There, I Said It” by Tommy Womack, a huge inspiration for this project and blog. 

This evening, I watched a basic Qi Gong video on YouTube, from the BodyWisdomTV channel, part of the Qi Gong for Beginners playlist created by Andrea Marasteanu. This was an introduction to what they call the “eight-brocade” exercise, with the first two pieces of the brocade. These movements will need to be learned and implemented into my daily morning routine. Here’s the video, if you’d like to watch for yourself. The wind noise was distracting and his voice makes you a little sleepy, which I’ve come to expect from videos like this.

I received my first message of encouragement this past Saturday via Facebook.

I just wanted to let you know that I am finding your Tao of Buckshot enjoyable, thought provoking, and brave. You seem to be putting yourself out there in a real and vulnerable way. I don’t know a lot of people who do that. I don’t necessarily agree with ALL the philosophies you’ve embraced, but many of them have spoken to me. I love it when people are authentic. There is a lot of affections in this world. Most people work really hard to package life beautifully, but not always with total sincerity about vices, money problems, shitty diets, etc. Most people eat wonderfully, have no vices, debt, insecurities, etc.,–at least according to Facebook.

Why I am “Putting it All Out There”:

Sometime around 2008-ish, I became obsessed with an album by native Kentucky rock legend Tommy Womack called “There, I Said It!”- in my opinion, the best album he’s ever made- and follow ups he made were just “okay” in comparison. You might compare the album to something like Dylan’s divorce album called Blood on the Tracks. He got very personal with the lyric content. In one of the interviews, he mentioned that he had doubts- and almost hesitated to make it- because it was “all about me”. The first album where he wasn’t just writing songs he made up, but laying out all of his problems, such as his issues with drinking and drugs, hating his day job, feeling like he was too old to keep playing, stressed out as new parent, having financial problems, taking Xanax for his mental health issues, midlife crisis, scared to death about his future, and finally getting it into his head, out loud, in front of everyone: “I’m never gunna be a rock star. There. I said it.”

The funny thing was the album wasn’t just about him. It was about a lot of us.

Living with failure. 

It resonated with people going through the same kinds of things in their own lives, and was his best selling album ever, blowing up his fanbase, creating opportunities to tour Europe, and giving him the ability to go full-time pro musician.

What he thought was “whiny and self absorbed” actually helped peopleand helped himself too, with the process of creating the album. It was therapy that he shared with other people.

In that spirit, I’m channeling Tommy Womack.

Folks, I bottomed out hard and now I’m going to write all about it, because I don’t know what else to do about it.

It’s also self-experimentation.

What happened if I stopped doing everything the way I used to do it, and did the opposite, or changed things?

We’ll find out.

By the way, I just realized that exactly five years ago today, I was doing 4 days in jail on DUI charges. 

Okay, now about me and my money problems…

First off, I’ve never made a whole lot of money. There are many reasons for this. Here’s a list of them off the top of my head:

  • A very low sense of self-worth.
  • Long term untreated depression affected my ambition and job performance.
  • Focus on being a musician.
  • Lack of focus with everything else.
  • Taking big risks in life, like relocating to the other side of the country with just a few hundred dollars and starting over at minimum wage there.
  • Always being in a state of desperation. Taking whatever I could get for paying work.

Some years were better than others. When I did have money, I was really bad with my money. Shopping addiction. Dining out too much. Drinking too much, which was a big one!

I’ve had a couple of false starts with sitting down to make a budget over the years. I have this problem of sometimes not sticking with things I start because I move on to something else, or I’m simply too busy with other things or not managing my time well.

About four years ago, I started getting my shit together. It was a miracle!

I had a full time $12 an hour warehouse job with overtime opportunity and my country cover band was making pretty good money. I paid off all my debts, then worked on my credit rating, with the long term goal of getting us into a house eventually. I bumped my credit score up to 620. AVERAGE CREDIT! I was so proud.

My ex lost her drivers license in Arizona in 2009 (long story, most about driving without insurance and registration, getting popped several times by the police, and not showing up for her court dates).

It was going to cost her $6,000 to get the license back. After driving her around for four years, we managed to pay that with our tax returns. I kicked in $3,000 of my share for the cause.

I then fronted $5,000 to buy her a car (to her credit, she paid back with her tax return).

There we were. Double income. Two cars now!

My credit was good enough to get us into an apartment. We had to use my credit for the lease because her credit was so bad. Get this. My credit was good enough to turn the power on without a deposit!

So we get into the apartment and I’m on the hook and I’m personally responsible for everything, but so what? We are in this together!

Then she left me two weeks later for someone’s husband and took the kids with her.

Her reason for doing this:
 I worked so much that I didn’t give her enough attention and a guy she worked with did.

The lease was in my name.

Money went to family attorney. I lost all furniture and shared possessions, which had to be replaced.

That was only the beginning of the massive earthquake. Two weeks later, I lost my band, along with the $12,000 per year it brought in. Then I lost my job. Then I had no income other than from fill-in gigs with cover bands where I could get them. Then I had a lousy $10 an hour sweatshop job. Then I was injured without health insurance. I recovered and went back to work for a few weeks, before going into the psych ward for another month.

Meanwhile, I had been behind on paying everything and my finances and credit became much worse than when I first started fixing those things four years ago.

“The infector possesses an inward instability that radiates outward drawing disaster to all that they touch. Marie Gilbert A.K.A Lola Montez of Ireland was one such person. Lola found herself in the role of a courtesan (prostitute of the royal court). In today’s society Lola would be considered a gold-digger. She only sought out men with high social standing in the community that she could use for her own gain.Once she would have her hooks in these men, their slow demise began. One of her victims was King Ludwig of Bavaria, who felt compelled to help Lola yet once he was warned of the dangers of his affair with her, he could not seem to resist Lola’s aura and almost found his once peaceful country in a state of civil war. It was not until then that the king finally ordered Lola to leave but a month after she left, King Ludwig was forced to relinquish his throne.”
-Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power 

State of the Union Address:

There was a good deal of financial recovery done in 2016, although I still have to deal with paying off some of the medical bills. I estimate that I have about $3,500-$4,000 in debt to pay off. I will run my free credit report shortly to find out. Tomorrow I will go over my budget and create a plan for saving and paying off debts.

Deng Ming-Dao on Ordinary:

  • No one is able to describe the spiritual except by comparing it to ordinary things.
  • Spiritual attainment is like buying something with assembly instructions. You follow the steps, you gain it, and instructions become secondary.
  • If you regard Tao as an extraordinary thing, it remains outside yourself- a myth, a fantasy.
  • Once you know it, it is yours and a part of your ordinary life.

Today’s entry reminded by of the first verse of the Tao Te Ching:

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things

Thus, constantly free of desire
One observes its wonders
Constantly filled with desire
One observes its manifestations

These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders

The Daily Stoic: Never Do Anything Out of Habit

Today’s Stoic advice from Ryan Holiday:

Find out what you do out of rote memory or routine. Ask yourself: Is this really the best way to do it? Know why you do what you do- do it for the right reasons.

To repeat what I said earlier in this post:

What happened if I stopped doing everything the way I used to do it, and did the opposite, or changed things?

Tomorrow, I meet with Dave Ramsey for some financial tools.



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