Exactly one year ago today, I woke up with a hangover, after attending a New Years Eve punk rock show at Zanzabar nightclub in Louisville. Drunk. Depressed. Angry, even hateful. A month later, I spent three weeks at the Central State Hospital psychiatric ward. I was taken there in handcuffs. The details about the behaviors that put me there are really embarrassing.
In 2017, I will keep a daily blog here.
The worst years of my life were 2008 and 2014. The late 80s and early 90s were pretty bad too. I wish I had learned about The Stoics and The Buddha sometime around 1985, but public schools in the Bible Belt glossed over that stuff. Maybe life would have been easier, but no amount of learning and life experience had prepared me for the following to happen in the span of about a year between 2014 & 2015:
- Sudden separation with the mother of my children. The result of her affair with a married coworker.
- Her and my children being moved almost immediately into his home.
- Less access to my children.
- Lawyer expenses.
- Loss of employment.
- Breakup of a fairly lucrative country band and the end (or maybe hiatus) of my music career in general, which my sense of self worth was based on in a very unhealthy way.
- Serious injury accident that prevented me from working for a while
- Mental breakdown
“If you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally another’s is your own, you will be hampered, you will mourn, you will be put to confusion, you will blame gods and men.” – Epictetus
How to Make God Laugh
My plans: This year, I will work through several books, primarily “365 Tao: Daily Meditations” by Deng Ming-Dao, but also several other Taoist texts, and “Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. I will also blog about my experiences during the year.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .” —EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.5.4–5
Overall, 2016 was a great year, despite the rough beginning. I set out to heal and recover from the several simultaneous life disasters and it turned out to be one of the better years of my life. During the year, I read many Buddhist texts that were helpful, established habits of attending group meditation sessions and hiking meetups. In November, I decided to plan some New Years resolutions (which I have rarely ever done) . I will work on small challenges and build on them as the year progresses.
Challenges for this week:
- Wake up at 5AM every morning.
“It is said that if one chooses to pray to a rock with enough devotion, even that rock will come alive.”
– Chapter 1, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao