“On this path effort never goes to waste and there is no failure.”
Taylor and I sat down to record an episode of his podcast. Here sat a teacher and friend I feel like I’ve known a lifetime yet it’s only been 14 months.
So much of my youth I can’t remember. Adulthood is a blur. A lifetime of being pushed and pulled by unconscious forces and conforming to what others wanted me to be while hating myself for not being the stereotypical Southern man.
700 days ago I decided to stop drinking for 90 days. I didn’t have the strength yet to say it was for good.
630 days ago, sitting a breakfast in St. John, I open Taylor Hunt’s book, “A Way from Darkness,” and highlighted every word I identified with. Later that day I stood in samasthiti and entered a yoga challenge for the Trini Foundation, even though I thought, “I am not good enough at yoga to do this.”
I committed to the 14 day challenge and somehow was one of the winners. I won a workshop with Taylor in October. I convinced myself that I could not meet him and have started back drinking.
425 days ago I met Taylor Hunt for the first time. I attended his workshop at Balance Yoga Atlanta. It was my first workshop in the nearly 4 years I had been practicing Ashtanga yoga. I was not good enough at yoga to do a workshop.
Nearly 2 months later, or 370 days ago, I boarded a plane to Costa Rica. Taylor mentioned a week long retreat he was hosting. I had never been out of the country. No one else from Atlanta was going. No way is my practice good enough to go to a retreat. I made the decision to go.
A year later, or 7 days ago, I again landed in Costa Rica, a different man, closer to who I wanted to be and who i’ve always been. Even in paradise I still had to battle my demons. Am I yogi enough to be here? Will people like me as I am?
Last night I read a book while waiting for the sun to set on Playa Venado. In that moment, I learned that the physicist Erwin Schrodinger believed we were all interconnected and in his writing he referenced Spinoza, a philosopher Dr. Flores recommended I read.
In that moment it sure felt like Schrodinger was right, and I forgave myself a little bit more.
I’ve had a bit of existential mindset lately.
For most of my life I was motivated by insecurities that led to a need to be popular and wield power over others. I was obsessed with who I knew, what I had accomplished, and what people would do for me. My self-worth was determined by success, money, and women. It left me with a diseased mind and body.
After five years of therapy and a dedicated yoga practice, nearly two years of sobriety and with more strength to battle my demons, I am questioning how I want to spend my remaining years. It’s strange; although I am unequivocally in a much better place, I feel a bit directionless.
I often fantasize about helping solve some of our biggest problems but realize I may neither have the intellect or influence to make an impact.
Unless this is a simulation, prolonging the human race will require leaving the solar system when our sun dies or depending on a being we can’t yet comprehend appearing from a dimension we can’t yet see to save us. Who knows maybe these events are one and the same.
It seems to me we are simultaneously nothing and everything. Somewhere between now and the next 20 to 60 years I will cease to be. An unaccounted blip in the grand scheme of the human race.
The entire universe I know is perceived in my mind and that perception ends when I die. In that sense, my existence is everything relative to me.
So what shall I do?
Comfort others as we travel these 100 years together? Live selfishly, maximizing pleasure while trying to mitigate pain? Simply enjoy the ride? Study and keep what I think to myself?
Will Durant quoting Plato writes, “There is no telling where the light of talent or genius will break out. We must seek it impartially, everywhere in every rank and race.”
Maybe I can help someone and they will make an impact. How many really gifted humans are marred with drug addiction? How many geniuses will never be found in rural counties? We’re going to need everyone.
One thing is for sure, the only way is forward.
I don’t have any answers; just thinking out loud and keeping my commitment to share where I am on my journey.
And yes I think too much.
“I know what I’m asking but would you be willing to take on a project like me?”
“I am willing to help in any way I can, but this is not my project to take on. It is your project.
Writing it tore my heart. I’m open to talking to anyone who reaches out. I am willing to share my story with anyone that wants to hear it.
I’m happy to hear people questioning their behaviors — it is the first step, but sobriety is an internal project. No one else can take it on.
I know they didn’t mean it that way. They just needed help, but in matters of life and death honesty is required.
No one can save you, but you. I waited forever for someone to save me. People tried. People cared. But ultimately they were powerless.
I had to come to the conclusion, and then I had to do the work.
You can’t make your son or daughter stop doing drugs. You can’t make your brother or sister quit drinking.
You can support them. You can be a source of accountability. Maybe you provide the spark that makes them begin to question their behavior. You can be a warm beacon in sea of cold despair; showing them that someone still cares, but you can’t force them to change their behavior. As hard as you may try, you simply can’t.
The addict has to want something different for themselves. Then they have to do the work.
The underlying reasons driving addictions are as different as those suffering. Many people don’t know why they do the things they do, if they are even aware they are doing them. Many don’t care to ask or know. The reasons can span generations or spring from a single moment of trauma. The trauma can be something that happened to them or some care they never received.
I can only share what has worked for me.
- I continue to learn about myself and life through psychotherapy and studying philosophy.
- I build self-discipline and strength through my yoga practice.
- I share openly about my experiences and hope it can help someone.
I thought I’d die either from or because of my addictions. I thought I could not be saved.
I didn’t die. I am doing the work. I am very much alive. More alive than ever before.
I spent a part of this weekend organizing and compiling notes from random notebooks into my panda unicorn notebook a coworker gifted me. I really enjoyed my time spent doing it. Studying, learning and synthesizing information brings me a lot of joy. I know that now. However, when I was younger it brought me a lot of pain. I was ashamed to get all As and to have to walk up and down the aisle at honors day. I would hang my head so no one would see me.
Somewhere in my youth growing up in this small country town I began to hate being the nerdy kid. I was not cool. I would never get a girlfriend. I would never be like my older cousins. “Cooler” kids bullied me and picked fights with me for no reason other than me being me.
In many ways the identity I created over the last 2 decades had everything to do with not being this nerdy kid. I was willing to hurt myself, my mind and my body, and others just to not identify with a younger me.
Much of my recovery has been less about quitting substances and more about becoming ok with myself. What activities do I enjoy? What sort of person do I want to be?
I am a grown ass man, and I love rainbows and unicorns. I practice yoga, wear nice shoes and enjoy art. I’ve had people assume I was gay simply because of these characteristics. I was flattered.
If I am in a book store I browse by the Dungeons and Dragons books and reminisce about the parts of my youth I did enjoy. Sitting in a circle with my Harrison friends playing DnD or one of favorite birthday gifts, an index card with attributes for a powerful elven mage.
I enjoy video games. And no not FIFA or Madden. I’m either a cute little avatar named Auggie Bendoggie or a dwarven mage killing dragons.
Do I fit the mold of a 40 year old Southern software executive? Probably not. Do I care? No. I am stronger than I have ever been and getting stronger.
What I do care about is being authentic, aware and compassionate. I care about my friends, family and my communities, and if I adversely affect them in anyway I will evaluate and adjust as necessary.
I guess I just needed to get this out. Thank you.