Thoughts on the Way Down, part one

no photo because I refuse to market my life

I suppose this story starts sometime around mid-July 2016. My then fiance, and I were pretty much done with the planning stages of our surprise wedding at Gusto Fest 5, and all the expected cancelations were long behind me. At this point in my history of booking/organizing shows, very little phases me. Couple that with my tightrope walk of zen/nihilism, and you've got a fairly unbothered individual. (Not to mention my penchant for self-medication... oops, I just did.) All we had left to do was pick up a few more items for the wedding, and fill out a little paperwork. I reassured her that we were going to pull this off, and it was going to be incredible. I knew with one hundred percent certainty that this would work, and started to relax a little on that basis.

Anyone who knows me personally, or perhaps even just through the podcast or my music if they pay close attention, knows what "relaxing" means to me. For the rest of you, I'll just say that I believe in living life to the fullest, "like I'm on 10" as Hank Williams III put it in one of the only country songs I seriously love. A song about that self-medication I referred to earlier. On one hand, I am a responsible adult who holds down a job, pays bills on time, and runs his own fledgling entertainment company. On the other hand, I'm sort of like the reincarnation of Hunter S. Thompson minus all the cocaine, and fame. I don't need help drinking even more alcohol, and I've always been more of a listener than talker, so I'll pass on the white lady, thanks. As for the fame, you can keep that too, I just want credit where it's due, and a life that's comfortable. Point being, I started celebrating Gusto Fest 5 about 2 weeks before it started.

The thing I realized recently is that I hadn't stopped celebrating yet. Instead of going down a VH1-esque downward spiral of hard drug abuse, hookers, and farm animals; I kept working on music, the podcast, and NOLYB as a whole. Meanwhile, in the outside world, everything seems completely out-of-control. I realize the media likes to whip people into a frenzy over anything they can, and they do lie, as well as serve corporate interests, but I am only human. I saw the stories, and they ate at me. Every day, another human gunned down in the street for what appeared to be no legitimate reason other than a supposed trained professional "got scared", moved their finger, and left a family heartbroken forever. It seems like weeks went by where I felt like I was living out some morbid version of Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day", but unfortunately all the killing has been way too real. I despise the fact that I have had to tell friends "Yeah, I don't see those cops parked there anymore, you're safe." just for them to come over, and watch a movie. Not commit a crime, but to watch a movie, and talk.

Of course we're in an election year as well, but I won't get into this go-round of "I'll tell you whatever you want to hear, just elect me". I'll just say that it hasn't exactly done a lot to brighten my days. So, much like anyone, I would jump on social media to check out something funny. Whether it's one of my friends displaying their acerbic wit, or just some goofy video, I searched for relief, but mostly found other people's problems. I also found a lot of questions, and not just the ones that filled my various inboxes when I looked at my phone every morning. Not everything was NOLYB-related, or even related to my life at all for that matter, but it all added to the weight. Along the way some more important, introspective questions came up too. I thought about who I am; what I want out of life; and how my wife, and I should build our new lives together. I thought about some of the other relationships I've been asked for advice about, or just heard about because a friend needed to vent. At times like that, I can only think about how lucky I am.

Which brings me to one of the most esoteric, and humorously worded questions I've pondered lately: "what is love?". (Don't even front like you're not singing that song in your head now.) People have asked me about married life, and I really don't know what to tell them. My wife, and I have been together almost a decade as of this writing, so it's safe to say we get along famously, just like always. I was telling people for well over a month, "I've been having the best day ever for the past few weeks", and meant every word of it. Let me elaborate on how truly lucky I am. My wife doesn't expect me to be around her 24/7; she doesnt' get mad when I go to a friend's house; she doesn't call or text every 20-30 minutes if I'm away, nor does she expect me to; she believes in my creative projects; I could go on, but what it amounts to is we respect, and trust each other. We've had tough times like any couple, but we've always talked about it like civilized adults. Love is clear communication, and respecting each other's space as much as it is compassion, kindness, and attraction.

That's why I stress talking about things so much, I truly feel it's the only way we're gonna make any further progress as humans. Far too many people are quick to react emotionally, and I'm just as guilty as anyone, but it's something we're gonna have to work on together. Active listening is a skill we should all level up. You may have heard people say things like "there's levels to this" or something similar. In that way, life is a lot like a RPG, and as GZA once said, "I'm trapped in a deadly video game with just one man". If you've played Skyrim, WoW, or GTA at any length, you know what I'm saying. We all go through hard times, whether mental, financial, emotional, or whatever the case may be; how many get better because of the hard times though? That is the key, I believe. To remain focused on your goals, and have determination to always get better. Granted, it's way easier said than done, but I try like hell regardless, that's just how I am. The downside to that mentality is that I tend to push myself too hard, and crash. Well, this time I crashed pretty hard.

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