Thilde and I were ready for vacation in early October until her car got hit in Syracuse. After months of hell fighting with the insurance company, we finally got a settlement and got her RAV4 fixed and hit the road. By the time we were able to leave it was December so we decided to drive down to Florida since Thilde had never been there and we knew it would be warm. We ended up having one of my best trips yet and found lots of great spots to SUP, hike, bike and kite at. It was a trip to remember and gave me a new appreciation for our southern flat land state.
Love has taken me a lot of places in this world. You could add Denmark as another country that I’ve visited for love, and then afterwards fell in love with. So often in the US I feel that my life is so good and that I am so blessed that I find it hard to imagine that things could be even better. The two weeks I spent in Denmark with Thilde made me feel even better than that, which I didn’t really think was actually possible.
A year ago Thilde and I committed to each other in a beautiful ceremony in the middle of Cayuga Lake with 150 other kayakers and standup paddle boarders in attendance. It was an amazing ceremony which was attended by no less than 6 Danes who crossed the pond simply to support Thilde. They were great company and seemed to laugh and smile a lot more than your standard American. I was more than a little curious to find out if Denmark really was as great as people kept making it out to be. Free universal healthcare for all, 50% of the urban population bike commutes, you get paid $1000/mth to go to college and new mothers can get 3 years of paid vacation time to take care of their babies. It sounded like a fantastic fantasyland that was too good to be true. Although I was skeptical, after spending 2 weeks there I can confirm that it is a real place and the Danes really do live that way. No wonder they are consistently polled as the happiest people on the planet although they were recently surpassed by Costa Rica probably because they have unmolested rain-forests and Denmark doesn’t. Not liking to be 2nd in anything I’m sure the Danes will buckle down and redouble their happiness efforts to beat the Costa Ricans again.
When I first met Thilde Jensen she encouraged me to try TM to help with my obsession and depressive nature. We have been together for 2 years now and committed to each other last summer. Meditation has become a daily habit for both of us, one that I hope we will carry with us to the end of our days. This is not a sales pitch for TM, honestly I feel like it’s a total scam, I am promoting the medical benefits of any meditation not just a single ‘brand’. Although Thilde and I have settled quite comfortably into doing TM, there are a lot of different styles of meditation each with their benefits and drawbacks. This is a story of my personal path.
The TM style of meditation has been around since 1955 and seems to have changed very little throughout the years. The biggest change to the movement has been the price of the training. It has gone from being free to several thousand dollars for private instruction. So then the question becomes, why should I pay $2,500 for something that I can teach myself for free?
For the last 20 years I’ve been sober. Strangely enough I look back and I don’t even know how I got here. My teenage years were a blur of drugs, alcohol and almost constant partying. As my friends from high school stayed on track and got accepted to Ivy League schools I went on a downward spiral into a nihilistic existence. And I loved every minute of it.
I loved eating out of dumpsters and living in abandoned buildings. I loved getting chased by cops night after night. I loved being totally lit out of my gourd and doing the stupid possible things night after night. Whether is was doing donuts in the front yard of a fraternity in a Volvo with no doors or dumpster diving an easy chair from the Starvation Army and keeping it in the bed of a pickup and launching it into the air while driving at high speeds over the jump going down Buffalo St hill. I remember spending all my time exploring rooftops and abandoned buildings and doing whatever I liked. We took trips to NYC and got into riots with the cops when our car got stolen. It was pure insanity.
Many of my friends from that era died from overdoses, suicide or literally drinking themselves to death. One of my closest friends, Mike Spike, dropped dead at 25 in the County Jail. When they did the autopsy they said his arteries were 99% blocked. I never saw him eat or drink anything but alcohol.
Thilde and I decided last winter that we wanted to do something about her crappy wood-stove. Due to her chemical sensitivities we basically had to burn wood with the flue open so all the heat went right up the chimney. Because we didn’t have an outside air intake the air that whooshed up the chimney was usually the air right around the wood-stove that had heated up a little bit. The house was always freezing and we burned through a ton of wood.
I was asked by my good friend Dr Pamela Moss to submit my vision board that I created under her supervision to a transformational art show. Two long years ago myself and a dozen other people spread out a bunch of old magazines on a table and after a deep soulful meditation we looked through them and ripped out any pictures that called to us. We then spent another hour cutting out the pictures and gluing them on a posterboard. That ‘vision board’ has hung in my kitchen and I’ve looked at it every day for the the last two years. I mounted color changing LED lights around it and I setup a LED spotlight above it so it could have the brightest light in the room. This simple collection of pictures pasted together from magazines that people threw in the trash has completely transformed my life.
Then I saw you on the bed
You were gone, you were dead
All that was left was an empty shell
A pile of meat that would soon start to smell
I spent 5 months visiting my brother almost every day as he suffered from terminal stage-4 non-small cell lymphatic cancer that was caused by smoking. Every day I tried to understand how he saw the world and how he viewed what was happening to him through the veil of his Paranoid Schizophrenia. This story is my interpretation how he viewed the world. I am writing this as therapy for myself mostly, but also as a way of showing how terrifying life can be for people with severe mental illness.
They were calling him back again, moving backwards in time was always harder than moving forward. Near the end there was so much boredom, sitting around waiting for something, never sure what. There was less pain, the nurse would come every few hours and give him another dose of Oxycodone. Near the end he knew he was addicted, but he didn’t care. Normally it was not permissible to dabble in the addictions of men, but for his rank and pay grade no one would really notice. Besides he was so close to retirement anyway.
19 years old
the story be told
All I can recall
was the insanity of it all
I drove in a Volvo without any doors
with the Police Dept I was constantly at wars
We played this game called bumper tag
we’d hit our friend’s cars, they had no airbag
Then we’d drive out with a frenzied haste
and ignore all the rules of the road as we’re chased
We’d run red lights and stop signs all over town
until the other car would run us down
Then we’d get hit and have to sit still
to anyone watching we’d look mentally ill
then the chase would begin anew
I really don’t know how I ever got though
Living in abandon buildings was just a haze
Dumpster food and coffee, life felt like a maze
Everything hurt, pain was the norm
Dancing in moshpits became an art form
I stood in a room
There was so much gloom
surrounded by strangers
and unspoken dangers
All the men and the women in this room were lost
For all the folks here some line had been crossed
‘Behavioral ward’ was what it was called
If you ended up here, you would be appalled
For I directed myself to the ‘psych ward’
with my brother whom I completely adored
To celebrate his 52ed trip around the sun
As my heart swelled with cheer a sweet song begun