Hustling – From the Streets to the Boardroom

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“Read this and maybe you will be someone one day”

Those were the words my dad spoke as he handed me a book on the Mafia.  I was 12 years old and very impressionable.  I would stay with my dad during the weekends.  He would rent gangster movies for me to watch while he was away at work.  He was obsessed with the lifestyle.

During my childhood my dad was involved in criminal activities that ranged  from selling drugs to running numbers.  He tried to hide it from me, but I knew.  He hung around with low level, wannabe mafia types.  They sat in diners all night long drinking coffee, breaking each others balls about women and how “rich” the next guy was.   The fact of the matter was none of them were rich.

They told stories about the past while laughing obnoxiously loud in public places, creating a scene.  The majority of what came out of their mouths were either lies or half-truths.  It was like watching a bad episode of the Sopranos 20 years before it was a show.

As a kid I loved it.  I couldn’t wait to be around his friends.  I thought they were the greatest.  I idolized them.  They had nice cars, which my father never had.  Some wore gaudy jewelry and always carried big wads of cash.

They were always excited to see me and treated me like royalty.  Unlike my father who usually put me down and made me feel less than.  When I grew up I wanted to be like them.  I had become obsessed with that lifestyle.

At 13 I started selling weed to my friends.  At first, I stole it from my brother and my friend’s dad until I found my own source to buy it.  I bagged it up in little dime bags and sold it to friends for $10 a piece.

Even back then I remember wanting to make sure I always gave people a great deal.  I packed the bags I sold nice and full, removing the stems from the buds.  When I bought weed from other people it was mainly stems and seeds.  I hated that and wanted to be different, even it meant I made less money.

As I got a littler older and progressed from selling weed to coke, my mentality on making a profit changed.  I cut my product, but tried to maintain a certain quality standard.  I found that if I added seven grams of cut to an ounce of quality coke and mixed it well people rarely complained.  To stretch my profits further I would make half grams weigh .4 instead of .5 and my grams weigh .8 instead of 1.  These two tricks net me an additional $500 in profit if I didn’t use too much of it myself. (more…)

Is Hindsight Really 20/20

“You were too busy sticking steak knives in your pee hole”

I had totally forgotten about some of the odd shit I did in college.   Until an old teammate decided to post that comment for the world to see on Facebook.  Maybe I suppressed those memories or maybe I really had forgotten them.  I used to do a lot of drugs and took several blows to the head, so it’s possible.

It’s amazing to think that I used to stick objects in my pee hole in front of numerous people.  Whats even more mind blowing is that there was always a girl who would witness my ridiculous actions and still say to herself, “Yeah, Im going to fuck that guy tonight.”

Looking back on my bizarre and almost unfathomable behaviors in the past I cringe.  Occasionally I laugh.  Knowing I shoved things in my pee hole is still pretty amusing to me today.  I wouldn’t want to do it again, but I still giggle a bit.

I’ve talked to so many people who say, “If I only could do it over things would be different.”  I’ve said that same statement more times than I can count.  But I’m not sure its necessarily true.  I don’t know that if give then chance I would do anything different.

I made my decisions based on the information and life skills I was equipped with at the time.  Many of my actions didn’t, and still don’t, feel like they were right.  Some have caused me a great deal of pain and suffering.   Other choices felt wrong at the time, but have paid off many times over.

Eight  years ago I left my career in Corporate America to be a full time drug dealer.  I  wonder what my life would look like had I chosen a different route.  Where would I be right now?  What type of career would I have?  Would I be more successful?

Then I realize it doesn’t matter.  The exercise of looking back and wondering is futile.   More than likely, even armed with the information I know now, I still would make the same decisions.

The reason being is I know where my life has gone and I’m happy with the majority of it.  If I made different choices I fear I wouldn’t have had the same life experiences, fallen in love, or lived in the manner I have for so many years.

Who knows were I would be or what my life would look like if I had made different choices.  Maybe my life would be better.  But maybe I wouldn’t have met the people I met or learned the lesson I’ve learned.

Life is about experiences and my life has been rich with them.  I treasure my experiences, even the really shitty ones.  For better or for worse they created the person I am today.

Love and embrace who you are today.  Don’t hate and regret your past.  Instead use it as a road map to build a better future.

 

Those Damn Tables

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I recently read about the importance of pattern recognition when assessing the past.  Breaking those patterns down and utilizing what I’ve learned to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.  Here’s how I applied those principles on a recent trip to Vegas.

I landed in Vegas at 8:30 PM on the Friday before Memorial Day.  I’m normally not the biggest fan of Vegas.  On my flight I spent time thinking about why I didn’t like Vegas.  What mistakes I have made there in the past and what I needed to avoid.

I had been complaining about “having” to go to Vegas for the past two weeks.  Then I realized how lame that sounded.  I should be thankful I was able to get away from Philly and do something different and possibly exciting.  Many others aren’t as fortunate.

I’ve had rather bad luck in Vegas.  Especially when it comes to gambling.  I’m an addict so anything that feeds that side of me I love/hate.  I lose myself in the bright lights and loud noises.  Delusions of grandeur dance in my head.  I dream about sitting down at a blackjack table and walking out with all my financial problems solved.  Normally the complete opposite occurs.

The best part about Vegas is that you can be whoever the hell you want to be out here.  No one knows you.  Everyone lies.  I listen to their stories, nod my head and smile.  It’s almost as if they are speaking in a foreign language.

I’m trying to figure out the story I will tell people as I write.  Most people in Vegas want to assume I’m an MMA fighter because I’m in shape and covered in tattoos.  Ten years ago I would have gone along with that story.  Today a real MMA fighter might overhear what I’m saying and call me out and embarrass me.  I have to be careful.

Maybe I want to be pilot or an explorer.  Who knows.  No one truly cares out there.  We are all working off the same time table.  We all just want fun stories to tell our friends about when we get home.

My first night I had an issue checking into my room.  I had about 3 hours to kill until I could check in so I ate and hit the tables for 30 minutes.  In those 30 minutes I lost $1000.

The next day I woke up early, hit the gym, went to the buffet and got ready for the pool party at Marquee.  My friend and I got there around 1:45.  Just the two of us.  I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out because he’s not always the most social guy and sometimes neither am I.

I made the judgment call to start out double-fisting drinks.  It paid off in spades.  Before long I was dancing around while Benny Benassi was spinning.  Girls were everywhere.  All seemed well with the world.

As the day party was winding down I had picked up a 22 year old girl.  She was ready to come back to my room when my friend said some things that made her uncomfortable.  She left and told me to call her later.  He claimed he was doing me a huge favor.  I said she was a hard 6, he said she was 3-4 at best.

We went back to the buffet, stuffed our faces, crashed a nice dinner two British girls were having, got drugs and went back to our room.  I was getting tired waiting to go out for the night.  To pass the time I took a pill of something called Sassafras (it’s similar to Molly).  I had never tried it before, but it was lovely to say the least.

A few girls I knew from California met us at XS that night.  Avici was spinning there. I was out of my head.  At one point I was pretty sure I was having a religious experience while we were dancing as confetti and smoke were flying everywhere.  I witnessed Chuck Lidell’s first Dj’ing appearance.  If I wasn’t having a hallucination, I realized it was time to go home.

My friends were pretty pissed at me because I didn’t  bring the California girls back with me.  But I was too fucked up. My dick wouldn’t have worked. Plus it’s wasn’t my fault they cant close the deal on their own.

IMG_7838I woke up the next morning feeling horrible.  After a freezing cold shower and popping another pill of Sassafras I was ready to roll.  We headed to Wet Republic and the shit show commenced.

A girl I always wanted to sleep with in college met me there.  We got hammered and hooked up.  I didn’t show up for my flight that night and had to book a new flight in the morning.

I had an amazing time in Vegas.  I met some great people and made amazing memories.  I did the exact opposite of almost every other trip to Vegas and It worked out for the best.  I stayed away from gambling other than the first night.  I had zero expectations of how my days would go or what I wanted to accomplish.  I removed the giant stick I normally have crammed so far up my ass.  When I met new people I was open to taking them at face value and not projecting my insecurities on them.  I enjoyed myself in the moment.

 

11 Things I Want to Say to My Ex

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I wrote this for myself a few months back.  I never planned on publishing it.  This post was originally titled “10 things I want to say to my ex.”  But I ended up with 11.  It’s kind of ironic because her and I used to play a game with the time, 11:11.  If one of us saw it on a clock we would text it to each other or yell it out before the other one could.

We haven’t spoken in several months.   It was always such bad timing for us.  Every time we were happy something came along and changed our relationship.

She reminds me of myself in so many ways when I was younger.  If we were able to speak there are a few things I would like to say to her.

  1. I’m sorry – I’m sorry about how I handled all the change in my life.  I’m sorry you had to see me at such a low point.  I’m sorry I didn’t get help for my depression when you begged me to.  I’m sorry I hurt you and your son.  I was a judgmental asshole who projected all his own baggage and inner bullshit I carry around onto you.  I forced you to become a person you were not.
  2. You’re a whore – As much as I don’t want to admit it there is still a part of me that is angry, resentful and hurt
  3. Stop blaming other people for your problems – You’re better than that.  You constantly blamed issues in your life on what has occurred in the past.  You’ve become a volunteer victim.  Breaking this cycle is incredibly hard.  Its taken me 35 years to start doing it.  You are a strong person underneath all the pain.  You are a survivor.  Take responsibility for your life and your actions.  It will allow you to have a better life ten fold.
  4. I hate who you have become – The last few months I was around you it was like spending time with a stranger.  There were occasions I saw the woman I fell in love with, but they were few and far between.  I look at pictures of you from this summer compared to when I last saw you and you’re not the same person.  This summer you looked fresh faced and full of life.  You had this light in your eyes.  Now that light has gone dark.
  5. I hope you find yourself – You told me every that with every guy you have dated you took on their personality and made their interests yours.  You get lost in whatever some else likes because you don’t have a sense of self.  I think that may be one of the reasons you and I found each other at the time.  I have such a dominant and overpowering personality that you clung onto me.  Even though you weren’t into my lifestyle you still gave it your all.  You need to find out what you love and what makes you truly happy.  I hope you spend some time by yourself and figure out who you are.  Jumping from one guy to the next, like you have, will never allow for that.  I did that with women and it set me back many years.
  6. Not everyone new is better –  You become infatuated with anyone who is new in your life.  All the new people who come into your life get all your mental and physical attention.  You talk about them constantly and put them on a pedestal.  It’s almost as if you wish you could have their lives just because they are different than yours.  You take some aspect of their life and you romanticize it to the point that these people can do no wrong.  The people in your life that have always been there for you, that have given you so much, you treat with little regard.  You seem to only care about them when they are useful to you.  Otherwise you treat them as a burden.
  7. Relationships, like life, take hard work – I think this is a concept we both struggled with. Hard work, in most aspects of my life, has been something I have shied away from.  I remember you telling me you thought relationships should just work.  I’m not saying they should be as difficult as ours, but they require a lot of effort to be great.  This same rule applies for most things in life.
  8. Be the amazing mother you once were – That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with you.  You were such an amazing mother.  Being a single parent has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world.  You have faced adversity and still gave so much love to your son.  The last couple months I was around you you were always hungover or too concerned with your phone and work while he was starving for your love and attention.
  9. You’re beautiful – You don’t need to do the things you do for attention.  You are a beautiful person.  If you are confident in that and respect yourself the right people will come into your life.
  10. Thank you – Thank you for the time we spent together; good and bad.  Thank you for allowing me to be in your sons life.  He taught me so much about myself and what I want in my life.  Thank you for hurting me as bad as you did when you ended things this summer.  If it had not hurt so much I may have never seen how unmanageable my life had become.  I may have have never stopped using pills.  I may have never got to this place in my life.  I am finally becoming happy and comfortable with who I am.
  11. I love you – I’m not in love with you.  I don’t want to be with you.  I don’t even really want to see you again.  But, I love you.  I have compassion and love in my heart for you and your son. I keep the two of you in my prayers and  wish you a beautiful life.

Fuck I Don’t Feel Like Writing

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“So baby girl put it on me!”

I can’t get Ja Rule out of my head.

Its playing on my Spotify in the background.  I never write while listening to music.  I usually can’t concentrate unless I have silence.  But today I’m not sure what to write about.  Or if this will turn into anything other than a draft that sits on the back-end of my site forever.

I’m sitting on my couch with a smile on my face.  My dog’s sprawled out next to me sleeping the morning away.  It’s one of those funny mornings where I know I have a ton to do today, but I’m not stressing.  I’m trying my hardest to stay present and enjoy my day as it comes.

Too often I stress the future and what I feel needs to happen.  I can’t sit still and focus on whats happening in the present.  I want to get to these future events and get them over with.

I’m not sure why I feel that way.  I don’t know if it’s that I feel there is a void in my life right now or if it’s because I haven’t achieved a certain goal yet.  Possibly its the anxiety and fear of not knowing how it will play out.  The one thing I do know is that the the anticipation and the process of getting to wherever I want to be in life tends to be the most exciting part.

One of my favorite lines from any movie sums up these thoughts so perfectly:

“It not about the past or what you think might happen in the future, its about the ride for Christ Sake. There’s no point in going through all this crap if you’re not going to enjoy the ride.  And you know what?  When you least expect it something great might come along – Something better than you even planned for”

Listening to those words always makes me smile and puts life in perspective for me.  Something as simple as taking one minute to watch a clip of a movie can completely change my outlook for the day.  Gleaning little pearls of wisdom from all aspects of life helps me get a better understanding of myself and how I should live.  Appreciating each day for what it is; a gift.

I may not have all the things I want in my life today, but I have what I need.  Hell, I have more than I need.  At some point I may even want to getting rid of some of the possessions I have.

Life is a journey not a destination.  Trite but true.  A journey that is difficult and painful, but rewarding.  Reminding myself of this allows me to slow down and appreciate things as they come.  I don’t have to worry about filling a void or achieving a goal right this second.  The most important thing I can do is enjoy this moment because it will not come again.

About A Boy

Without even recognizing it, uncomfortable emotions have crept up on me again this year.  My Ex and I have been off and on for the past three years.  This time has been the longest of our break ups.  Each time we have split up we started talking on Mother’s Day and end up back together around Memorial Day.

We rush back into our relationship blindly without looking at the past wreckage we both have caused.  Ultimately the results are always the same.  It doesn’t work out because we have never resolved our past issues.  We take what we feel is a serendipitous reconnection and impulsively jump back into our relationship.

This year I am able to step back and assess my past relationship with her with a more discerning eye.  Too much has occurred between us for me to want to be with her again at this point.  I can’t allow myself to be hurt, or to hurt her, again knowing full well what has happened in the past.  At least that’s what I am telling myself.

The most regrettable part of this story is that she has a son who had to go through all this.   He deserves better than what her and I created.  I haven’t seen him in a little over four months now.  He’s the greatest little guy I have ever met.  I love him like he is my own.  I miss spending time with him playing , building Legos, and the bond we shared.

If I am being truthful, the reason I reached out to her on Mothers day is because I miss him.  I want to be a part of his life again.  When her and I broke up the last time we made an agreement I would stay in his life for as long as he wanted to see me.  I stuck to this agreement and saw him every other weekend for the next nine months.  However, I got to a point that I could no longer be around her.  It was unhealthy for everyone.

Unfortunately that meant I couldn’t see him anymore either.  I never wanted to stop being a part of his life, but I could no long be a part of her’s.

When I spoke with her yesterday I asked if I could see him again.  She told me she didn’t think that could happen.  She said he has struggled to adapt to no longer seeing me and she doesn’t want to confuse him further.  She went on to tell me how he talks about me and my dog often and wants to see us so bad.  Hearing her tell me that broke my heart.

She also mentioned that she wanted to protect herself from getting confused and backtracking in her life.  I can appreciate and respect what she said because the last thing I want to do is hurt either of them again.  I made it clear I don’t want to be with her or interfere with her current relationship.

She expressed that I was supposed to in his life as a step father.  She felt if I was to see him again he would be confused and want the three of us to do things together again and eventually he would want me to stay.  Her and I both know those things can’t happen anytime soon.  Or more realistically ever.

As we continued our conversation she brought up the past several.  She made comments about “us” and resentments she still harbors towards me.  I wasn’t the best boyfriend.  I understand where she is coming from as I harbored resentments towards her until recently.  I just know that I can’t allow myself to be resentful.  It brings me down and leads me back into a world that is unhealthy for me.  But I realize I can’t expect her to be on the same page as I am.

Im at a crossroads where I’m unsure If I am being selfish in wanting to be a part of his life.  I don’t know if it would be detrimental to him in the long run.  I have already been in and out of his life twice because his mother and I have not been able to keep our relationship together.  The last thing I want to do is hurt him more.

As an adult we have to make brutally painful decisions about what is best for other people.  In this case I’m not sure I’m able to do that.  I so deeply want to be a part of his life again that I’m afraid I’m unable to see what the right thing to do is.

Too often in my past when I thought I was being selfless I was being selfish.  I have difficulty seeing the difference while I am immersed in the situation.   I truly love this little boy.  Proving I love him may mean that I have to stay out of his life forever.  That’s the sad truth I don’t want to face.

Being Tortured Is A Choice

Pain-Is-Inevitable-Suffering-Is-OptionalI’m a glutton for punishment.  At least I used to be.  Looking back at how I handled many of the trials and tribulations in my life, I can honestly say I chose to be tortured.  I don’t think I necessarily made those decisions on purpose.  But suffering was the path I embraced.

Its hard to stay even keel when going through tough times. Especially when it feels like there are life altering, negative implications.  I know it’s a hackneyed platitude, but sometimes It’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

However, there are ways to utilize these arduous events as springboards to something positive in life.  Looking at my own life I find this to be true.  Out of every tragedy (or what I perceived as tragedy at the time) there has always been a lesson to learn and an opportunity to make my life better in some facet.

There have been times where I felt my world would end.  For example, two years ago I had to stop using steroids, give up my very lucrative illegitimate business and move away from the place I had called home for many years to start a new life.  I had to change everything I had known for the past decade (for better or worse) and become someone I had no understanding of.

I didn’t know what life would look like for me without the facade of who I had become.  It was the most uncomfortable time in my life.  At least it felt like it was at that point.  Today I realize it was a minor bump in the road.  I had previously survived adversity that felt like the death of “me” many times.

The results stemming from my behavior snowballed into more torture for myself.  I lost my relationship and the family setting I had so desperately wanted.  I ended up relapsing back into my opiate addiction.  I even debated making the ultimate mistake, committing suicide.

I chose to be miserable and create pain and suffering for myself.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s what I was doing.  I had options, a multitude of them in fact.  However, I didn’t recognize them as such.  I was too focused on what I perceived I had lost.

I was unable to be observant of my environment.  I couldn’t focus on what my life could look like in the future.  I did’t understand that I could choose to be happy in that moment if I kept a level head and reminded myself that what I was going through would pass.

Learning to step back from my own situation and applying a less emotionally charged perspective has taken a tremendous amount of time and practice.  Quite often I fail at this.  Its like anything else, it takes a lot of reps to build that mental muscle.

We all have choices in our lives every day.  From the simplest choices like what we eat and what we wear.  To the most difficult choices of what we think about and allow into our lives.  There’s a quote I used to hear in AA when members would discuss the recovery process.  They would say “its simple, but its not easy”  The same holds true for how we choose to view adversity.

I Pissed On My Protein Bar

I jumped out of bed at 4 A.M. with a massive urge to piss.  On my way to the bathroom I grabbed the protein bar I had sitting on my dresser and started eating it.

home-designI stood in front of the toilet emptying my bladder while I ate my delicious chocolate Power Crunch bar.  I could barely keep my eyes open.  As I took my third bite of the bar it cracked in my hand and the majority of it fell into the toilet with the wrapper attached.  I continued to piss on my bar while my brain tried to make sense of what had just occurred.

I came to enough to realize that I had a little bit of an issue.  I couldn’t flush the rest of the bar with the wrapper.  I needed to reach into the toilet bowl full of my own piss and pick the bar out and throw it away.  It wasn’t the most appealing activity to perform at any time of the day, much less at four in the morning.  I put my hand into the bowel, grabbed the bar and threw it out.

A couple of things went through my head at that very moment.  First, I was a little bummed that I couldn’t finish my bar because they taste amazing.  Second, I just put my hand in piss to fish this bar out of the toilet; that’s gross.

At times I ruminate over little disappointments like these.  I allow them to ruin my mood and possibly keep me up for hours.  But my mind quickly shifted to the fact that I wanted another bar I have a cabinet full of them.  I can easily wash the piss off my hands with a little soap and water.

Why do I bother to write this story you may ask?  Well, because I had this experience a couple of hours ago and I didn’t lose my mind or break my toilet in the process.  That may not seem like much to some people but to me it’s pretty fucking amazing.

So often the trivial setbacks life throws at me have had so much power over my actions and attitude.  I have allowed the tiniest misfortunes to snowball and turn into much larger problems.

I had a counselor in rehab once tell me, “Its not the big dogs you have to worry about, you know how to deal with them.  Its the little dogs jumping up to bite your nuts that always get in your way.” He was absolutely right.  Its ridiculous when I think about the hardships I have endured and been able to  move forward; yet something like dropping a protein bar in the toilet could ruin my day.

This analogy may be a stretch for some people.  But when your mindset is one of abundance you automatically become cognizant that small setbacks and disappointments don’t need to take you off your path and eat up your time.  Learn from your mistakes.  Change your approach next time to make sure the same results don’t ensue.

When one opportunity falls through you have 4-5 more on the shelf that you can run with.  You just have to go to the sink, wash the piss of your hands and grab another protein bar from the cabinet.

 

 

Purpose and Progress

Last night I made the decision that my life had fallen off track the last couple of weeks.  Ever since my vacation to California I had become unproductive and had lost focus of my goals.  My life had become all about play and very little about work.  I decided this was no longer acceptable and I needed to correct my behavior in order to restore some balance to my life.

Last night I set my alarm earlier than normal so I could get a head start on a productive day.  As the alarm on my phone blared its annoying cry this morning at 6:30 I tried to figure out why I was getting up early.

I could think of 100 reasons why I wanted to hit snooze and stay in bed.  I had fallen asleep late.  I woke up several times during the night.  My allergies were killing me.  My dog was being adorable the way she way laying with me.  But I literally couldn’t think of one reason as to why I should get up and start my day.

The outcome was obvious; I hit snooze.  Over and over.  After the fourth time I hit snooze I finally woke up, measured my dick, hit my knees, said my morning prayer then went to the kitchen to make myself a protein shake and eat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.

article-2268950-1730381E000005DC-879_634x654The sad reality of what got me out of bed this morning is that I had an erection I wanted to measure.  Lately I’ve been feeling like my penis hasn’t been working correctly.  This has been a struggle for me ever since I got off steroids almost two years ago because I now have low testosterone levels.  In my mind it looks and feels much smaller than I remember.  This summer it felt and worked fine but I had a mental blow to my ego/penis that made me second guess the whole situation.

The only motivating factor that could drive me out of bed this morning was my fear and insecurity.  I had a good, full erection that felt right for once and I wanted to get out of bed quickly to measure it before It went flaccid.  Once I measured it I felt a little better and started my day.

On days like this it’s clear to me I struggle with my vision and purpose.  When my thoughts about staying in bed asleep far outweigh my ability to wake up and start my day, I know there is a huge disconnect.  I can make 1000 excuses as to why I couldn’t wake up and start my day early.  But the reality is I didn’t have a strong sense of purpose for my day.

I had my list of goals I want to accomplish today written down.  I made sure to look it over last night before bed as a reminder of the productive day I needed to have today.  But when my alarm went off I couldn’t think of anything on that list.  The comfort of laying in bed was overwhelming.  I came very close to cashing in my day before it even started.

These days become all too common in our lives.  We only get up out of a sense of fear that if we don’t we will experience negative repercussions in our lives.  We may miss our bus,  get fired from our job for not being on time or get up out of fear that our penis shrank.  But how long can those negative factors be the driving force in our lives and allow us to have a meaningful and successful existence.

For me, fear only drives me enough to do the bare minimum to get the job done.  There’s usually not a lot of satisfaction in things I do out of fear.  Facing my fears and doing things because they scare me, not because I am scared of what happens when I don’t do them, is something altogether different.  For me that’s where purpose comes in.  Part of what makes me feel alive is doing new activities that I am afraid of or being put in situations that take me out of my comfort zone.

My purpose may change daily.  But without purpose my days just exist.  They tend to lack meaning and rarely lead to any progress.  They become the rat race, drowning in the tedium of everyday life.

My purpose doesn’t need to be some grandiose goal every day.  But it needs to have meaning and serve my life in a manner that allows me to create progress.  When I am able to create progress my life becomes a journey.  Turning life into a game by challenging myself through daily experiments to see what I can accomplish so that life can have more meaning than just getting out of bed to measure my boner.

Life is Brutal but Beautiful

In May of last year one of my closest friends took his own life.  Mark was only 42.   A mutual friend of ours called me and told me the news.  When I saw his name come up on my phone I had an eerie feeling something had happened to Mark.  I was devastated as I fell to the ground clutching my phone.

Mark was like a brother to me.  We had been through a lot together during our friendship.  We met at the gym and he became my lifting partner for years when I lived in Baltimore.  We both had a passion for fitness.  We always joked that no one else would train with either of us because of how much we sweat during our workouts.

725He was a talented athlete.  A former wrestler at the collegiate and professional level.  He even spent a little time wrestling in the WWF (now known as WWE).  He was tough nails but had the biggest heart.

Mark was a guy who gave all he had to anyone he could.  He was a very gifted personal trainer that had an uncanny ability to help others rehab through injuries and illnesses.  One woman came to Mark with a claw hand that she had not been able to use for years.   Through trigger point massage and several other techniques he was able to give her full dexterity back in that hand.  She had seen doctors for years and no one could help her the way Mark was able to.

The two of us had the same sick sense of humor.  We would say things to each other that most people would find incredibly stupid and immature, but we found it hilarious.  Most of the time we were just picking on each other about dumb shit we had done.  He had the most amazing and infectious laugh I’ve ever heard.

Mark was one of the few people in my life that I could be myself around.  I never worried about what I said or how I acted.  Every time we saw each other I would tell him I loved him before I left.

Mark had talked to me about suicide in the past.  I had talked him down from the ledge many times before.  But this time he was set on doing it and he never reached out.  I guess he felt he didn’t have the strength to come back from what he was going through.  It makes me so sad to think he didn’t realize how many people loved him and would had done anything to help him.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to say a few words about Mark at his funeral.  I was so filled with emotion when I spoke that the only part I vividly remember saying was  “Life is brutal but beautiful.”  Those five words summed up my feelings and the dichotomy of the life.

The brutality of this situation was very easy to see.  The tremendous amount of pain it caused everyone who cared for him was plastered on their faces in tears and sadness.  A man who was far too young decided to make a permanent decision for a temporary problem.  His pain had become so great that he couldn’t see that his life could possibly get better in the future.  The fact that Mark felt so alone that he couldn’t reach out for help.

The beauty of that day was in all the people that came together to show their love and appreciation for Mark.  To pay our respects and celebrate his life.  Sharing stories of how he had affected our lives and made us richer for having known him.  The serenity of knowing that Mark was no longer in pain and was in a better place.

I miss my friend daily.  His picture hangs on my refrigerator and I talk to him often.  I know hes somewhere smiling down on everyone he loves and probably laughing at all of my mistakes.  If only Mark could have seen the beauty we all saw in him he may still be alive today.

Life is hard.  We all know that.  But, it’s important to smile, take time for yourself and love people with all you have.  Find joy in your life everyday and look for ways to give back to others.  Life’s about the journey more so than the destination.  If you don’t take time to enjoy it daily you miss out on so much of what is amazing in this world.  There is adversity and brutality all around us everywhere we look. But life is also the most rewarding and beautiful experience we will ever have.