Over the years I’ve had many bouts with depression. I don’t talk about it much but it’s a part of me. I gave it a name a few years ago. Horowitz. A personality that I could converse with or talk about. It’s the black dog, the dark shadow that lurks behind my ear and most of the time I can talk him down. But not always. During those times when I cannot, my perspectives become skewed in the wrong direction. A friend of mine, frequently, will ask me what I am grateful for. This post, I have decided make a gratitude list. Things that give me hope which I look to a lot during the darker days until the sun shines again. This is by no means a complete list but it’s some important moments that I reflect on a lot. So here goes.
- The 1st day I stood at the top of Eldora Mountain.
The crisp air and the vibrant blue of the sky that I had never thought possible in a color. The fear I felt as I stood there with ski poles in hand looking out over the range and down the run that I could not see past 50 yards. The rush as I pushed off the steep grade into the unknown on the highest slope I had ever attempted to ski. I crashed at that 50 yards; there was a short drop off and I crashed, and laughed so hard I almost pissed myself. True story.
- The day my daughter was born.
I knew as I held her that my life was going to change in dramatic ways. I didn’t really understand how dramatically in that moment but I would discover how in short order.
- Sobriety. 19 years
- The day my wife and I were married.
There has been many times when I felt so lost, or disconnected and all I have to do is look at a picture from that day, or recall the moment when I first saw her come out of the house in her hand made buck skin dress and I remember how to feel at ease again. No one has ever been more supportive and encouraging to me.
- Watching the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch from the Rocket Garden at Kennedy. I have always wanted to see a launch since I watched the shuttles on TV as a boy. So last February it happened. Not only was it the greatest launch ever, in my opinion, but as I stood there and watched I literally laughed, and cried at the same time. Something came over me as I watched that ripping through the sky and felt the rumble, and then watched the rocket boosters return.
- Rocket Man
Every time I look up at the night sky and remember: there’s a damn Tesla Roadster up there!!! I also have a tattoo to commemorate that day with a Heavy Metal twist!!
- Spin Classes.
Specifically Carole who was the first coach I had. I started attending her classes after our return from Florida last winter. Her energy and encouragement pushed me just enough to keep me coming back, which led to my next bullet point. I started cycling at 297lbs, pack a day smoker, and generally felt like shit all of the time. I was depressed, and miserable and she made every ride feel like I conquered the world, or at least myself. I lost 30 lbs in the short time before they closed the gym to classes and then……
- My Trek road bike and starting of long distance cycling.
So there were some positive health effects to the riding, but what I also found was the mental and emotional effects on long rides. In a very short period of time I was up to riding about 25-30 miles a day. On weekends I was riding about 50-75 miles. Though there was a lot of isolation on those rides and the rides I plan to continue when it gets warm, Horowitz shut his yap. I was at peace while physically exerting myself. Yes there were times early on that I believe I was intentionally punishing myself through that work. But as endurance crept up, I just wanted to keep going, to enjoy the solitude and quiet. I sometimes ride with other people but there is something very special to me on the long solo rides. I get perspective and weird as it seems I feel recharged.
- The day I paid off my student loans.
Don’t really need to elaborate on that.
- Elon Musk
because he reminds me that you can still be a kid,
that adults can still dream and do really cool stuff.
Started seeing a therapist I like and actually started talking
- My job.
and not just for the money. No I’m not kidding. My employer has been at the very least every where I have ever dreamed about working. Supportive, understanding, encouraging, and they recognize what I do. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else, even on my worst days. Plus what I do is pretty cool.
- Books and Podcasts.
Oh so many books! I’m just going to list a few. Hitchhikers Guide, Good Omens, Boy’s Life, Swan Song, all of the Hardy Boys, The complete works of Poe, I Used to be a Miserable Fuck, You are a Badass, The Naked Professors Podcast, Lance Armstrongs The Forward Podcast, The Big Book….
I couldn’t begin to list the musicians I am grateful for. But I will name a few as they have passed recently. Music effects me deeply. Someday when I could feel nothing at all, music would touch me so profoundly that I was able to. Music can make me laugh, and weep, and groove, and sing me to sleep, or wake me up and rock out. Music always hits me in the gut. So thank you Chris Cornell, Gregg Allman, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Thelonious Monk, and also thank you to bands like Mark Knopfler, DBT, John Crosby (VAST), Lucero, Metallica (specifically for Justice!) There are so many bands, thank you for the music that makes me feel. Your work can transport me to a time and place long forgotten every single time.
That is all for today. I need to go listen to some music now!!!
I’m also grateful for little things, like not spending a night in a psych center in over 19 years, not severly hurting anyone in a very long time, not being that volatile and angry person I used to be, for recognizing the good in life as well as the things I’ve failed at, for every sunset I get to watch and for most of the sunsets that I seem to miss. I’m grateful for humor, and I’m grateful for every guy I talk to who hates talking about the weather too.
What are you grateful for today?