Sunday, November 20, 2016

Southernland


It all started about a year and a half ago...when I first put on a VR headset I was in a really challenging place in my life..waking up feeling depressed or anxious most days..and I realized, when I put on the headset, it was the first time in months where I felt transported to a totally different world..where all of my negative thoughts had  melted away...

Pause.

It always amazes me when someone who seems so perfect shares the same afflictions as someone as unremarkable as myself. She's intelligent and talented and stunningly beautiful...she gets to travel the world and make videos for a living...she has a thousand friends and a million followers. What could she be have been depressed about?

It's so easy to believe that everyone else has it easy, but we are only looking at a tiny sliver, a moment, in everyone's lives.

Point taken. But it still doesn't answer my question.

My last heartbreak, which happened as my “adult self” was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. I had been positive that he was “the one,” that we would get married and have kids within the next five years. It’s a hard thing, to lose someone, but to also lose the happy future you imagined together. Coming out of that relationship made me question everything in my life. Despite the tremendous pain I felt after my last breakup, it’s inspired shifts in my life that previous breakups didn’t. I really re-assessed a lot of my choices and what makes me happy, and I think those changes will produce everlasting results. So yeah – hard to believe I’m even saying this, but I think some of the most painful stuff can also produce the most good.

...which explains the world travel and charity work and passion for virtual reality technology. Got it.

Continue.

I've had the privilege of documenting some amazing stories...people like Shirley McClure, who is a 72 year-old who was finally able to see her lifelong dream of driving a professional race car come true. I traveled to Mott's Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, where I got to see how their child care specialists have pioneered the use of VR technology to improve the quality of life for kids with life-threatening illnesses. I've also taken my 360 headset into hospitals and senior homes and homeless shelters... and more recently I've been stopping by the neuroscience lab at universities like USC and UCLA to learn about how VR can positively impact depression, anxiety, PTSD...

Well, don't I feel like an asshole. She's thought of all these amazing, life-changing ways to use virtual reality technology; all I'd use it for is to transport myself into her world.


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When you realize that your life is spiraling out of control, you can do two things: you can end it - or as MFFG often says, you can "choose life*".

*This often refers to being anti-abortion, but in her context it's about finding ways out of the darkness. 

How many times have you seen or heard or read inspirational stories about people who had reached a low point in life and felt lost, hurt, heartbroken? Addicts who chose the path to recovery and worked hard every day to stay clean and sober. Cubicle dwellers who broke free of the rat race and started their own small businesses doing something that inspired and fulfilled them. People with disordered eating habits who changed their diet and adopted a fit, healthy lifestyle that resulted in an improved physical and mental state, compliments from friends and family, and maybe even a new career as a personal trainer or nutritionist.

It happens all the time. Even if you're young and fit and attractive and not ensnared in addiction or a dead-end job... you can still hit rock bottom, and you can still find your way out. And maybe it's easier for them, to latch on to faith or fitness or future tech. Maybe because they have money or connections or a support system that encourages them. Maybe they can take risks in their lives because they don't have a spouse or children who depend on them for stability and that meager paycheck that's somehow enough to keep a roof over their head but not enough to afford a gym membership or a therapist. 


I have come to the conclusion (much too late, it seems) that I am in dire need of such a change. And I have discussed this many times with my wife. But either she doesn't get it or she cant help me, and trying to convey the urgency of my need is futile. I can fight her, but she'll always win. She can say "NO" a million times, and I'll have to back down. What am I going to do, divorce her? Who else would want me? 

And I couldn't possibly afford child support. Plus, I love my girls. I really do. They stress me out sometimes (because I'm already frazzled from work and my physical/mental health is in freefall) but I know that right now, today, I'm a better father to them than my father was to me. Admittedly a very low bar, but still...I have his genes. I could have easily repeated his destructive behaviors. I have a steady job (though it's only part-time), but I've never had ambition or a useful skill set. I am an addict, if not an alcoholic. I have anger issues, and the only reason why I'm able to control them is because I hit a kid with a hockey stick when I was 14 and nearly got arrested. Lesson learned. 

I can't move back home. My mom is elderly, and she will have to leave the house I grew up in soon - either due to eminent domain, or because she'll have to enter an elderly care facility. She's losing the ability to walk. Right now, she's able to get around on her own in short bursts. She wanted to go to an HRC rally, or an anti-Trump rally...but she cant stand/walk long enough. We went apple-picking last time I was in CT, and I had to help her up and down the small but steep hill to the orchard. Then, after a few minutes of watching her grandkids pick a hundred apples (we've still got two bushels full) my mom had to sit on the dirty, apple-stained ground because there were no benches.

I'm deathly afraid of getting old. I've never been in any real physical pain, never had a major illness or disease - or even a minor one. I guess you could say I've been lucky, but I know I'm way overdue for bad luck to happen (as in the Bundy Curse), and I tease fate by failing to address my issues. I recognize the warning signs - and dismiss them.

Andso I'm fascinated by the stories of people who can not only make a positive change in their own lives, but in the lives of others. It all seems like fiction to me, but it warms my heart regardless.

I can acknowledge that a certain someone has certain physical features that I find appealing (while tacitly admitting that an "average looking" person with the same qualities might not have found their way onto my radar) but I'm not writing thousands of words about a woman I've never met (and never will) simply because she's slender and sexy. That stuff just opens the door. What she does with those built-in advantages determines whether or not I want to stick around.




I can't afford a VR headset, but I can watch her videos. I can dream. I can transport myself to a totally different world, where all of my negative thoughts melt away... for a few seconds. 

And then... 


Fade to black.



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