Why We Love Old Things

A few years ago my mother gifted all of her children with a flash drive of all our old family photos. Over the years I have had a bitter-sweet relationship with those photos. Sometimes I can look at them and it brings back forgotten happy memories, but more often than naught it brings back reminders of just how unhappy I was during a certain time and I was trying desperately to mask. Despite all of this I keep going back, keep looking at these images, and keep remembering. Why? Because I have a theory on why we love old things.

I think I was 17 in this picture. I was about to graduate from HS and I had no idea what I was about to do with my life. I was terrified.

When you were a kid did you ever like something? Could have been a band, a movie, or maybe even a book…then one day you shared that like with a group of “friends” and they made fun of you for liking that thing. Has that ever happened to you? What happened after that happened? Did you go on liking that thing, but in secret? Did you put the movie, CD, or book into a box and hide it away in some dark closet? Did you stop wearing that band’s t-shirt? Did you stop playing D&D?

Maybe none of these things happened…Maybe you were just interested in a subject and wanted to learn more about it, but never did because it was perceived as unpopular or uncool to participate in such things. So you didn’t…right?

This kind of thing happened A LOT to a lot of kids. From the moment I turned 8 years old my father’s favorite quote, that he recited to me over and over was “When I was a child I thought as a child and acted as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things.” So as I grew up I always felt guilty for liking certain things…bands, comics, POGs, cartoons, movies, etc…because I was constantly told either by family members or friends that I shouldn’t like those things. So even though I wanted to…I didn’t.

At some point in my mid 20’s, I actually convinced myself to throw away a large collection of movies, music, and comics that I had accumulated over the years because I thought it was time for me to be an adult and “put away childish things”. I hate that I ever felt that way about myself and my interests because I lost out on so many years that I could have enjoyed those things.

Why do we love old things? Because we were never allowed to enjoy them safely when we were younger, and now that we are older, we have come to understand that people’s opinions of us matter less, that our time is short here on earth, and we gave ourselves permission to like and participate in whatever we want without judgment from ourselves.

We can play D&D without having to find excuses for why we play D&D, and just enjoy the company of good friends and a good story game. We can read comics for no other reason than because we like the artwork and enjoy the plot. You can watch a cartoon or TV show without guilt because the characters make you feel comfortable and safe.

My favorite D&D Dice

See the whole idea of “when I became a man I put away childish things” is wrong. I think The Doctor said it best when he said “There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes..”

So go like what you like. If someone doesn’t like it ignore them. It is your life, not theirs. If they want to live their life without, let them! Just because they do it doesn’t mean you have to. So go out and enjoy all the things you were not able to enjoy when you were a child.

Thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear what you think about all this. Feel free to leave a comment or reach out on Instagram, Twitter, Patreon, or Vero.

Can Photography Help Mental Health

I always thought it a weird joke the universe was playing on me when I think back on the worst day of my life. It was April 1, 2009 (April Fools Day), and I was planning to kill myself.

I have struggled with mental health most of my life. Growing up I never really felt safe. School was honestly a form of cruel and unusual torture as I was plagued by both students and teachers for most of my grade school and middle school career. And while some people had the blessing of being able to go home and find peace I was not graced with that option. Home was a place of violent emotional outbursts, unrealistic expectations, dishonesty, and religious brainwashing. So when I tell you I grew up in survival mode you can at least have a vague understanding.

When someone grows up in survival mode it’s extremely difficult for them to be present in the moment. Their brains are operating at 110% all the time analyzing every interaction, motion, word, and phrase. Looking for dangers, and planning out how they will react when the inevitable danger appears. It is an exhausting way to live, and one of the most difficult trauma responses to unlearn.

I carried much of this flight or fight hyper-vigilance into adulthood and I will be honest it ruined a lot of relationships, friendships, and opportunities. So when my world came crashing down around me on April 1, 2009 I thought I was done. I was tired, exhausted, and just didn’t see a way out. More importantly, I just didn’t want to live like that anymore. So I pulled out my gun, loaded it, and decided to have one last night before the end. I ordered my favorite Chinese food (sesame chicken with fried rice & a coke), cleaned up my apartment (no idea why), and decided to listen to some music. Now at the time, I had a 500-disc CD player, and it was fully loaded with CDs from 500 different artists. I picked up the remote and hit shuffle…what happened next will forever be one of the biggest surprises of my life!

This is the bullet that was supposed to take me out in 2009. I have carried it as a reminder of that night ever since.

Suicide rates are something no one really talks about. Out of 100,000 people, 13 will commit suicide. That comes out to 130 suicides per day and men have 69.98% of that statistic. Now that is just how many succeed in committing suicide. In 2020 there were 1.2 million REPORTED attempts, and we can assume that that number is higher because not everyone reports their attempt.

I never reported mine, in fact, I didn’t talk about it or tell anyone about it for years. It took me a while to come to grips with what happened. How it happened, and why it happened. Why me?

So there I was, sitting on the couch, eating sesame chicken and sipping on a coke. I had just hit shuffle on my CD player and the VERY FIRST song to come on was a song called Birthday by The Cruxshadows. Now I won’t quote the entire song to you, but I will quote the lyrics that hit me like a ton of bricks…

“So look at your life
Who do you want to be before you die?
Look at your life
And what do you want to do?
Look at your life
Who do you want to be before you die?
Look at your life
You haven’t got forever”

The Cruxshadows

I heard those lyrics and realized I did not want this to be my last night on earth. I wanted more, and to live a better life. So I unloaded my gun and put it away.

Now I wish I could tell you that the next day I woke up a changed man…I didn’t. I wish I could tell you the next day was better…It wasn’t…in fact, it was worse. But I knew I wanted to get better, and I had a long journey in front of me. I started going to therapy, reading good books, and making changes in my life. It did not happen all at once. It did not even happen quickly. But eventually, those small changes had a compound effect and my life started to improve.

One of the changes that came into my life a few years later was photography. Social media had introduced me to so many beautiful and stunning images online, and I desperately wanted to create beautiful images myself. I had no idea how, or what I was doing, but photography had sparked something inside me. A fire that was never going to go out. I started taking pictures of anything and everything. Some were good, most were ok, and a few were really bad. But I didn’t care. Picking up a camera was a near meditative experience for me.

See when you grow up in survival mode, and eventually, learn to live in survival mode your brain never stops running. It moves at the speed of a supercomputer always looking for danger and popping out ideas of how to deal with that imagined danger. But when I put a camera in my hand my brain stopped looking for dangers. It took a break and for the first time in my entire life, I could be present 100% in the moment. No what ifs. Just me, my camera, and whatever I was shooting.

After living a lifetime in survival mode this reprieve from my brain was/is an experience I have difficulty describing. I remember trying to explain this to my best friend once and saying “Is this how normal people live?! Because if so they have no idea how wonderful their lives are!!”

So can photography help people suffering from mental health? Yes! It has not only given me a haven to help ease my troubled mind but has allowed me the opportunity to express difficult emotions that I could never express before.

I will never understand what happened that night on April 1, 2009. Why out of all those CDs did the machine pick that one CD and that one song? Was it a higher power? If so why me?

I will probably never know the answers to those questions, but what I do know is I am grateful I did not pull the trigger that night. I am grateful I eventually discovered photography, and I am grateful I now get to create beautiful images and share them…Just like I wanted to so many years ago.

Music & Adventure

A few weeks ago I realized my YouTube subscriptions had started to run a little stale.  With the exception of Kiri most of the people I was following on YouTube had either stopped posting, or were basically posting the same videos over and over.

So I went exploring, and was pleased to find Mr. Ben Brown.  His videos of exploration, and adventure have a tendency to make me smile.  Further his musical selections for his YouTube videos are often great pieces of music that I have never heard before.

This evening I was watching this video where Ben and his girlfriend Nicole go on a romantic hike and discover a beautiful waterfall.  Not only did I love the cinema-photography, but the music was spot on!

So I did some exploring, and discovered that the music was by Sam Garrett.  Now I will confess I was a little disappointed to discover that none of his music is available on vinyl, but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to his playlist for the last hour or so.

I hope you all enjoy his music as well.

Cheers everyone!

Weekly Wishes #1

weekly-wishesI mentioned this on Facebook earlier this week, but one of the things I love about social media is being able to connect, and share ideas with creative people.  This week I was introduced to “linkups” through blogs by the wonderfully talented Emily Ryan. She shares in her post her wishes for this coming week. An idea inspired by Melyssa. These beautiful and creative women have inspired me to write my own “Weekly Wishes” list, and I have decided to make it a regular post here each Sunday.

  1. Listen to music for 10 minutes each day uninterrupted  – I have always loved music.  When I was a little boy I tried out for a solo singing edelweiss in my elementary schools music review.  I got the part.  When I got home to tell my parents, they were kind, but they didn’t believe me, and thought I was making it up.  My Mom tells me she was very surprised when I stepped up on stage and sang a beautiful song that put her in tears as she listened.  I have always loved music, but as an adult I have noticed I have not really been listening to music.  Sure I have it on in the car, or while I work, but how often do I just listen to music?  So this week I have a goal to listen to just 10 minutes of uninterrupted music each day.  No phone, computer, internet, TV, or any other distracting activity.  Just me and the music!
  2. Write 4 new blog posts – I really enjoy writing.  There is something soothing about writing, that frees your soul.  So this week I want to write 4 new posts.  They can be for this blog, or for Geek and Gamer Fitness.
  3. Read 70 pages of a good book – I recently read that too many books can be a distraction.  How many of us have read an amazing book cover to cover, put it down, and picked up the next book on our reading list?  When we find a book with thought provoking ideas we should read it over and over again, studying its words.  So this week its my intention to read 70 pages of only one book, and learn from it.
  4. Make progress on my new puzzle I bought a new puzzle in Seattle a few weeks ago.  Its beautiful and I want to glue it together and hang in on my office wall.  The problem is its a VERY hard puzzle, and I am not very good at puzzles.  So I want to just make progress on it.
  5. Write 1000 words in my Dragon Riders novel
  6. Paint my office a new color – I have been slowly organizing my home office again, and want to paint it a new color.  I am thinking a calming sea blue.
  7. Clean my car – Trust me when I say its filthy!  It really needs it!
  8. Go on three 30 minute walks with my wife – Terra and I went on a walk the other day, and it was wonderful.  No phones, computers, or other distractions.  Just me and her.  I really enjoyed talking to her, and holding her hand.  Plus we live in WA so I should take advantage of the nice weather before the rain returns.
  9. Stick to my diet 100% – This includes logging everything into myfitnesspal
  10. Complete 7 workouts this week each lasting 30 minutes or more

A New Beginning & A Fresh Coat Of Paint

I honestly didn’t realize I started this blog back in April of 2009. I have come a very long way since then, and a lot has happened. I have been wanting to start writing again, personally. So I decided to come back here, and begin anew with a fresh look to the site. I hope you all enjoy.

This morning my friend Kiri Callaghan posted this amazing video to her Facebook wall.

Now I am a fan of Lindsey Stirling, but the performance of the musicians in this video is incredible!  You can see how the music affect them deeply and they cant help but express that through heartfelt emotion and dance.  I remember feeling that way once about music.  I can still remember the first time I listened to Rent. The music and chords were amazing, and I could feel the raw emotion of the music down to my core. When I played in the Northwest Chamber Orchestra we once played The Bacchanale by Saint Saens. Never before had I thrown myself into learning a piece of music. As we performed it on stage I remember feeling connected to the music in a way that I had never experienced before. My entire body was vibrating with the sound of the music, and I loved it.

As I watched the video above I realized that it has been a long time since music has spoken to me, and I have felt an emotional response that reaches down to my core.  This understanding really upset me, especially considering how music has always been a big part of my life.  Somehow over the years I let it slip away, and I want the passion I once had for music back.

I am planning on having my parents ship me out my Viola, and I am going to pick one piece of music and throw myself into learning it.  This is really not going to be as easy as it sounds as it has been years since I read music, and even longer since I attempted to play anything outside of simple Christmas tunes a few years ago.  While I am not starting from scratch I will have to relearn a great deal.  But I am going to give myself till the end of the year to learn this piece of music and then I plan to present it in a performance.  Its been a long time since I had the opportunity to perform music in public and I am looking forward to doing it again.

Until then I hope to be able to stoke the passions I once had for music back into a roaring fire of emotion.  Wish me luck!

49. Music

As I was looking over my friends facebook status updates today my friend Nikki posted a link to Robin Hood: PoT sound track. It brought back several memories. Music was always important in my family, and we listened to a varied range of different kinds of music. My Dad loved classical music, and instrumental movie soundtracks. I can remember good memories of listening to Out of Africa, The Rocketeer, Jurrassic Park, Robin Hood: PoT, and many many more.

It took me a long time to find my musical taste. I always had a love of instumental music, and still do to this day. For a short time I had a great love of country music, but non of the boys my age listened to country, and they teased me about it a lot. So after all the teasing I could take I finally stopped listening. Today I still like certain country music, but I rarley listen to it with others around. Maybe its still some left over feelings from being teased as a kid, but I prefer my country in the pricacy of my own car.

After my country phase I started listening to some of the great Braodway classics. Shows like Phantom of the Opera, and Les Mis. I remember being blow away by the power the songs and music had, and was so eager to share it with my friends. I was a little surprised when once again I got strange looks and a few teasing remarks. A few short years later I found myself at Northwest School of the Arts, and for the first time in my life I was surrounded by other kids who liked the same music as I did. To be honest I didnt think anyone else liked what I did, and was VERY happy to find I was wrong. What was even better is I was introduced to music and shows that I had never heard before, like Cats, Guys and Dolls, The Baccinnal (sp?), Rent, and others.

Around my sophmore year in high school I was introduced to 80’s hair band rock, and let me tell you how awesome I fell for that! Me and my two best friends Donna and Markham loved listening to bands like Poison, White Snake, White Lion, Winger, and more. To this day I love listening to a good hair metal song (much to the dismay of my wife).

Recntly and for no other reason then a few songs popped up on my Pandora radio I have started to like listening to blues music. I think its the guitar instumental parts. I dont really care for the singing, but I do love the guitar.

Over the years my music taste has become sort of a melting pot of different types of music. However there is one type of music that I can not stand. One paticular who has the ability to drive me to commit murder. Lady Ga Ga Must Die!!!!!

30. WootStock 2010

On May 7, 2010 Terra and I ventured up to the city of Seattle to Attend w00tstock. Both Terra and I had been looking forward to going since we attended Emerald City Comic Con. Our main draw was to go see Wil Wheaton, but we were encouraged about the other performances.

Our journey did not start off as we had hoped. After spending over two hours in the car, due to traffic we finally arrived in Seattle. (NOTE: from our house to seattle should only take an hour) We found parking reletivly easy, which is suprising for a Friday night, and headed out on foot toward the address given to us for The Moore Theater.

My plan at this point was to provide you with the same link I used for directions, however I have discovered that the address on the website has now changed, and the address google used has been removed. I have a feeling it was done so due to the large number of complaints I am sure both the theater and google may have received over this event, because both sites gave you an address of 94 Pike Street. If you follow the link to the Theater you will see this is not their address at all. So confused and still getting to know Seattle Terra and I ran around aimlessly trying to find where we were going. We asked a few people who knew we were close but couldn’t point us in the exact direction we needed to go. Terra even called her sister Megan and asked her to look it up on the net, and see if she could find a different address then I had. She could not, because she was given the same false address as I had. So at this point I turned to Foursquare. I quickly found the theater, and received directions from other people checked into the theater. Several of them mentioned how the address listed on google and the main theater site was false, and provided the correct one. Turns out from where we were standing we were only two blocks away.

Arriving almost 20 minutes late we carefully found our seats and sat down. Since we arrived late we missed the introduction….

And the opening song…..(10 points if you get the non related reference)

And the first act from Load Ready Run

We arrived here

Molly Lewis was the next performance, and she was AWESOME!!! Before my mission I never really liked the ukulele as an instrument, but for some reason after the mission I suddenly developed a shine to it. Weird.

Following Molly Lewis we were entertained by James Ernest and Mike Selinker. Now you will notice in the video that they give us some sort of a video riddle. I have watched the video, and looked on the internet at other people who attended w00tstock, and really don’t know what the answer to the riddle is. Maybe you do?

This short video was next, and I must confess I think it may have been one of my favorite parts of w00tstock, because so many movie trailers are just like this! Is it sad that I wouldn’t mind watching that movie?

And now comes the moment we have all been waiting for….WIL WHEATON!!!! I never thought that one of the least liked Star Trek characters would turn out to be one of my favorite authors, bloggers, and performers. I had heard Terra talk about Wil for years, but honestly had no interest in looking into what Wil was all about until Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle WA. Here is a picture of Will after he signed my Star Wars Lando Action Figure (read his books to understand!)

So Wil took the stage and gave a GREAT performance about one of my favorite high school memories The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

After the AWESOME Wil Wheaton left the stage Paul from Paul and Storm made some merchandise plugs.

Now comes the moment in the show that I honestly dont know how to review. At this point in the show MC Frontalot took the stage. The reason I am having a hard time giving a review is I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY SAID. I could not understand a single word in their whole spot. The bass was up so loud and the vocals were so low that I cant tell you if I would like their music and lyrics or not. I am planning on looking into their music outside of w00tstock and I hope I will be able to understand them, so if I like them or don’t like them I will let you all know later.

After MC Frontalot, Paul and Storm along with Wil Wheaton took the stage and gave a wonderful performance of the European Lounge Singer. If you haven’t seen it, then shame on you!

And then Hank Green took to the stage, and was VERY funny. His rendition of “what would Captain Picard Do?” was in my top three moments of the night!

Im going to let Stephen Stepto speak for himself! (It was AWESOME!)

And then came Adam Savage. I really didnt excpect him to be funny, but WOW!

Then they tried to wrap the show up, but they found this VERY difficult! OK here is the thing I have been able to find every other part of the show BUT the finale sooooooooo I am using a finale video from another performance of w00tstock in another city. If I can find the Seattle performance I will post it.

Overall this was an AWESOME night, and will become a yearly thing for Terra and I!