It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times…

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That classic line, from the opening of “A Tale Of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens, certainly proves to be the perfect adage for my life at this time, and if we boil it down to the past six months, it’s amazing to not only see the change in my life and my health, but the absolute extremes that I have lived through in both directions.

The only difference would be that my life plays out in reverse order, as it had been the worst of times, and then three months ago it became the best.

As we scroll back to October 2017, I was about to hit rock bottom.  I was miserable.  I couldn’t sleep.  I was constantly sick, whether it was sinus infections or viruses or any kind of sickness that happened to be going around, my immune system was shot.  I had stomach ulcers which meant that even though I could eat, I was in constant pain and had to take medication on numerous occasions to try to fix that issue.

Then I started getting migraine headaches.  My eyeballs would “jump,” which I looked up online and found that this issue was most commonly caused by anxiety.  Huge surprise, there.  I was also around 80 pounds overweight.  By the time November was closing, I was so miserably unhappy thoughts of death were a normal part of every day.  Not that I was actively planning to commit suicide, but I was praying that perhaps one night I would go to bed and maybe, as per the Megadeth song, “wake up dead.”

My hair started to fall out.  I hated my job, but had to make the money.

People were spending money faster than I was making it, but luckily I had cash reserves, so it wasn’t like anyone was doing without.  And seeing that my son had everything that he wanted was the most important thing, I wanted him to grow up knowing that he had a great childhood, just like I did.  I had the greatest childhood anyone ever had.  I wouldn’t trade my childhood memories, or my life in general, for anything.

And things started to change for me.

The realization that I was finally, totally, completely and eternally out of a horrible situation that I was in was the first step in making my life better.  And once I started to fall into a normal schedule, circa 2010 before I got into that set of circumstances, I could feel a real change beginning to take hold.  And my body started to respond.

Now that I am past that and in a happier position, I can legitimately say this is the best of times.  I can go where I want, when I want and do as I please without having to tell anyone what I’m doing.  My hair has stopped falling out.  I’m losing weight.  I can sleep at night.  I quit my job and became self-employed, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I have had a total of one migraine headache in three months.  I have had no stomach problems and one sinus infection in that time.

Now that baseball season is here, and MLB The Show 18 is going to drop in about two weeks, I can look forward to a great summer.  I don’t have to be anywhere except where I want to be.  I plan on taking in at least a few, if not a lot, of West Virginia Black Bears baseball games this summer.  Long days in the pool.  Grilling.  Even simple things like mowing the lawn and tending to the garden.  Watching the sun set while I listen to a White Sox game on the radio with a flask of whiskey and a cigar.

I’ve bled for everyone else, I’ve done for everyone else.  Now its time to do for me.  This is the best of times.  The worst of times are behind me.  I will render them so insignificant that I hope I can eventually forget them, rather than continue to hate them.  Because life is too short to hate anything, let alone anything so truly unimportant.

In closing, the lesson that anyone who sees this should take from it is that life is much too short to be unhappy and suffering to the point of your body physically breaking down.  This is not the answer.  Suffering through the worst of times did nothing to make my life any better and at this moment in time I literally have nothing to show for it other than the hatred I have for those whom I had to deal with at that time.  But as dark as the past is, the future is just as bright, and I’m gonna live it for all its worth.

Peace, and God bless.

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Me First: Why I Like Being Incompatible With Everyone Else

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Over the years I have been called selfish, obstinate, sometimes even hateful and weird.  Not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what I don’t do; I don’t “fit in” with most people.  I see absolutely nothing wrong with this.  I am true to myself, and I am true to what I love.  Because at the end of the day, I have to live with myself, and I don’t have to live with anyone else.  So, the idea of altering anything about myself to try to “fit in” with someone else is not only phony, it’s disgraceful.  But a lot of people seem to do it.

Relationships have been dreadful for me,  for this very reason.  I have never had anything in common with anyone I’ve been in a relationship with.  The closest would probably be my girlfriend in high school, and what we had in common could be counted on one hand.  I mean, we liked to watch “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and we were both big Garfield marks, and we liked a few similar movies, but other than that, nothing.

My most recent relationship, though.  Whew.  I was in a relationship for a few years with someone that, I can say with all honesty, had nothing in common with me other than the fact that we both ate food and breathed in oxygen.  You couldn’t have found two more mismatched people if you sat me down beside a cannibal from New Guinea.  This woman was many years older than me, which meant we were dealing with a generation gap, but it was in the wrong direction.  She wanted to be “hip,” so she told me once that “anything (movies, music, TV shows, etc.) older than two years old is garbage.”  I, meanwhile, hate most everything current and crave classic music, movies and shows.  So, the upshot of this is we spent every evening watching two different TV’s, or doing everything we did apart from each other.  Most times, not even in the same room at the same time.  It was beyond ridiculous, and stupid.  It was a complete waste of time for both of us.

In situations like those, you can choose to stay with this person who brings nothing positive into your life, and its basically like having a hanger-on because a lot of times they keep you from doing things you enjoy in life just because they don’t like it.  This has been a consistent problem for me.  And a lot of it is based on the fact that I am selfish and obstinate.  I am not changing for anyone.  Isn’t the fact that you would need to change who you are to fit someone else being completely dishonest to yourself?  Why do that?

Here are some examples of me being “obstinate” and “selfish:”

1.  I am a Chicago White Sox fan living in North Central West Virginia.  I am an island unto myself in that respect.  This area is Pittsburgh Pirates country, since I live around 90 miles from “The ‘Burgh.”  So, naturally, anyone I meet who is a sports fan will ask me “why are you a White Sox fan” and “why are you not a Pirates fan?”  Well, because that’s who I am.  I started following the White Sox in 1991.  I’ve invested nearly 27 years of my life into my team, not to mention thousands of dollars.  I’m not about to throw it all away just because there are no other White Sox fans in my area.  That’s not being true to me.

2.  I like classic movies and TV shows, and I haven’t watched anything really “current” since the mid-1990s.  Also, I never watched “Friends” or “ER” or “Seinfeld” or any of the shows that everyone else seems to have spent their lives watching.  I also don’t watch anything currently on TV, other than White Sox games on MLB.TV.  People look at me with disbelief and disdain when I mention “no, I don’t watch ‘Game Of Thrones’ or ‘I don’t watch ‘The Walking Dead.'”  This is amusing when I meet people who begin conversations with “oh, my God, did you see…” to which I can shut them down right there and say “no, I didn’t.”  Ask me who won the White Sox game.  That, I know.

3.  I’m my own man and don’t need anyone to “complete” me.  I can enjoy my own company, ad infinitum.  I’ve really never experienced this concept of being “lonely” because I have so many things that I enjoy doing, and that are things I do alone.  I don’t need anyone’s “help,” because nine times out of 10, it’s more of a hindrance than anything else.  I’m not saying I’m not appreciative of people wanting to help in certain situations, but most of the time I prefer to do things myself and do them in my way.

4.  I’m happiest when I am in solitude.  When I can think.  When people aren’t yelling at me or trying to make me do things I don’t want to do, or screwing up my schedule and ruining my day.  I rarely ever ask anyone for anything.  I wish that were the other way around sometimes.  And I’m not talking about friends asking friends for an occasional favor, I’m talking about a constant stream of noise and directives and demands.

Looking at it from an outside perspective, I think I would be hard to live with.  Of course, I have never been in love before so that could make a lot of difference in how I would feel about the situation.  If I loved someone, maybe I could make some adjustments.  But just from looking at me and where I stand now, I just like things the way they are, and I don’t need any interference.  And because I like things this way, I see no reason that I would need to change them, whatsoever.  As Sammy Davis, Jr. sang, “I gotta be me.”

Ultimately, I have no issue growing old alone and enjoying my own company.  In the event that I would ever meet someone who has more in common with me than those I have dealt with previously (and that wouldn’t take much), I might have an interest in looking in that direction.  I also have no trouble with social dating, a night out, dinner and a movie, with a girl who I may have absolutely nothing in common with because when the night is over, she can leave and my life continues, nothing has to change.

In closing, I just want to say that there are more important things in life than whether or not you are compatible with other people.  Be true to yourself first.  If you never have anything in common with anyone, that means that you are more unique than the people you are dealing with.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  There’s a world out there, just because you are an army of one doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.  I’ve had dinner alone, watched movies alone (in the theater and at home) and that’s just part of my every day life.  You should live it.  Enjoy it.  Because you will always have yourself to share it with.

Peace.