At breakfast the other morning with a few friends, I told them I was thinking about finding work in marketing and working on a resumé.
I told them about how lately I am having a really hard time feeling like playing the saxophone for a living and how it seems like it would be easier if I had some other source of income.
One friend, who I will refer to as Libra, said, “Are you sure it’s not just your mindset?” She’s a Libra so I was like psssh of course you’d say some shit like that. Then she goes, (I’m paraphrasing) “If it’s your mind that is causing you to feel this way, it won’t matter what line of work you’re in; a new job will not magically solve your problems. And, knowing you Jake, you’d hate answering to a boss. It would probably just turn out like the last job you worked except even worse.”
And, hit kind of hard by this comment and the truth in it, I had a cup of coffee that afternoon to cope (my first cup in a few days; I’m trying to quit because I don’t want to depend on drugs to find my happy). I felt a little better. I was able to go on with my day and put in some serious playing time on the saxophone and made some money, had fun, and got quite a few Instagram followers.
I thought, “Goddamn, maybe I should just drink coffee everyday and forget about being free of all chemical influences.”
Then I thought, “Well, my family does have a ton of mental illness in it: my mother, my brother, my cousins, depression, anxiety, bipolar, a story about a distant aunt shooting herself in the head with a shotgun... and a lot of them are on some combination of psychiatric medication, if not all the time then periodically.”
I thought, “Is it time to see a psychiatrist and get some antidepressants for myself?”
But my whole thing is I DON’T WANT TO BE DEPENDENT ON DRUGS, and I think back to a point when my mother was unable to get the drugs she needed and crashed her car, lost her job, lost her mind, lost her memory, almost burned the house down, and a bunch of other horrors. What if I come to depend on drugs and then for some reason I can’t get them? That would be fucked.
I mentioned this family-mental-illness situation to my Libra friend and she said she had tried antidepressants before and that her family also has a pretty deep history of mental illness. She told me that for her, the only thing that really works that isn’t drugs is regular exercise—like 30+ minutes of cardio every day—and meditation.
Now… I think about my life and times when I’m cool with everything and times that I’m not, and times that I’m cool with everything almost always either involved a lot of self-medicating (mostly with some combination of weed, alcohol, caffeine, or Adderall) OR a lot of physical exercise. Sometimes both, but usually I haven’t felt much need for drugs when I was really running and hitting the weights.
Taking my friend’s experience into account, it would probably be best if I worked out everyday if I want to make the kind of progress that I believe deep within me I am capable of. This feels a little daunting, but I actually love lifting weights (I especially love the tedium of methodically noting what I do, how many reps, how much time it takes, etc.) and running. I also love eating all the food that I get/have to eat when I am training and pretty much only getting sexier because of it.
I also think about the heavy hitters in this reality and how—almost without exception, whether they are entrepreneurs, athletes, actors, writers, thinkers, performers—all the badass motherfuckers at the top of the game are working out. I want to be like them. I honestly want $120,000,000. That’s like superpower goals. But how am I gonna get superpower goals if I’m depressed?
The answer is: I WON’T BE ABLE TO. But, if I can keep from being depressed by getting shredded as fuck, then I’m down to try. Thank you Libra for being my friend and helping me see something I was pretty much unaware of.