I’ve been stressed out. Ok, I’ve been REALLY fucking stressed out. Fine, you got me- I’ve been god damn motherfucking BAT-SHIT crazy stressed out of my fucking mind and I’ve been that way for a long time. There. If I’m gunning for honesty I might as well just spill it already.
Let’s do the list: parenting two children under five, trying to be the best husband I can be, showing up every day to a job that has been slowly sucking the life out of me since 2014, starting The Ghost Generation, trying to get people to give a shit about The Ghost Generation, writing for The Ghost Generation, running social media for The Ghost Generation, trying to land interviews, working on Switch games to review, working on the house, attempting to squeeze a pathetic half hour of exercise in there somewhere, and staying up until upwards of 2 AM at least 3-4 nights of the week so I can keep up with all of the above.
Wait, that’s NOT a recipe for emotional wellness?
No, it’s fucking not. It’s a fast track to fucking disaster in fact, and there’s also the small detail of doing all this AND navigating a FUCKING GLOBAL PANDEMIC at the same time. It was tough enough BEFORE COVID-19, but now? It wouldn’t take a quantum physicist to figure out that a full-on breakdown was coming, and it did. I majestically lost my shit earlier this week, and immediately decided that I needed to make some drastic changes before I ended up destroying everything I’ve worked so hard to build.
When the world is crumbling we do NOT have to crumble with it.
I used to run A LOT. Like, at least a 10k four or five times a week, plus workouts. I ate pretty clean and maintained a weight I didn’t loathe myself too much at, and I was healthy. I meditated, a lot. Every Sunday for a long time, I would head down to Drepung Loseling Monastery for open meditation, a little soccer with the monks, and I would practice my zazen at home every day. Somehow, it started to quiet my mile-a-minute brain and I had a little bit of peace of mind.
I wrote music, even if nobody would ever hear it. I read books, I learned new shit, and while I had fallen from grace and risen from the ashes more times than I could count I had evolved into a person I liked.
Let this be a message to all: if THIS GUY can achieve some level of self-confidence ANYONE can do it.
Fast forward to 2017 and the impending birth of our son, kiddo #2. I don’t think I allowed myself the internal honesty of admitting to myself (let alone anyone else) that I was crushingly stressed out about having another child. Our families had fucked off, ditto for our friends, and we had no help. Zero. I was terrified, and if I’m keeping it super-real I was a little bit jealous of the fact that our life was revolving almost entirely around baby stuff. When we were expecting Ruby we had friends around, our families were around, and it felt like we were still somewhat autonomous of parenthood. This time, it just felt like everything we were was in waiting, and the selfish parts of me felt like I had taken the backseat and I think the shame and frustration I imposed on myself because of that took its toll too.
A couple months before little man was born, video games magically appeared back in my life and suddenly became a massive part of it. It was a new passion for sure, and before I knew it they became my go-to thing whenever free time was available. Without even really realizing it, they also became my escape from all the stress, and frustration, and everything else I was feeling at the time and before you could say “CHILL THE FUCK OUT” I was spending a ridiculous amount of time playing, and fucking stupid amounts of money on games.
Feel free to judge away if you’re perfect, I’ll gladly give you rocks to throw in your totally-not-glass house.
Fast forward a little more to last year when I started The Ghost Generation. The focus was always going to be writing raw, honest, and endearingly foul-mouthed content about life, parenting, and whatever else we felt like writing about. All would be told from the perspective of two thirty-somethings who felt like our society and culture didn’t give a FUCK about us, cause we knew there would be other people like us out there somewhere who needed to hear this shit.
Obviously, given my rabid interest, video games were going to come into play somewhere, and I naturally started throwing in reviews. What you don’t really see until you’re knee-deep in it, is that in order to write about games you have to fucking PLAY the god damn things too. So again, before I was really even cognizant of it, video games took up ALL of my free time and even some of my non-free time too.
“It is not a habit, it is cool, I feel alive”- K’s Choice
I’m not necessarily saying I’d inadvertently become addicted to video games, but I’m also not saying I didn’t either. I don’t know. I was lucky enough to narrowly escape getting hooked on any of the drugs I did, but this was different somehow. This motherfucker took hold. I was working on games in my office so I could keep up, I was skipping workouts, I was drinking two fucking Rockstars a day, I hadn’t read a book since before Donald Trump was President, I wasn’t fucking sleeping, and I just kept fucking going.
The worst part of all of it, was that I wasn’t even realizing that my wife, my best friend, and the love of my life and I were becoming more and more distant and non-communicado as time went on. If I was sitting still my fucking Switch was in my hands. As soon as she got tired, I was in another room playing until my head slumped over. I was still technically DOING everything I needed to, and even writing shit I was proud of for this wonderful little website, but I was suffocating myself and if I WAS conscious of it I wasn’t listening to myself.
One of our greatest failings as human beings is to allow ourselves to live for escape. Life is everywhere, to be lived, not ran from.
Final fast forward to earlier this week. The Ghost Generation has been around for almost 9 months now and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve managed to do with it so far. That being said, I’d be a liar if I said any fraction of it was easy. Trying to get people to pay attention to this has been an incredibly taxing and frustrating journey, and maybe I was naive to think that it would take off just cause I wanted it to. I was used to building followings for bands, musicians, etc. Building a following for a blog though? Fuck. It’s a constant uphill battle for people’s attention, and it’s been something I’ve struggled with- hard. Gaining followers, checking analytics, and realizing the sobering fact that maybe nobody is gonna give a fuck has been astronomically tough on my spirit. I (along with FemaleGG) pour EVERYTHING I am into every word I put on this site. It’s my fucking DREAM to be able to turn this into my living, start selling merch to a rabid following that cares about what we have to say, all of it. Right now? I feel like I’m pulling teeth just to get 20 readers a day, that’s just the god damn fuck-it-all honesty of it.
It’s been fucking with my head, especially when I see the massive follower counts of people on social media who do nothing but post pictures of their fucking cats all god damn day. What the fuck am I missing? Who knows, and the truth is, who fucking cares? I’m not the kind of guy that cares about that shit, but because I want to turn this into something bigger I HAVE to care now. It’s been weighing heavy on me lately, so add that into the astronomically uncertain time we’ve found ourselves living in, and it all got to be too much.
Time to cut some shit loose.
A few days ago, Monday to be precise, I went running for the first time in a couple weeks. I’ve gotten a little out of shape and put on a few unwelcome pounds so running hasn’t been real fun for the past few months, but I decided to just fucking get out there. I ended up running for almost two solid hours, and it hurt. It also felt fucking BRILLIANT at the same time, and while my shins hurt my soul was happy. I wasn’t quite finished with my total mental collapse, but almost. I did the same thing the next day, and I also didn’t touch a video game at all.
Back when I was meditating every day, I picked up the Dalai Lama‘s book “The Art of Happiness” (also by Howard C. Cutler, M.D.) and never finished it. That was back in 20-fucking-12. Christ, I hadn’t finished a book I bought EIGHT FUCKING YEARS AGO. I picked it up a couple days ago and dove back in. Today, I ran for two and a half hours straight, even more than the day before. I’ve been catching up on movies, I’ve been throwing in a little work here and there (yuck), and I’ve been keeping my fucking snack-hands out of the pantry and eating less like a dickhead than I have in a while too.
Where the fuck am I going with this?
This part will likely alienate those of you who are only here for the video game-related shit. Thank you for your time.
I decided to give up video games, forever. Yes, you heard that right. I’m giving them up and I’m not looking back, but I’m not telling YOU that you need to do the same thing too. I have absolutely nothing but love for the gaming community, the indie dev scene, and all the people who pour their heart and souls into making great art through the medium of video games. This is my personal choice for my wellbeing, and after 4 days I’m already feeling less stress, less frustration, and less anxiety.
There is SO FUCKING MUCH content out there, it can be tough enough to keep up with all the music I want to keep up with, all the fan-fucking-tastic shows I want to check out, and all the insanely wonderful podcasts I want to listen to. More games come out in one day than I could ever play in a lifetime, and let’s not even discuss my fucking backlog. Figure in the time-destroyers like Animal Crossing, the infinitely repayable shit like Dead Cells, and it becomes an all-consuming affair. I tend to get completely sucked into the stuff I’m passionate about, but trying to stay current on video games is a whole other beast in itself.
I don’t know how some people do it, and I don’t care either. For me, it’s gotten to be too much. I’ve loved my Switch SO much, but I’ve started to feel like I’m not doing anything to push myself forward in my life. Like I said, any shred of free time was going towards games, so that meant that everything else was on the back burner. And yeah, that was starting to include time with my wife, time with my kids, and time to work on MYSELF.
If you’re not growing, you’re stagnating, and stagnant pools smell like shit.
How can I lose weight if I’m not dedicating time to exercise? How can I build The Ghost Generation into something viable financially if I’m constantly trying to play 57 different games? It’s fucking great getting games for free to review them, but there is only so much time in a fucking day. How can I achieve peace of mind if I’m not doing the things that bring it to me? I thought video games were giving me that, but I was lying to myself. Sure, some games really do help with anxiety (looking at you Minecraft and Animal Crossing), but the sheer volume of shit I have had to keep up with was starting to give me more stress than anything else. When that starts to happen you gotta rip that fucking Band Aid off, and that’s what I’m doing now.
So, here I am sitting and talking about how tough it is to build a following and I’m probably gonna alienate half of you with this news, but if I’m gonna live the life I deserve to live I have to be honest. If I keep doing something that is weighing me down just for the sake of my follower count than I’m just a fucking liar to myself and everyone else. If I don’t start doing things to elevate my spirit it is going to die, so while I hope you’ll all stick around and be a part of what The Ghost Generation will become, I completely accept the fact that I might be losing some of you in the process. It’s not like this is Earth-shattering shit here, but still- I know that some of you really dig the Switch stuff we have up and maybe you just don’t give a shit about the rest.
Sometimes you have to pay a price to make positive changes in your life, I get it. Truly, I do. All I know is that I have to fix myself so I can be a better me, and what better time than right fucking now, during a global fucking crisis.
Talk about “go big or go home”, amirite?
I feel a new sense of freedom, and while there are still hurdles to jump (the day job, the world, building an audience, learning to Google song lyrics instead of assuming I’m correct), I will be much better equipped to navigate it all with a clear head and shoulders free of the burdens that have been weighing them down. I want to get back to FULLY writing about the things I truly want to write about- life, parenting, music, this shit-show of a world we’re living in right now- and I’m beginning to think that maybe the video game shit was cluttering up the message. The message is more important now than it’s ever been, and I want to be a voice on the forefront of the revolution- not a cluttered up mess people don’t quite understand.
So maybe I’ll lose some of you, and maybe some of you will appreciate us even more now- I don’t have a fucking crystal ball so I have no idea what’s ahead really. I just know I decided to take back control of my life so I can be better and you know what? While this past few days has been stressful (finishing up a full mental collapse, parenting in a pandemic, etc.), these have also been the happiest four days I’ve had in a while and my wife and kids would probably agree with you too.
The greatest gift you can give the people you love? Be present.
That’s the fucking ticket, I’ve not been PRESENT enough in my own life. It’s awful to have to say it, but it’s true. Instead of facing my problems and worries, I’ve been escaping and I’ve been JUSTIFYING my escaping cause I’m doing it for The Ghost Generation. That shit is no bueno, and it stops now.
I’m almost done smoking which I should have never picked back up in the first place, I’m writing better, I’m running like a Kenyan meth-head looking for lawnmower parts, and I’m working my way back to that peace of mind I haven’t allowed myself to have in a long time. Meditation will happen again soon too, I just gotta get my beaten-up shins adjusted to all this running again so I can sit comfortably. It’s not even really that hard making all these changes, which leads me to believe I wasn’t a full-stop video game addict or anything. I think I just got lost for a while, and I’m one of the lucky ones- the people I love the most are still here to help me get found.
So there you have it, and I’m serious about the building a following stuff- this shit is hard, and I think we’re pretty damn good at this, so if you agree please tell people about us. Follow us on social media, leave comments, do all the things. Without your eyes and your hearts this thing won’t turn into what I hope it can, and that might be something I have to accept but I’d love to live in a world where I don’t!
You’ve seen enough pictures of other people’s cats, you’re done now.
I hope the world can turn itself around too, if we’ve ever had a chance to make this place better for all people I’m pretty sure that time is fucking NOW. We all know where we stand now, so we can either choose to stay enslaved to capitalism, greed, and lies or we can come together to forge a BETTER world. For now, I’m pretty sure we’re all just hoping to keep food on the table but rest assured- the smoke will clear one day and when that day comes I’ll be right here, ready for the revolution right along with you.
Thanks for reading, and please- stay safe, be kind, and be PRESENT.
A blog/website where these happily married, 30-something parents of 2 little minions rant, rave, and speak in tongues. Raw, honest, and riddled with profanity. Get on board and let’s make The Ghost Generation awesome together! http://theghostgeneration.com Twitter.com/Gh0stGeneration