I have always loved writing. When I first picked up the fat pencil that we use in early grade school, it felt good to me – I loved the smell of that pencil. I loved the smell of the paper, the smell of the pencil eraser as I tried to correct my inexperience with writing. Each time I received a new school book, I felt hope and promise race through my whole body, anticipating what that book would teach me. Looking forward to each new school year, the excitement that welled up inside is indescribable. My young mind was hungry, so eager to learn and discover. Each year, I would walk through those school doors anticipating something I just could not put my finger on: I tore through my new assignments and studied ahead, hoping to find something that would fill the longing I had inside, but just could not find it.
I went on to high school and studied every challenging subject available but in the middle of my sophomore year, I became very depressed and just couldn’t think the way I used to think. I still had the desire to learn but the ability to dig in, along with my drive to follow through, went away. Despite my foggy mind, I managed to graduate and was accepted into college for a computer science program – I never went. My mind was done with all that: I had one desire only, to experience life. At the age of nineteen, I was in a dead-end job, I had no money, I was miserable with my life, and tired of being a ‘nobody’. I decided to leave everything behind and start all over. I walked out of my Michigan apartment and down to the local truck stop, knocked on the first truck door I came to, jumped in and began hitchhiking to California – two weeks later, I ended up in Portland, Oregon instead. I found a job as a valet driver and bellman for a decent hotel, initially found some good friends and then fell in with the wrong social scene. Three and half years later I called my father and mother with the news, “I’m hooked on cocaine and I need to come home.” I went to the emergency room by ambulance twice in the same week from overdose and knew I had to get out of there or I would die.
I went back home and began to mend my life. I found a girlfriend who became my fiancé and after fumbling my way around for two years, enrolled in an audio engineering school at the age of twenty-five. I loved it: I worked very hard, received good grades and finished in the top ten percent of my class. My mind was working again, and I felt for the first time in years that I could look forward to a bright future. One year later my fiancé broke off the engagement and my emotional world came crashing down, but intellectually I was still in the game. I called my engineering school for job leads and almost immediately landed in Southfield, MI as a bright-eyed, eager for success audio engineer.
I was a year and a half into my new career and had life by the tail. I had a dream job that paid me very well and enjoyed a robust social life with nothing to tie me down – people enjoyed me and I enjoyed them. I worked a typical eight-hour day with relatively little stress, no bills except daily expenses, a growing nest egg and a future that promised nothing but success. Then one awful day, like the flick of a switch, everything I had worked for was ripped away. My fellow engineer and I had just finished recording a voice talent for an upcoming television commercial. He left the studio and walked down the hall toward the concession area; I finished up the paperwork and began walking down the hall toward him as he was returning. And then as if someone reached inside of me and hit the delete key, I instantly lost my ability to interact with anyone socially, personally, and relationally. When I tried to talk to him panic flooded me, every part of me. I couldn’t think of what I should do next, I couldn’t see straight, and my mind was racing. I did not want to be there; I was frightened out of my mind and left immediately.
I still don’t know exactly what happened at that moment but it did change my life: seven months later the studio let me go. In that one moment I had lost my career, my social life, piece of mind, and the ability to see with normal vision. My ability to see with depth perception and stereo vision went away, and along with it the ability to feel at ease in the presence of others. I no longer received satisfaction from idle conversation, and one-on-one interactions became impossibly painful. My mind was constantly roaring and all I could do was think; all I could think about was studying – anything, everything – while sleeping two or three restless hours each night. I studied books on mathematics, astronomy, astrology, personality, psychology, graphology, finance, physiology, neurobiology, endocrinology and computer programming – to name a few. I studied every subject with an intensity, intellectual openness, and determination, unparalleled in my past. I didn’t know what I was searching for or why I was so driven to search but was determined to find answers, and for years made every major bookstore my home away from home.
I moved around from job to job trying to keep a roof over my head, pay the bills and feed my face, eventually finding stable employment with an audio sound system manufacturer in South Carolina. I was now thirty-two years old – five years after the day that changed my life. One particular night I got into bed expecting the usual pseudo sleep, but instead, slept, awoke the next day, and realized I felt somewhat rested from my sleep – my mind finally let me rest. Around that time, I made a simple but huge request of God: “If you won’t heal my eyes, please give me insight.” I said, “I don’t want to just know this stuff, I want it to be a part of me.” One year later, I was at the same job in South Carolina and the switch flipped again, but this time in a different direction. My mind flooded with the understanding I had always wanted: it was the same understanding I didn’t know I was longing for in grade school. I grabbed a pen and a scrap piece of paper, and wrote and wrote and could not stop writing. The moment I finished transferring one thought onto paper, another would come. When my work associate came to relieve me for break, I began walking toward the break room and said out loud to myself, “I can’t lose.” The answers to all my questions just kept coming and coming with each new thought. Day after day, month after month, year after year, I wrote and wrote and could not stop writing. All that I had studied for all those years was spilling out with meaning – I wasn’t just thinking anymore, I understood! I felt true hope for the first time in my life.
One year before that life-changing moment in the studio, I was a few minutes away from nodding off to sleep while lying comfortably in my bed. I prayed to God with my first simple but huge request: “God, if you could make Solomon in the Bible wise I believe you can give me wisdom also. I am asking you for wisdom.”
I am now forty years old. I realize that although that day in the studio wrecked my previous life, I now understand what I did not then and have true reason to hope because of it – not just for myself but for my fellowman also. In losing myself, I found that truth is all that will ever satisfy. Without it, life success leaves us empty and shallow, and without meaning.
I have visited eight different eye doctors since that day in the studio, including the vision research facility at the University of Michigan, and still cannot see as I did before, but the insight that replaced my physical vision is worth more to me than life itself. The content I post on this site is a partial result of what I have learned in my new life and my hope is that you too will navigate life just a little better by what you find within these pages.