Roadtrip Confessions – Ultimate Happiness.

http://soundcloud.com/hobbes2485/sets/roadtrip-confessions-ultimate

Stop. Don’t listen to this if your going to be judgmental. I am by all means capable of taking all the sticks and stones thrown in my direction, but I’m warning you in respect for your own time. Don’t bother with it. Doing something malicious with your time instead of hugging your children or complementing another is not fair to yourself. I know that my blog, photos, and what I write have reached someone. That is enough for me to keep going. Impacting someone, to me, is very rewarding and hopefully someday, I will impact more.

I absolutely hated being in the military. Don’t get me wrong, being near Savannah/Charleston, driving an M1A1 Tank, Shooting a 120mm gun (for the first time), and making a few friendships was about the extent of what I enjoyed. However, what I took from enlisting are life lessons that I carry with me. Possibly never realizing that I had grown, considerably. Traveling, being a minimalist, eating what is offered to me, respect, the ability to function without life’s material objects (including daily showers), honor. And two of the biggest factors: 1. Appreciating what you want in life. You make very little decisions for yourself in the military. 2. Being able to live and cope by myself.

I drove from Portland Maine to Erie Pennsylvania (nearly 11 hours) in a downpour. I had a lot on my mind and things were popping up and I couldn’t write them down. So, I naturally recorded me talking. It was initially meant for notes to write my next blog, but I did not stop. That’s how I know I can write. When I sit down to write, my fingers never stop. They just know what I want to say. I’m not going to lie, I talk to myself occasionally and the rain, coffee, and fruit loops among little sleep had contributed to it. I’m sharing this because I think someone out there is going through what I am. All in all, we are all very similar. We just don’t know it yet.

(This isn’t staying up that long)

Obviously I am not a public speaker and I apologize for using “like” You know”, etc all the time. Just realize that this was intended to be used as notes.

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The Stepford Maumee

I am 14 hours, 17 minutes and 851 miles away from the place I call home. I voluntarily missed my first flight (see Changed my Maine) ever. Over a month ago, I had envisioned myself to be somewhere in Myrtle Beach and although that ticket was not purchased with intentions that have led me to cancel, it did make me realize that I am the only one in this world that can guarantee my own happiness. Not my mother, or father, friends or siblings and especially any girlfriend. So, I ran away. Again. Naturally.

Six months ago, I ran far away from home to Wyoming. I diagnosed myself with a broken heart and the only cure was to try to discover myself in one of the most remote places in the entire country. Nearly six months since then, I did it again. My heart is completely broken with the loss in faith. (F’ing show me that fate and hope exists.) Stop making my eyes bloodshot from not sleeping. My clothes dingy from being on a constant go. I haven’t touched my luggage yet. In fact, I slept curled up in my truck reading a book on Bloody Pond Road. Regardless, I’m ecstatic to be on the road because I’m running away from my hometown. I don’t believe in it anymore. It’s a superficial town that pokes fun of anyone that reaches outside of the norm. I apologize for my ramblings but I found my laptop beneath the pile high luggage that accompanied me upon my trip. I have a lot I need to say.

5am: My cat gently paws at my face for food
5:25: I feed him
5:30 Back to bed
7:30 Shower and go get coffee
8:00 Work
8:01 Hope I don’t get yelled at for some mundane incident
8:02 Wonder what I’ll be doing (I’m the odd man out due to lifers)
9:00 Annoying co-worker whistle the theme to Jurassic Park
9:15 Still whistling, but now added loud claps.
10:00 Co-workers turn on multiple tv’s. Max volume different channels. I physically can’t think.
5:00 I leave. Wonder if this “is it”.
5:30 Run
6:15 Shower
7:00 Eat
7:30 Walk
8-10 Depends
11:00 Bed

Repeat. This is my life.

Why do I go on road trips? Maumee is a ritual. Including my own faults, it is a cycle that can never be broken. I’ve tried my hardest to become happy with myself, by myself. I’m god damn close. Why? Because I am finally leaning on myself. I banked my life on another for as long as I can remember and it struck midnight years upon years ago and I’ve spent way too much of my life trying to convince people that the glass slipper belonged to me. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in trying to help kids out by coming up with an idea and getting no response at all. My requests have gone so unnoticed to the point where I want to just buy pumpkins and give them away to kids. No one donated. Not Meijer (6.4 billion), Not anyone that sells pumpkins (discount or any free pumpkins for donation). I can’t even find a spot to give them away. Maumee is Facebook and I am just as guilty. It’s a hey, hey, hey….look at me!!! What did you say; lifestyle. I’m ultimately defeated.

I met a guy tonight who was quite possibly the nicest guy I ever met. His daughter was a Boston Celtics cheerleader for a few years and she was getting married this weekend in Portland, Maine. He was from West Boston and he went to Amherst until his sophomore year when he dropped out to run from San Fran to Boston, averaging over 50 miles a day. Setting a record. He is a public speaker and talked to me for a considerable amount of time and even buying me a beer. He convinced me that running away is ok, but always run towards what you believe in. I don’t believe in anyone back home anymore. I’m not going to run away, because I’ve imagined myself in every little city I’ve passed along the way on my trip and I can’t see a different answer. I just know that I need to balance my life on my own and I have to now accept this..

Prove me wrong. Someone. Something..

Please Help. Please Read. -Thank you.

This morning was very typical. It began with my three legged cat gently pawing at my face around 5am until I would struggle to get out of bed to feed him. I proceeded to get ready for work and have just enough time to grab a cup of coffee from uptown. As I was nearing work, the morning sun was blinding my still tired little eyes. I reached for the visor and pulled it down just slightly. A set of keys fell down and landed directly into my lap. (Please read blog entry Stranded With My Morning Jacket for an explanation.) At first, I was shocked and that quickly turned into feeling like a complete idiot. However, with a simple suggestion, I felt saved. I know this may sound silly, but for some reason or another, I was not meant to drive home that night. I believe that with all my heart. I can not recall putting my keys up above the visor, let alone why I’d ever put anything up there. So much in life will go unnoticed. In a way, I think we dodge tragedy often. Even during the worst of days, I think there is an explanation that will never be explained. Waiting on a train, spilled coffee, a sick child, or losing your keys. Something that could have happened, didn’t happen. I believe something powerful happened that night. A miserable night that could have been my saving grace.

I’ve been doing better lately. Taking everything one day at a time and keeping busy. I’ve said this before, but helping others makes me extremely happy. I feel an overpowering sense of worth. Before, I’d rely on others to help me, but now I’ve realized that it’s nearly impossible to have an identical sense of motivation and desire as another. Especially at the same time and for the same causes. I have to take this into my own hands.

However, I need your help. I do. Please consider. There is so much you can do and in so many ways on several different levels. I wanted to help others and that was the obvious goal. I’ve been drawn to the idea of helping children and perhaps even with special needs. Helping a foundation in Toledo, was also an ideal objective. I want to do something anyone can do, on their own time, raise money for it, make it fun, and possibly see rewards for your actions. I came up with the concept of simply carving pumpkins and donating $10 dollars to enter it in a contest where everyone can possibly win something. All you need to do is donate $10 dollars, carve a pumpkin, take a photo of it with feedlucaschildren somewhere near it. Done.

The photos will then go on a Facebook page, and Instagram. The most likes wins prizes donated by local businesses and people from within the community (hopefully everyone gets something). From October 1st – October 28th the contest will take place. If you wish to just donate a dollar and not enter, fantastic! All profits (100% go to http://www.feedlucaschildren.org/)

Every year, more than 30,000 children in Lucas County don’t have enough food to eat. When the school year ends, so do the school lunch programs that give most of them at least one meal a day. Poor and hungry, some children are so desperate they dive into dumpsters to search through the garbage for their next meal. Many children and families living in poverty don’t know where to turn for help. “Feed Lucas County Children (FLCC) isn’t a food bank or a soup kitchen. Instead, we’re a foundation that provides children with free meals that are balanced, healthy, and hot. Our program has coordinated a community-wide initiative involving over 80 agencies to offer a safe haven, educational programs, and sports during critical summer months,” says Tony Siebeneck, Executive Director of FLCC. “During the school year, these same agencies count on FLCC to increase the number of children attending after-school learning programs.”

You can feed all the hungry children at one of our food kitchens for…
a day ($63.90).
a week ($319.50).
two weeks it will cost ($868.50).
one month ($1,405.80).
one summer ($3,514.50).
Join us in the fight against childhood hunger. Just $10 per month can feed all the children at a site for two days – and every penny helps.

My goal is to feed enough children for one month. $1,405.80. I spoke with Emily from the organization and she was ecstatic. She asked what organization I was from. I said I wasn’t. She said amazing; we’re onboard.
I desperately need sponsors and donation before the 1st of October. A coupon for a Wendy’s Jr. Frosty, University of Toledo Football tickets, Walleye Tickets, OSU, BG, A free coffee, A free meal, gift cards, a hug, ANYTHING…..anything. If you know someone that can help, please let me know. This means the world to me and I can not allow any more attempts to fall through. Let’s make a difference.

Any information, comments, etc – ericshanteau@yahoo.com

Thank you sooo sooo much! I’m sure I’m leaving out details, but I had to get the word out quickly.

Happiness is Dead Trees and Vacant Houses on Route 163.

Novelty t-shirts, aluminum bottles, gaudy beaded necklaces, tank tops, tribal tattoos, puffy painted bachelorette shirts, phallic straws, cover bands and a consistent loss of money and equilibrium due to overpriced liquor sales. I found myself at Put-in-Bay this past Saturday on what was perhaps the absolute perfect definition of a phenomenal early fall afternoon. No offense to anyone who loves “The Bay”, I find it an incredible asset to Northwest Ohio and tolerable as a yearly destination; it’s just not my cup of rum. It wasn’t when I was in my early twenties and it sure isn’t in my mid thirties. Perhaps my stimulation has declined along side my social life. Drinking a craft beer in an icy mug on a porch in Countryville while listening to vinyl records is and will always be my essential escape. I’m not sure I can relate to anyone who circles Island dates on their summer calendar. However, I understand that I do not have to. I know that having identical joys in life can be just as challenging as an array. I know that I need to continue to make compromises with my free time if it is associated with anyone I’ve deemed a friend. Just as well, I am trying to find happiness in any circumstance that crosses my path and this was a start.

I “collapsed” a few times this past week and strongly debated seeing my family doctor, but I knew that a wasted hour and twenty dollars for him to look interested and determine that I’m alive and there’s not much else they can do, would hardly change what has occurred mentally and physically for my well being. I’m convinced now that if I cough, break a leg, or have diarrhea, it’s “probably depression”. I need to take my pill and live with this label that you can’t shake once you’ve been diagnosed with it. I could not count how many times I’ve wanted to run down the street and scream out in declaration that, I’m happy! Damn it, I’m happy. It’s an F-ing “Twighlight Zone” episode living in this town. What if everyone here is depressed and I’m not? What if people in little city suburbia are all content with what lies here and my heart is just being trampled on because I know that my happiness does not coincide with Put-In-Bay trips, TCC Dinners, YMCA Family Events, hangovers and/or weight lifting. Dear lord.

Stay with me- I promise that this will not entirely be depressing.

As I woke up Sunday morning (with all my clothes still on – could be a glass half full or empty interpretation. I’m just glad to have my keys, wallet, and phone) I drove back west towards Toledo until I was a little over ten minutes from home. I circled back around. It’s nearly impossible for me to go anywhere without seeing photos in my mind. I passed so much beauty and realized that I’ve taken this for granted for too long. Unlike “The Bay”, my stimulation did not have to come from someone or something telling me that this is indeed “fun“. No glamour, lights, frills or thrills; my heart told me this makes me happy and that I need to act on it. I grew up outside of a small American city. I’ve debated (especially in the Army) that Ohio, mainly Toledo was not farmland. We didn’t all grow corn and I leaned upon the fact that we lived relatively close to the rough streets of the Motor City. I grew up and I’m sincerely apologetic to you, Northwest Ohio. In my younger days, you were the cheerleader that I had nothing in common with but chose to date. Now, you’re the quiet red head in the back of the room that is beautiful, intelligent, and someone I want to be around. Forever.

Please. Please. Please. Do yourself a favor (I want to hear from you if you do), drive past Perrysburg on rt 163 all the way through Genoa and Oak Harbor until you get to Port Clinton. Roll down the windows, pack a lunch, bring some apple cider/coffee, and sing your ass off. Put in an old mix tape/cd, or borrow my play list 500 Days of Hope on Spotify. If on a fall carefree afternoon you do not find this as amazing as I, I will personally buy you your next ticket on the Jet Express. Abandoned houses, farmers markets, silos, dead trees, barns, windmills, porches, classic cars, wildlife, cornfields, dirt roads, and with no direction home. I felt happiness and wished I could have chose to live out there. I will admit that I visualized someone coming out with a shotgun every time I took a photo, but that made me appreciate it even more. There is nothing wrong with the severity of privacy and safety in and around the livelihood of your home. This is something that I crave. My people and the simplistic lifestyle that takes me far away from the world’s longest bar and straight into God’s country.

Understanding and accepting differences is still something I need to realize as a fact. I’ll never be happy all the time in life. I just need to start making a better effort. I need to turn around and circle back if that will possibly make me smile. Narrowing down what will make me happy as opposed to searching for some generic answer will help me to overcome the sadness that I am often faced with on a daily basis.

There is a young boy named Miles Quinn Root. He appeared on my Facebook newsfeed the other day and that was basically the extent. He is a local boy who opens my eyes to life’s real struggles and what being brave truly consists of.

Miles was diagnosed with a brain tumor on April 26, 2010 at the age of 5. The tumor was fully resected on April 28. We found out it was Medulloblastoma on April 30. He suffered from Posterior Fossa Syndrome with Cerebellar Mutism a few hours after his tumor removal; this means he was unable to move the right side of his body & unable to speak. He was sent to Inpatient Therapy where a week into
improvements of gaining strength & regaining the use of his right leg, Miles’ incision leaked. Miles contracted Bacterial Meningitis & while on strong Antibiotics developed an ulcer that was undiagnosed. The ulcer hemorrhaged leading to a Cardiac Arrest on May 23, 2010. The lack of blood oxygen to his brain was compromised & Miles suffered damage to the motor areas of his brain. A week later the ulcer hemorrhaged again, leading to another Cardiac Arrest & emergency surgery to save his life. Miles finally went home on June 19, 2010, unable to move & control any part of his body. After giving him time to heal, his port was placed (along with a g-tube for feeds) & the process of fighting Cancer began. He endured 30 rounds of radiation, 9 rounds of intense Chemo, a shunt placement, 2 hospitalizations due to infections & therapies. He was officially Cancer-Free in August 2010! He still has a long journey ahead of him as he relearns to control his body & do things he was once able to do with little effort. He goes to Therapies, school in multiply-impaired classroom & appointments as necessary. He trying to verbalize, but no solid words yet. He is relearning to eat & swallow, but still uses the g-tube for the bulk of his feeds. He suffers from seizures. He is starting to hold his head up, but tires easily. We are working on getting Special Needs equipment for home & raising funds for a Special Needs Tricycle!

I want to save the world. I want to save him and do everything I can to help. This has been a burden in the past because I never felt like I was ever capable of living up to my own expectations. It doesn’t matter anymore. I no longer have to save the world, but I need to reach out and offer what I am truly capable of; making others happy. Selfishly in return, this helps me to rediscover my own. That is a miracle to me and acting upon it is something that I desperately need to focus upon. So, here’s to taking small steps towards everlasting happiness and relinquishing labels that are filled with excuses and lousy justifications as to why my smiles are so few and far between. Sometimes, just making an effort is the greatest gesture of all.

Ps.

Old Pine-Ben Howard
Sticks That Made Thunder -The Steeldrivers
California Open Invitation- The Damn Quails
Itchin’ On A Photograph- Grouplove
Take ‘Em Away- OCMS
In My Time Of Need- Ryan Adams
Either Way- Beta Radio
Oh Katrina-Anders Osborne
One Big Holiday-MMJ
Myth-Beach House
Cats And Dogs-The Head and the Heart
Midnight on the Interstate-Trampled by Turtles
Good As New- Vacationer
Hey Ho- Lumineers
24-25- Kings of Convenience
Airline To Heaven- Billy Bragg
National Anthem- Lana Del Rey
You Put The Hurt On Me- The Steeldrivers
Hell or High Water- William Elliot Whitmore
Speed Of The Whippoorwill- Chatham County Line
Where Rainbows Never Die- The Steeldrivers
Old Number Seven- The Devil Makes Three
Aces and Twos- The Devil Makes Three
I Go To The Barn Because – Band of Horses
Welcome- Hey Rosetta
Bloodshot Eyes- Trampled by Turtles
Deeper Well- Wailin Jennys
Carpenter- Huckleberry Flint
Hit Em Up Style- Carolina Chocolate Drops
Big Parade- The Lumineers
Pay Attention- Wood Brothers
Let There Be Horses- Barr Brothers
Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying- Barr Brothers
Oviedo- Blind Pilot

You’re Welcome. Enjoy the open roads..

Changed My Maine. (Get it?)

“Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Sixteen Candles”, “Pretty In Pink”, “Somewhere In Time”, and “Pretty Woman”.
In the mid 80’s to late 90’s, I was a very young teenager that had just discovered that girls were something I liked, but never understood them or why I wanted to. All I knew is that they made me shy and flushed. I grew up with an older sister, who at this point was ending her high school years and in the midst of the full fledged dating scene. Karrie was seven years my elder and I grew up watching classic fictional romance movies that to me, at that time felt more like fact. Duckie, Jake Ryan, and trying to get wine out of a suede jacket were scarred into my mind. By no means, do I watch any romantic movies voluntarily anymore. If I do, it’s my lame attempt at trying to compromise with any first date that had passed my way. I know it’s mindless, corny pitter patter nonsense that had allowed Hugh Grant to financially live a life of very little worries. There are three girls that have had a profound effect on my life. Perhaps it wasn’t exactly them, as it was the timing or situation. Firsts. I remember them all and even the one in sixth grade. This is where the story begins…

I grew up an awkward quiet child that kept to myself. My mother cut my hair by scotch taping it to my forehead and I wore a lot of Bugle Boy sweaters with a shirt underneath that would allow the collar to overlap on the outside. I was in band and got picked on for not French rolling my jeans. I could be wrong, but it was 1989 (dear lord) and I received my very first note. It was from a cute girl that played the clarinet in the very front row. I immediately assumed this is what going steady must be. We were as official as it could get. This was exactly how Andie and Blane met and if this wasn’t the beginning of a John Hughes script, I’m not sure what was. Things got hot and heavy as I received my first ever phone call. I ran into my sister’s room so I could get some privacy. I sat in the corner of the room and sprawled out as far as the two foot cord would allow. My sister was trying to give me unwelcome guidance and suggestions as she lovingly volunteered to drive us somewhere. (Perhaps Friendly’s or Ohio Skate). This was incredible.

The next week quickly came, and we broke up. Via note at my locker; I was devastated. I remember that week like it was yesterday. The ups and downs of young spirited emotions should never be overlooked. Over the years, we grew apart and went our separate ways within the small confines of the Maumee school system. The next four years were a pivotal part of my life that would not allow me to redeem myself and somewhere along the way, a big chunk of my confidence was lost, even to this day.

In 1995, my junior year in High School, I sat next to my “sixth grade” girlfriend in science class. By now, everything was forgotten and we barely spoke as clicks had taken over and we did not associate. However, around this time in my early life, I was beginning to realize that stereotypes, peer pressures, and classifications were starting to mean less and less to me as I was forming my own opinions and gaining confidence in the ones I was making. It was the last day of school, and I had her sign my yearbook. I knew that I had that school boy crush once again, but I knew that she was transferring schools and this would more or less be a fitting end. She signed my yearbook, closed it and I went home to eagerly peek within the last few pages to see what she had said. My eyes immediately glanced towards the small heart next to the seven numbers that followed. (You see kids, we did not use area codes back then). We briefly met over that summer and before she moved away, we had kissed. Over six years in the making.

I know what you’re thinking. Wow, profound. You’re crazy. I know, I’ve been told. Although, I can’t explain why but I remember these moments in my life with such great detail. This, along with the other two, gave me something that I do hold on to. I’m a hoarder of memories that meant something to me once and although it seems silly to me now, it didn’t then and I can respect that. I truly believe that when you pass away, life’s greatest moments, to you, flash across your eyes like a movie. I have those everyday. I swear.

Two years ago, and almost twenty years since sixth grade; fifteen since I last saw her or heard anything about her, she crossed my mind. I searched for her. Not in a “Something About Mary” fashion or anything nearly as intense, but it consisted of a few internet searches on social media sites that led me to email a family member. I stressed that I just wanted to know; I wanted to know she was ok, happy and living an amazing life after all these years. By no means was I trying to interfere with her life after all these years. It was just curiosity that a twelve year old needed fulfilled. I received an email back that explained that she was married, with kids and living down south. I was happy and that was all I needed. Content. They went on to explain that I should email her to just say hello and that it would be more than ok. I didn’t feel comfortable with that and quickly refused. But the longer this email address sat in my inbox, the harder it was for me to resist.

Hi.
This is Eric! I just want to know you are doing well. Hope this finds you well and please do not feel obligated to respond. Best wishes.

That was it. Almost two years had passed and I never heard anything. I was fine with that and actually, I respected it. Until…..nearly three months ago. The family member was visiting her and I came up in conversation. Long story short, she was shocked and excited. She never received my email and hearing my name again was “astonishing”. Like it did with me, it also brought back so many memories on her behalf. I was informed that she was no longer married and hadn’t been for almost a year. I was given her phone number and told to call her. Again, this seemed unreal to me. Maybe these corny movies did hold some truths that I once was gullible enough to believe. We had spoke and actually made plans to meet within the next few months. I was told I was crazy but this is who I am and what I believe in. everything seemed great until that text out of left field.

I’ve realized and have always known that life isn’t a fairytale. That texts like this are a part of life. That I can float on a cloud but need to be prepared to land on my behind. I believe that this was a small enough straw that may have slapped me in the face towards realizing that I need to just start worrying about being happy. Basic, general, standard happiness. I need to stop living out these dreams and falling hard thus crushing these fictional hopes. I had canceled my trip and plan to find something elsewhere within myself. Visiting the great Northeast and seeing the likes of Maine in the fall. In reality, I know I’m running. Like I have all year, but isn’t that what people do with ADD and heartbreak? Well, to the next great dream and my next journey towards fate and my movie ending.

God Speed.

Applying for Happiness.

In just under the past seven months, I’ve traveled to: Ft. Myers, Miami, Nashville, Atlanta, Bahamas, Salt Lake, Jackson Hole, Tetons, Yellowstone, Denver, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Bay Harbor, Toronto, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Sc and several places in between. I can’t even begin to tell you why. There was never any rhyme or reason. I only held on to hope that fate would finally run its course and explain to me why it’s taken so long to make sense of this confusion that I am so desperately trying to rid myself of as I take flight or gas up the truck. I’ve tried tossing my sadness and failure upon my beaten paths as I led my life with a show must go on mentality all while struggling to lift my head up in order to deceive a stranger of the sadness that flows throughout me. With heartbreak and mistakes in my rearview mirror, I sought after subtle signs of purpose. I’m a strong believer in an incredibly unlikely force of nature that would put me in the right spot, at the right time. Not in Toledo, or Ohio, but in Somewhereville that will hit me like a train and structure my life in a way I’ve always dreamt of. Knowing that my love and purpose in life, especially my failures were all in order to bring me to this one spot to change my life for the better. I’m still looking, waiting, and hoping…

I’ve seen some amazing things on my adventures (especially in Wyoming, where a piece of my heart still lies). However, I’ve come up short to this point. I’ve discovered myself just as much in my backyard as I had thousands of miles away. I’ve come to terms that it’s going to be a total crap shoot on when, where, and how I can capture my lifelong smile. Taking initiative, being aggressive, and pursuing life does not lead to any more answers than a knock at my door while I sit upon my living room floor alone. Either way, tragedy and greatness can occur at any given moment. This scares the hell out of me. To have limited control of certainty and my vision of how I want to shape my life is nothing but a constant worry that supplies me with nothing more than a handful of sleepless nights per week.

Not unlike my travels, my support emotionally has been just as sporadic, erratic, and unpredictable. I fear that I’ve complained and leaned upon my family and friends for far too long to receive any more undeserving sympathetic words of wisdom. To my complete surprise, I’ve received encouragement and support through the most of unlikely. I found myself opening up emails from people I have never met. I read comments on my blog from complete strangers. People that took the time to reach out to me. Not with a small simple gesture, but with suggestions and compassion. I’ve cried. A cry where I cursed my struggles and grasped onto this amazing, yet shocking joy of happiness that has blindsided me. It has been a tremendous uplifting experience to know that outside of the confines of this small family oriented city I live in, there is another world out there full of people that can relate and sympathize with this path I have been given in life. I can not put a number on how many people my words have reached, but I now know that describing my feelings with “paper and pencil” has become a welcoming remedy to understand that life isn’t necessarily easy for anyone. Struggles are just not announced within blogs for anyone to read at their free will. Everyone deals with issues and in all different capacities. I am just trying to accept this and especially mine as a reality of life.

This is just one of the messages I have received: (we have never met): I happened upon your blog thru instagram (bblue0428) and I couldn’t not leave a comment, in fear of being one of “those” lurkers. You have a gift and are such a beautiful writer. i’m not writing to give advice, but to encourage you to keep going. I read a post of yours where you talk about being a runner…a marathon runner. I, myself, am a runner. I have completed four marathons. It may sound corny but life is a lot like marathon. I am sure you remember the time consuming training, the sweat, the pain…but most of all I am sure you remember the feeling of reaching your goal, of crossing the finish line. As a fellow runner, I want to tell you to keep pushing through the pain, keep running this race. There is some for you…someone waiting at that finish line.
This, along with the others, have had a profound effect upon my outlook on finding happiness. Do not ever assume that reaching out to someone will not have an enormous impact on the stability of foundation that will enable them to eventually find balance on their own. This. Is. Priceless.

Finding happiness on a daily basis has become priority number one for me. I’ve pinned relationships, marriage, and children as possibly the deciding factor within the past few years. I know that at my age, pressure does build and places limitations that contribute to the odds of possibility. Being with someone is very important to me, however, marriage may not be something I am capable of. Marriage is a concept that was derived from religion and not a human need. I can accept this to be a factor, but society has grasped marriage and shoves it in our faces that nearly makes it impossible to ignore. Happiness comes and goes. Some days, I will love who I am and what I have become. Other days, I feel an extreme sense of failure and helplessness. Without happiness, my life is a constant struggle to do anything with priority. Paying bills, cleaning, and sleeping are just a few examples of what I am incapable of. I need to find balance in my life that will not settle for mediocrity. The mundane lessens of happiness presents itself and allows me to feel comfortable with my current stance within this life. This is my greatest desire.

I am beyond thankful to have a job and to have one that has provided me the opportunity to live a life on my own. I just can no longer accept this justification to become a permissible answer to why I do something for fifty hours a week that I find absolutely no self worth and gratitude for. (Especially when I’m salary). Does life really have to be like this? Is all work, really just work? If I was able to do something I loved, would I eventually evolve to hating that as well? Is it because nothing lies on my own terms? I’d love to write, or take photos, or travel for a living. Working for something other than just a paycheck would bring a tremendous amount of happiness to my life. Material possessions are the least of my desires, but waking up and doing something I love and making an impact on others while having the ability to have a roof over my head is my biggest goal at the moment. How can I surround myself with opportunity? Like my travels, I’ve hoped fate would suggest and lead me on this path that would never allow me to feel pain and sorrows ever again. Especially Monday-Friday.

Every male in my entire family joined the military. My Uncle was drafted into the Vietnam War, and my father did not find that fair, so he volunteered while others dodged. I enlisted directly after High School and told my recruiter that I wanted to be in combat arms, because If I’m joining, I’m fighting for my country. Although the military was not for me, I am proud to have served my country. I am a reliable and focused driven individual when it involves doing something I am passionate about. Specifics that I continually stay focus upon until I see it all the way through. School was always far too general for me and my mind wandered from the priority of a higher education to ever succeed with any book smarts. I’ll never have a degree and If I did, what gates would it have ever opened? I never found myself and I’ve never narrowed down what I love professionally. My father was a truck driver and I grew up with the notion that you do what you can, to support your family. We were a blue collar, military, factory and dirty finger nails family. We were blessed but never privileged and I was raised to understand that happiness was often secondary to a paid bill.

After evaluating this past year and all my travels and tribulations, some of my happiest moments happen here, in this city that has never allowed me an escape route towards my ultimate goals of pure happiness. Getting in my truck, rolling down the windows, and listening to “country soul” music, while driving with no direction into the country has supplied a permanent smile upon my face. Taking photos of the beauty we so often pass is something I will not take for granted. I will not overlook this moment of joy for any amount of money. The other day I was taking photos by the river and saw a fish several feet off the bank desperately gasping for life. I hate seeing anything die and I also despise touching a fish, so I had quite a dilemma. I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to free the fish from the rocks and set it up stream. I did and I also fell into the river. This made me happy. I went up to the local bar and grill by myself for dinner the other night and sat by a gentleman in his late 70’s from Denver that was here for the National Handball Tournament. We talked for an hour. I respect anyone older than me and value their advice. This made me happy.

As you can see, I know what happiness is and how even the smallest form of it makes a huge impact. I just do not want to settle with its inconsistency any longer. I need to supply myself with the opportunity to become happy every day, all day. At the very least, surrounding myself with the tools to allow myself the chance to succeed at this and in return, become happy. Allowing others to capitalize on what I was able to find and spread possibility to those around me. This is my biggest dream and I will do anything to exchange it for reality. Including a paycheck. Happiness would allow me the ultimate chance to become the individual I so desperately need in order to share my life with another. These are the roots of life and the foundation that I need to begin to step upon each and every morning from here on out. Please grant me this opportunity.

Sincerely,
Eric Shanteau