The later half of last year reformed me. I was molded and sculpted by life, and believe me, it hurt. The fall semester was brutal. I had just moved away from my hometown in Salt Lake. I left the cosy house I was living in. I left my cool ass roomies, and my best friends. I quit the job that I knew and loved. Hardest of all, I split up with my girlfriend who was an absolute gem! She was the one. But that ship sailed, and to make matters worse, I was dealing with the consequences of substance abuse. It all came to a climax. And of course, it had to happen in the middle of a really important first semester.

Well, the time came to pay my dues. And paying my dues took everything that I had in me. I dealt with chronic depression, icky anxiety, and other mental instabilities that don’t translate into words. I made an emergency trip to the hospital, landing me in a the psych ward for a couple of days. I went through a coctail of drugs that almost finished me off. And God, It just wasn’t a good time to be in school.

I had some support around me but the truth is that I had to get through it alone. No one could do the work for me. I had to get to the bottom of it, and l did. I wandered alone through the dark forest that is depression. I became well acquainted with anxiety. I made a lot of discoveries about the nature of suffering.

With everything that had gone wrong, I learned better than to make judgements about what was fair and what wasn’t. My paradigm shifted and things became less difficult to deal with. I turned to spirituality, which had been calling my name for a long time. I was helpless and vulnerable for a little while but I learned a little lifestyle trick called mindfulness. You’ve probably heard of it but if you haven’t, than Google it because there is so much research on the topic. Mindfulness has become such an important lifestyle habbit for me that I got it tatted on me so that I can never forget.

Mindfulness and meditation introduced me to the teachings of Dharma. I’ll have to leave that story for another time.

The spring semester after that my focus was laser, self worth was better than ever, and morale was so high. So much was forced to change that year, and I think of myself as a much different person now because of it. I think I’ll save spring semester for tomorrow, so stay tuned for the good part.

Erik Hight