I was a very driven person for many years. For like 30 years. I had this almost desperate desire to make something of my life. To BE somebody. To be a “success” (whatever that meant). To have a great career, a home, relationships, love, sex, pleasure, money, enlightenment. I wanted it ALL. And I wasn’t pissing about.
I was still at it, highly driven like that, all the way to 2009. I was working like a dog to finish and publish my ACID HEROES book. Which I was convinced was going to be my masterpiece. And after that, I recorded and pressed up copies of a CD of a People’s Park anniversary show. And I was still working full-time at my 25-cent book vending table gig (which was a very grueling job). So I was grinding away non-stop. Day after day.
And then, around Thanksgiving of 2009, its like I had a complete nervous breakdown. Everything collapsed. My best friend Duncan died. My book was a bomb. And my vending table gig ended.
It was like everything I had been working for, for all those years, had amounted to nothing. And I was back to zero.
So I got on a Greyhound bus and visited my little sister in Arizona for a couple months. To try to get some kind of perspective on all the mind-warping experiences I had gone through in Berkeley. And to try and come up with some kind of inspiration for What I Should Do Next. Hoping for some kind of Plan B.
And I remember one night in 2010 hanging out with my little sister at her house. And we’re drinking and talking and smoking cigarettes (we had to go out to her backyard for the cigarette breaks, she didn’t allow smoking inside her house). And I remember at one point I just started crying and crying. Really losing my shit. Having a complete nervous breakdown. One of those embarrassing scenes where you’re blubbering and wailing and you got snot coming out of your nose and all that. My little sister offers me a kleenex to sop up the tears. She’s known me since I was 2 years old, she’s known me for over 50 years. So she knows what I’m like. Its just me being me. So she’s not particularly unduly concerned. Its just me having a nervous breakdown. “Lets go out back for another smoke,” she says, after I come back down to earth.
And then I got on a Greyhound bus and moved back to Berkeley. And I never really came up with any answers. You often don’t. You just keep plodding forward, one step at a time. But I was no longer so “driven,” that’s for sure. And would mostly spend the next 8 years quietly sipping on my beer, and feeding a bunch of feral cats in the Berkeley hills.
And that’s pretty much where I ended up. Right up to this exact moment in time and space.