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Simplicity, Slowness, and Sobriety


a photograph i snapped on film over a year ago. it reminds of me of slowness, relaxation, and good company.


It's Monday evening, January 8, 2024. A lingering itch to perform has been nagging at me all day long. There are no shows on the calendar at the moment, which I feel fine about. I've noticed they tend to come in spurts. There are pieces of my life which ground me and I am not as willing as I once was to risk or sacrifice stability in order to play more. I don't really understand how local acts play out so much. Maybe they have day jobs. My availability is pretty limited, and while I feel discouraged at times, I know that no phase of life lasts forever. Right now, I'm focusing on getting back on track financially. I'm enjoying a clean house which I inhabit alone. I'm trying to stay active in the ways that I can. Making music, podcasting, blogging, etc.


Speaking of which, I released a new episode of my podcast featuring Zachary Sun the other day. I'm not sure if anyone's listened, but it was a delight to have him on, and I thought we covered some interesting ground with regard to music and creativity. For those of you who don't know, Zach is my best friend and we collaborate on music together often. He and I have been through a lot together, and I thought he did a fantastic job communicating about his musical process among other things. I'd like to do more with the podcast this year. We'll see. I need to figure out how to grow the listener base more.


Overall, I am in a good place. Last week was difficult (emotionally), as were previous weeks, but I'm coming out of it. My life is very simple, however complicated I can be. I work 4-5 nights a week. I play guitar a lot. I hang out with my partner. I day-dream about the future. I walk around my neighborhood. I smoke on the fire escape. I watch basketball and comedy. I'm enjoying the simplicity while also acknowledging the restlessness which tends to creep in whenever life feels uneventful. Right now, simple is what I can handle. Besides, there's a whole world of self discovery and creativity constantly happening right beneath the surface. Perhaps that's why I need so much time and space in my life. Maybe I need a slower pace. Maybe it compliments the artist in me.


The other night, I had an interesting experience. I was closing down the restaurant with my colleague, and as we polished glassware, she asked me this question (and I'm paraphrasing slightly): "Do you ever take time to appreciate how far along you've come in sobriety?". I thought about it and said, "Not so much anymore". She went on to recognize and congratulate my sobriety from a very earnest and compassionate place. It caught me off guard, and I began to cry. I realized it had been a long time since I felt proud of myself. I confided in my co-worker about how hard it was through the holidays not to drink or use and how many times I have thought to do so. I guess I was so busy feeling guilty about these urges that I neglected to appreciate the strength it took to resist them. The whole interaction left me feeling encouraged and uplifted and maybe even a little disoriented. And it served as an important reminder that I am in fact an addict. There have been moments I have doubted or questioned this fact, but when I recall really what my life looked like when I drank, when I think of the innumerable relapse dreams, when I reflect on the many times I have fantasized about a drink during an upsetting day, then I am reminded of how deceptive and real my addiction is.


So, today I am proud. Proud and grateful. I have my guitar and my voice, a good job, a cozy (and clean!) home, a ton of really good friends (and colleagues), and I have managed to not take a drink for almost two and half years now. As a mentor once said to me, "You are exactly where you're supposed to be".


I am hopeful for more musical adventures and successes, and I look forward to sharing pieces of my day to day life here for those who would like to stay updated. If you feel so inclined, feel free to navigate to my podcast (Unkempt with Ashton York) to hear my conversation with Zach as well as a new and unreleased song.

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