Getting Lost Is Painfully Necessary

All of us go through what St. John of the Cross calls "The Dark Night Of The Soul."  It's known by many other names.  Mid-life crisis, life changes, etc.  Whether it's leaving a job after years or ending a marriage, these changes are hard.  Sometimes they're embraced with optimism.  But most of the times, ending a job, friendship or relationship, even when it's for the best, comes with fear, sadness, guilt, depression and anger. 

I remember when my mother quit her job working as a CPA for another CPA.  For as long as I could remember, she built herself up to earn her CPA certification, but over time, she was unhappy working for someone else.  In 2005, she decided to leave her job and start her own business.  She was terrified.  I was scared for her.  From afar, I had faith she was doing what she felt was right.  But from her end, she still had three underage children, a husband, a house and one child in college to support.  She knew the risks of starting her own business, but it doesn't make it any less scary.  In 2005, I too, was going through my own change.  I was due to graduate.  Due to some very intense paranormal cases where we were working with the Catholic Church, I ended up having to temporarily drop out of college.  There was fear on how I would come up with the finances to resume my education.  My family, already giving me five years of supporting my college career, were strained.  I was scared.  I was also angry at myself for failing all my classes that semester (which forced me to drop out, so the grades wouldn't count).  Did I have a valid reason?  It depends on who you ask.  I knew I couldn't abandon the families we were helping, who were experiencing life-or-death situations.  My parents didn't understand and to this day I don't expect them to. 

In the end, my mom found the money to help me get through one final semester.  After that, I needed two more classes to graduate.  My loans and credit already pushed to the max after 5 1/2 years of loans, I had a couple friends who did something for me that I'll never forget.  They helped me secure the loans/money I needed for my final semester.  On top of that, I started receiving speaking offers from colleges and the timing couldn't have come at a more needed time.  I was able to quit working at a restaurant to devote my time solely to my college work and PRS.  I graduated in 2006, and as many of you know, my dedication to PRS paid off when we landed a documentary TV series, Paranormal State.  Finally, I was getting paid to be a paranormal investigator.  That was never my plan or goal, to star in a show.  But over the years we tried to pursue options that would allow for the society to bring in income so it could grow and be self-sustaining.

My mother knew that most businesses take about 2 years to grow.  In my end, if you consider PRS from the business front, it took about 4-5 years.  Within a year, my mothers business was growing.  Her first year was slow.  After all, tax season is the grand finale of CPA work.  After that, most CPA's tend to have a few months of a low period.  Just as CPAs have their own "seasons," so did we. 

I have many memories where I feared for my future and the future of PRS.  I wondered if it was all in vain.  If I was choosing the wrong path.  It felt right at the time, but all the same, why did it feel that the right path was so punishing and unfulfilled?  PRS was turning into a full time job, but right before the show offer came, income was scarce and unreliable.  The speaking engagements were primarily for October.  Once October was over, then what?  I'd have to make that income float.  My first year on the speaking circuit, I only secured 2 or 3 speaking gigs.  For someone still in college, it was more than enough for me to get by, but for the first time, I was faced with the adult challenges of budget planning.  It was hard to earn respect from anyone in my family who saw me as using my college time to pursue "ghost busting."  And I saw some of my more academically studious friends receive job offers in their respective studies.  I knew I had a strong chance at being hired for a career in journalism, but I hadn't put many feelers out.  I wrote for the local papers here and there.  With my busy schedule, I made time to "freelance" both online and in print.  And I even interned for two papers over the summer.  One of my college professors expressed interest in hiring me for a major newspaper, where she served as one of the editors.  But PRS took over my attention.

I suffered from extreme depression and fear that year, in 2005.  First, at the realization my college career was coming to a close, then fearing that I may not graduate.  And once I had one final opportunity to finish college, the fear of what happens after graduating returned.  It felt like I blew my chances of using college to build myself up.  After all, the point of college is to prepare for the working world.  For me, I pursued my interests.  At times, it felt like my interests pursued me.  PRS wouldn't let me leave, I often joked. 

At the end of 2005, we received a pilot offer from A&E, which alone was a success.  During my final semester for my first degree, we filmed the pilot.  In May 2006, I graduated.  And then, there was a whole period of "now what?"  I had money to re-enroll and finish work on a second degree, which many people found silly to pursue.  It was something I really wanted to do, and in all honesty, it gave me a distraction while we waited to hear if A&E would offer a TV series.  After months of silence, and fall coming around the corner, fear really set in when suddenly we got the call.  We were getting a TV series.  At least, an order for a first season.  It was a whole new ball game, but at the very least, I had the next year planned out and something exciting to pursue. 

After we finished shooting the first season, we went through a straight-up six month waiting period.  We shot the last episode at the end of February.  There was no definitive date on when the show would air, although we were told January of next year.  For me, that was an eternity.  I continued taking a few classes, and once again found myself in the waiting period.  In August 2007, we got word that not only would the show debut that December with a large PR campaign, but we were greenlit for an additional 7 episodes.  After all that stress, once again, there was something that came around the corner. 

And then... another waiting period.  After 1 1/2 years of working on the show, it debuted December 10th, 2007.  Suddenly, we were famous.  But each week we held our breath in hoping that the high ratings would stick.  They did, but we still had to wait on word to come from the powers-that-be on whether we'd get another season.  I remember struggling financially around the time the series came out.  We didn't get paid very well that first season.  And that money had to stick during those long periods of not getting anything.  By December, I didn't have money to buy Christmas presents.  My family didn't care, and they were excited for me, but they were supportive in finally starting to understand the nature of TV.  I was just starting out. 

Once we got the greenlight for the second season, finally I entered a period of security.  At the same time, my moms business was finally stable, and she even hired a couple employees.  After the success of the second season, we continued to get orders for the next season while we were still shooting or working on the current season.

I have no doubt I could've done Paranormal State for 8,9 or maybe even 10 seasons.  But come 2011, I had evolved from the focus of a TV show, to its executive producer.  I was also developing other specials and even financed an independent movie.  We received offers from places to buy the documentary film concept, but ultimately we felt that the only way the movie could be made is if we kept complete creative control. 

By the end of our fifth season, I was burning out.  There was internal fighting everywhere.  Money became the focus for some, others just couldn't take the crazy lifestyle and schedule.  For me, my heart just wasn't in it anymore.  Let me be clear, I love what we did.  I'm proud of State.  For my young age, I did my best to do something I believed in.  I wasn't the best politician or diplomat.  Many people compare me to that of an idealist.  I tried to work and adapt as our work changed.  On the production side, a TV show needed to be made.  And in order to do that, there were needs.  Each case had to make enough sense for the editors to cut it into an interesting episode.  On the PRS end, we wanted each case to maintain the integrity and purity of a real PRS investigation. 

The public life was something for which I had no preparation.  To this day I still have trouble comprehending it.  The duties and responsibilities that came with being on a TV show (needing to be available to promote it, which in turn makes you a celebrity, which is most definitely a profession... you have to learn how to do live interviews, how to speak quickly and on-poiint, how to see opportunities to push that career and projects forward, etc.) were bizarre.  And it definitely led to a whole other side to our work: reaching out to and maintaining our fan base.  We held fan events, public lectures, sold merchandise, etc.  And October became hell on earth due to the demand a few of us received.  I was speaking at a different college every day for a couple weeks.  Every year, I finally had to set a cap with my speaking agent on how many I could do that October so I wouldn't burn myself out. 

At the end of 2010, I think everyone close to me could sense that I was burning out all around.  I hardly slept, relationships between myself and production and cast were strained, as well as my personal life.  TV work is hard.  It isn't an 8-5.  There were times when I'd barely get 3 hours of sleep a day for a period of weeks.  And there were some on the production side who got even less sleep.  At the end of every season, we were all almost on the verge of not being on speaking terms.  But after a couple months off and rest, we'd resume talking and laugh when looking back at the drama's and problems of the previous season.  With every new season, the previous season problems seemed so trivial. 

But during what would be the final season, I couldn't see straight.  And I found myself struggling to make a serious decision.  Would I even return for another season?  Over Christmas break, I thought about it every day.  By then, after five seasons, I was aware that the end of each season was always stretching us to the near breaking point.  But this time, it felt different.  Even one of the clients for what would be our second-to-last episode asked me, on camera (even though it didn't appear on the show) if my heart was still in this work.  "I don't know you except from watching you on TV," he said, "but it just feels like you're different.  It feels like you're not here, or you're disinterested."  I assured him it had nothing to do with their case.  This was mostly true.  Their case was, from my point of view, a light one.  Not a whole lot going on.  We had a 3-week break for the holidays and then returned to work to complete the final two episodes in January.  Even after that break, I was still exhausted.  And I just felt unwelcome.  Things were tense.  I love and appreciate what everyone did for that show.  From season one to the final season.  Ultimately, I realized that I just couldn't do it anymore.  I did overload myself that year.  I finished my first book, produced a TV special, then filmed 20 episodes of State, as well as taking October off in order to promote the book, series, special and tour colleges.  Even though we weren't shooting in October, I was just as busy as I was when we were shooting.  I couldn't see straight. 

I informed production and the network that I wouldn't be returning after talking with my manager, my team and family.  Surprisingly, my mother was supportive of me walking away, despite the fears of "what next?"  Would there be another opportunity?  Did I even want to do another paranormal show?  I had no idea.  But I knew at that moment I couldn't.

It was heart-breaking when I made the announcement.  I was sad because I loved the show and what it stood for (and still stands for).  I imagine it's how my mother felt when she decided to leave her job and pursue something else. 

I didn't have much time to think about the future after we wrapped the show, because Chad Calek and I decided to finally push out the film we made, American Ghost Hunter, with a 41-city tour.  I've done a week or two of promotions here and there.  But 41 cities... a new city and a whole crowd of fans every day, killed me.  I love my fans.  They are some of the most loyal fans for a show I've ever witnessed.  I'm blessed that even to this day, that fanbase is massive.  But it's hard to be "on" every day for that many days.  And contrary to belief, I'm actually a quiet, semi-shy guy.  I don't like to go out to bars or clubs on a regular basis.  I prefer a more intimate setting with close friends, or occasional outtings.  And this tour heavily relied on my presence to promote and bring the fans to view this film.  The tour was a success, but once again, I found myself burnt out.  This time on another end.  It was clear I could've spent the next couple years touring the world heavily, something I'd finally have time for.  But after 41 cities... I was desperate for a break more than ever.  And the tour definitely put a strain on my relationships with everyone on the tour.  It's natural.  After all, you're bringing people together who otherwise see each other here and there, and now we're living on a massive tour bus for six weeks.  The tour ended in mid-September 2011.  Chad wanted to do a winter tour, and I declined. 

After the show ended, I parted ways with many people I worked with.  Some of us built a strong friendship during the show that we continue to keep in touch.  Not long after I ended touring for the movie, a major scandal erupted in my own town.  I'm talking, of course, about the Penn State child abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  A name that, whenever mentioned, makes my heart fall to the pit of my stomach every time I read, hear or think about it.  I found myself being contacted by some of the victims of the abuse, much to my surprise, who were willing to talk to me as a journalist because they were told from mutual friends of friends, that I would be ethical and was someone they could trust.  I was by no means brought in to be their puppet journalist.  But after I witnessed, first-hand, the hawkish practices of all major journalists who wanted to get "the next big scoop," I understood why they were distrusting of the press.  The behavior I witnessed from reporters, including The New York Times, shocked me.  Their insensitivity towards the victims and their only desire - to get the story - was causing its own damage to them and the community.  And suddenly, I found myself being viewed to the outside world as one of the public Penn State representatives.  I was, after all, one of the more famous students to come out of Penn State in that time.  Paranormal State consistently reminded people that I was a Penn Stater.  The show regular featured shots of Penn State, logos, scenes on campus and in downtown State College.  As much as our show was about paranormal investigation, State College/Penn State became a character itself on the show, as being the home to PRS, and therefore, Paranormal State (it's not coincidence that the shows title is similarly structured to that of Penn State).  I got into Twitter fights with celebrities and other people making wild and unfair accusations about the Penn State community as a whole.  Some accusing the entire Penn State community of covering up the sex abuse.  That would make it one of the greatest and largest cover-ups in American history... to have over 100,000 students, employees and alumni all in on this secret, which obviously was and still is absurd.  People knew Joe Paterno as the face of Penn State, and many people incorrectly thought Paterno and Sandusky were the same person.  Therefore, they thought that Paterno was the sex abuser and called for his resignation.  The debate rages on over how much Paterno knew about the abuse.  I've read the reports.  I've met these people (including Paterno), and I've lived in this town for 13 years now.  It's my opinion Joe Paterno was unfairly propped up to be the scapegoat by the public, and even from within the university.  For me, I saw this as a completely unfair distraction that took away from the immediate concern: Sandusky and the well-being of the victims.  After all, the trial had yet to start and already there were fallouts.  The craziness that happened here was so unbelievable that yes, it could make for its very own movie.  And not just one.  You could make quite a few focusing on different parts of the scandal, and I suspect over the years that's exactly what will happen.

I got too close to some of the victims, and once I recognized this, I bowed out of reporting, and handed it over to a reporter from NPR I grew to trust.  But the pain that I witnessed from the victims of the abuse and then from the victims of the media, became too much.  I found myself falling apart with them, and I was just a bystander.  I had my own nervous breakdown.  My doctors felt I needed to drop it all and go home down south for the holidays.  Even they thought I was getting too emotionally involved with the scandal, and clearly I wasn't taking it well.

Come Christmas 2011, it was nearly one year since I exited Paranormal State, and I still found myself floating, wondering what my future held.  What did I want to do?  There was talk from HarperCollins about me writing another book.  I was eager to pursue another one and we discussed it for a while. 

2011 was a tough year.  After the show ended, most of the cast members moved on to pursue life beyond State.  In a way, I felt blamed by some who felt I stood in their way to success.  After all, Paranormal State is, at the end of the day, a show that documented my life and my investigations.  When we started the show, no one had any aspirations of doing a paranormal TV show.  Katrina and Heather were cast (with my final approval) as trainees, and they later stayed on.  I had final say over who my investigative team would be, although I regularly struggled to find a balance with how many investigators I could bring with me, etc.  But in terms of career, the show was centered around myself.  Not something I expected nor imagined, but that's how it turned out.  In the TV industry, there aren't any guarantees.  Everyone went to college to major in something.  We were all lucky to get the opportunity, but all same, I created PRS and I understand (at least now) why I was the anchor for the show.  I was in denial about it for quite some time.  It was also a lot of responsibility.  But over the years, like with any show or company that finds success, greed and resentment often follow.  Not everyone succumbed to this, nor am I claiming I am saintly, but enough time has passed on to make peace with the fact that some of the fallouts and parting of relationships were due to money and the fame/TV status.  Some felt upset that I seemed to hold all the political power, and I suppose I did.  I did my best to make sure the team was taken care of whenever I renegotiated, but all the same, success breeds jealousy.  And once the show was over, I continued to receive offers whereas most did not, and some, I believe, felt compelled to hold that against me. 

As some of you may know, in 2012, I discovered that I was sick, and I never had any intention of any of that becoming public, but it was something that was hard to keep private.  It's something that, to this day, I do not like talking about.  But I will say this.  I went through a lot in my young life, and by mid-2012, I took enough hits to feel I was knocked to my knees.  I was lost, and suddenly my future was even more uncertain.  I didn't handle these problems well.  In fact, I admit I ran away from them.  On top of that, I had some personal life issues that also surfaced.  These "issues" have been speculated amongst fans over the years, and at first I felt a lot of emotions over seeing how quickly people who had a vendetta against me came out of the shadows to attack.  It was as if they smelled blood, and they couldn't resist the opportunity.  These attacks were nothing more than bitter, resentful bad-mouthing gossip.  Whatever I was going through, I don't believe anyone can consider themselves my friend if they chose to talk about my personal struggles, real or speculative, for their own gain.  They were aware of what they were doing.  In the end, these attacks were personal and meant to hurt, and for a short time they did.  I'm human.  Of course it bothered me.  But life moves on.

Over the next couple years, I struggled to find the motivation and strength to move forward.  I felt stuck.  I moved to North Carolina, with the intention of getting the right medical help and being closer to my family.  I also wanted a change of scenery after so many years in State College.  The day after I moved from State College, I immediately missed everything about the town.  I felt even more alone, isolated and lost.  Originally, before my health took a turn for the worse, there were plans to move to North Carolina to build a newer, bigger PRS.  We had plans to build our own online network, and virtual opportunities via the net were very profitable.  Afterwards, with my health and body suffering, I had to put those ambitions aside.  Like I wrote earlier, I didn't handle it well.  I was in denial about many things.  And the emotional pain was a daily thing.  Every time I tried to stand up and march forward, I fell back down.  I didn't have the energy, and I lost a lot of hope in 2012. 

A dear friend came to visit Christmas 2012.  By then I had become almost a complete recluse.  I didn't seek to make any new friends, and the only interaction I had, outside of medical, came whenever friends or family visited.  There was still an expectation for me to lead and keep PRS up.  Looking back, I wish I had the strength and a team to help take over the society while I took time away for myself.  I think that's what I ultimately needed.  I limped along, appearing at most events.  But even at those events, I spent most of it in bed, or out of sight.  For a few events, I had to make regular trips to the hospital in the middle of the night.  It was the single worst enemy I ever faced.  And every time I was reminded of my limitations, I kept feeling defeated over and over again.

By the end of 2013, life - at least on the surface - appeared to be balancing out.  I found a great house, I was feeling better and a few projects came to my attention that held my interest.  I considered pursuing them.  But after all that time of struggling and falling down, I wasn't yet prepared for reality.  In 2014, I had a lot of interesting prospects come my way.  Small yet successful speaking tours in a few cities.  I went to L.A. to take a few meetings, and every week I kept getting offers for additional meetings.  For most people, the opportunity to stay in L.A. and meet some of the best and brightest in the business would be an opportunity to kill for.  But I was miserable.  Any optimism I had about returning to "the norm" quickly faded away.  I was depressed and unable to focus on anything.  I remember being asked to write a short bio of myself and it took me a month to complete it.  Every day I just stared at my laptop screen and couldn't find the words.

Although I didn't yet realize it, I was completely lost.  Three unrelenting years had passed, and I hadn't fully realized the toll it took on me, emotionally, spiritually and even physically.  I didn't know who to talk to because I wasn't exactly sure what was wrong.  On the surface, things were going great, but underneath, I was going through a crisis of faith in myself and of others.  People have always commented on how I'm a grand optimist.  But for the first time, I wasn't optimistic about anything.  I felt beat down and worn out.

As 2014 rolled on, I found myself letting go.  Not all by choice.  I found that many people who were in my life, whom I called friends, weren't.  I don't like losing friends.  I don't like letting people down.  There's a lot I'm uncomfortable with, including crowds of fans.  Seeing my face in magazines or on buses.  My decision to leave "State" was supported with the prospect of having some time to myself to decompress and decide what to do next.  Instead, it was spent keeping the machine, of which many people depended on, going.  And then instead of traveling around the world or writing memoirs, the "me time" I had planned for went to trying to fix a physically broken and sick body. 

I got tired of it.  So at times I was destructive and neglecting of the things that were expected of me.  For the most part I didn't take my health problems as seriously as I should have.  Others had to intervene to push me in that direction.  I don't why or how I'm still here, and sometimes that angers me.  I see people who stay on track, doing the right thing (which people always regarded me as doing - staying the course) to tackle the obstacles life and nature or fate threw their way.  I, on the other hand, got angrier and more bitter.  Home felt like prison.  And instead of meetings and doing something productive, my weeks were filled with medical visits.

Something in me just snapped.  When problem after problem hit in 2014, I found myself sitting by, unable to move or jump to the rescue to solve the problems.  I usually thrive on stress.  No one likes problems, but I had a simple philosophy.  I looked at problems like a mathematical problem that was capable of being solved.  If there was a crack in the foundation or a problem with the company, I always found a solution.  But I was tired.  And down.  And, as I later discovered, still unwell. 

I had to postpone some tours, let go of some projects, and in between all that, I found some of my friendships dissolve overnight.  Longtime friendships.  I sometimes wondered if we were ever friends at all, or if I was just a financial opportunity or resource for them.  After all, life is so exciting when there's a TV show to be made or a film project being discussed.  Or books, tours, etc. 

It's too early to talk about the pain I went through in 2014, but looking back at this very moment, it was simply a continuation and culmination of the few years prior.  From 2011-2014, I went through a lot.  And the health and personal issues I experienced in 2014... well, I was determined to keep it a private matter this time around.  After all those years in front of a camera, I think I deserve that.  To be honest, it's not even open for debate.  It's my business.  Sadly, some former friends and colleagues took to making it their business, but they never hit the mark on what was going on, because they weren't there.  But it was enough to realize that these were not the actions of friends.  If I had wronged them, there are different ways in handling the situation. 

I recently spoke to a friend about some of the bashing I went through last year, and this person was disgusted at how certain people went out, in his opinion, to kick me while I was vulnerable.  I didn't say much, and the little I did say was spent mainly defending their actions.  I'm not a big fan of back-talking anyways.  But he said something I spent a good deal of time digesting.  I've heard it from others and even from within myself.  He said that, whatever I was going through, a friend doesn't take to the media or online to cut someone when they're down.  Especially when they didn't have the facts as to what was even happening.  I'm aware that there's some speculation and fringe news articles about what may have happened last year, but I didn't read any of them.  I was going through too much at the time, so I had other people handle my business while I handled personal matters which were, without a doubt, the most immediate concern.  I didn't respond to any of the bashing.  I was dealing with a more serious matter.

There was, and probably still is, some anger I feel at how everything was dealt with.  From my end and from their end.  But like all the years prior, I've opted to focus on rebuilding myself.  If I let anyone down, the only thing I can do is try to get back up.  And once that's accomplished, try to move forward and rectify any errors I've made along the way.  That'll take time. 

History can be the judge.  But it appears I may be on this planet for a while.  So history will have to wait and see. 

Years ago, I knew I was going to get hit with a curve ball.  But how it hits, where it hits, and how it feels afterwards is unpredictable.  It is true, I've lived quite a bizarre and interesting life.  And I march to my own tune.  Always have, and I suspect I always will.  I never really thought of it that way but people kept pointing that out, and I think that's a fair judgment. 

For someone who reached a lot of success at a very young age, I can tell you that that isn't where I found happiness.  Losing nearly everything didn't make me suddenly want it all back, either.  On the contrary, I realized that many of the things in my life were no longer desired or needed.  As much as it pained me, a lot of friendships were meant to end.  If I'm honest with myself, they ended long before the fallout ever happened.  Long before they had a reason to bash me.  With two of my best friends, looking back, I realized that the friendship had started dying years prior.  It was all just dead weight.  For both sides.  It doesn't necessarily make one person worse than the other.  The point I'm trying to make is, at least in my life, some people aren't meant to be on the path that I'm on.  It's not a matter of who did more wrong than the other.  I know many of them probably hold on to or cling to that, and I'm sorry about that but wish them well.  I don't want that in my life.  I can't go on chasing the unobtainable. 

Someone once told me one of the greatest abilities I have is bringing and connecting people together.  Even though some of them may no longer be active in my life, they are still great friends or even more in someone else's lives.  And they met through me.  That's great. 

I've always wondered why, even at an early age, why I felt that in order to do what I felt was right, I had to sometimes go at it alone.  It started with college.  All my friends were going to colleges in state.  I asked myself, why go so far away?  I imagined what life would've been like sharing a dorm with one of my friends, and growing and sharing the college experience with some of them.  Instead, I went 700 miles away where I didn't know a single soul.  But here, at Penn State, I made a little bit of history.  And I met some amazing new friends.  And even though "Paranormal State" was a struggle, once again I made some history and made some great friends.  PRS was and is still a monumental responsibility in my life.  It's like raising a child.  Last year, at least for a little while, I had to let others hold on to the flame while I had to journey into the dark night of the soul. 

And now we're here.  Things are different.  Some things are the same.  I wanted to write "I've never had so much change happen in such a short amount of time," but that is untrue.  I've experienced it before, just in different ways.  And like those other times, while I'm undergoing this change, it's hard to see where exactly Fate is taking you.  What's the big picture? 

If we're honest with ourselves, we all experience dark nights of the soul.  We all have our personal demons.  We all get hit with curve balls.  I suppose it's what we do afterwards that makes our lives interesting.

Me?  I'm taking my time to re-discover myself.  My body is, knock on wood, in as best condition it can be for someone my age.  I still have to keep an eye on things.  I had surgery on my right hip in May, and now I'm at the point where I can run and workout, things I had forgotten to appreciate until the opportunity was taken away from me. 

It's true, some people get lost and never come back.  I can tell you I'm not exactly the same person I was 5 years ago.  But if I were, I wonder if I'd be happy.  The essence is still there.  Even at my lowest and darkest hours, I realize now that what kept me together is that I was still an optimist.  Even though I was lying to myself and tried to give up.  Ironically, I failed at failing because, as much as I wanted to, I ultimately didn't believe in giving up.  I think that's where some of the anger came from. 

Every time I take a break to think before I write another sentence, I glance at a rosary that hangs from my desk lamp.  I wasn't even aware that I was staring at it until the very end of this long blog post.  I knew that I kept looking over to the light.  But I thought it was just a reflex.  Sometimes, when I stop to think, I turn my head.  Whatever my eyes are pointed to, I'm not really looking at something.  I'm deep in my head.  Or so I thought. 

Perhaps it's just one of those coincidences, that whenever I stop to think, I look at the crucifix-part of the rosary dangling from my lamp?  But one could also say there's something symbolic about turning to look at the lamp, a source of light, when I think.  And in that light, the small symbol of my practicing faith hangs. 

Despite the friendships I lost, I made new ones.  And when there were times where I gave up, they did not.  There was always new reasons to keep standing up.  And the reasons for being down remained the same.  Some gave up, others did not.  Life moves on.  

Being sick sucks.  Being angry and bitter sucks even more.  Losing friends hurts.  Wasting time thinking about how unfair life is is even more hurtful.  Because it can blind you to seeing who is still there, and the new people that have come in to your life.  In time, I suspect, the same thing will happen where our paths will cross and we will part ways.  Not for any damaging reason.  It's just life. 

There are few constants, and even fewer guarantees in life. 

Some may think that, after all the success I had in my 20s, I should have achieved even more by now.  Here's the bottom line... there are things I want to do, but not that way.  I had to go through a few things that were unavoidable.  And I learned a lot about myself and the world due to it. 

That's why I'm writing now.  I began to write this after my head was swimming with memories of the past few years.  And I hit a moment of panic.  The panic was familiar somehow.  And I began to think about all the times I experienced it in my life.  It was during a lot of great moments. 

I admit I go to a lot of therapy.  For someone who dislikes shrinks due to working with them on cases, I've found they've been helpful in helping me deal with a lot of trauma I never took time to deal with. 

So why am I writing this?  Partly for myself, and mostly because I feel compelled to share it.  It is most definitely strange to me that, for someone who is actually very private, I somehow do a good job at sharing my experiences with the world in a (mostly) positive way.  When I speak, people stay even when I go one or two hours over.  They say it's because they can sense the passion behind my words. 

Not every lecture, or event, or blog or moment in my life is a slam dunk.  But, I feel it's best to share with the world.  This is out there for whoever wishes to read it.  Whether it's one person or a million. 

I made this blog site mainly for you.  Whoever you are.  I felt it necessary to share parts of myself.  And to have a place to call home online where I can write, post, and share these thoughts as they come. 

Getting lost is painful.  But it's necessary.  A lot of my fans who write to me tend to be in rough spots.  They write to me about the loss of a loved one, or abuse in their lives, or frightening experiences they're having.  For a while I've run away from listening to that pain because it overwhelmed me. 

When we get lost, people will lose faith in you.  You will lose faith in yourself, even if for a short time.  Things will not go back to the way they were before.  But that, my friends, is the point.  I learned this just as you have, or will learn. 

I have no idea if next year I'll go through yet another painful period of getting lost again, or if I'll discover I'm on a bright and exciting path.  Then again, if I'm honest with myself, I don't think I ever knew when I felt completely in control. 

One of my therapists has been constantly reminding me that sometimes we cannot control where we're going in life.  We just have to learn to accept and go with the current.  And during that time, the answers will come to us. 

There was a time, prior to "Paranormal State," where if you knew me, you would've thought I had thrown away my entire career and was going to be a college drop-out, waiting tables.  But I got through it and I did something pretty bizarre and hard to do.  And to be honest, and at the risk of sounding narcissistic, I did it by getting lost and then finding myself.  And realizing I was doing something I believed in.

I'm finding things to believe in.  You will too.  The result of getting out of the woods or re-discovering yourself may not result in something dramatic like a TV show or a bestselling book.  It may be recovering from cancer and rediscovering life.  Or finding a new relationship that ends up being "the one" with that special person you share the rest of your life with.  It won't come as one big epiphany.  As I've learned, just when I thought I was done getting lost, I discovered that I was still going through another layer. 

We have choices in life.  So it's not that we are just mere logs floating down the stream.  We are not powerless at all times.  If we think really hard, we have all chosen moments in life to surrender to the stream and go where it takes us.  Until we're ready to get back up. 

I admit, looking back, getting lost was fun at times.  It's odd to say that when I'm looking at some of the darkest times of my life.  But it was fun because it was then, and it's not now.  And because I survived it.  It meant something. 

I thank you all for reading this.  If you are currently lost... come find me when it's over.  And when you're ready, share your story.