Picture an eight year old on the playground. Singing "Cause we find ourselves in the same old mess, singin' Drunken Lullabies," swinging back and forth by himself on a swing because everyone else thought him weird. An outcast with few friends. By age ten, he was depressed, and rejected by most of his peers. He sang along by himself "If I ever leave this world alive, I'll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight,". When he was a young man, at the age of 13 he listened to the album "Thirteenth step". An album about an addict's struggle with life. He read the stories of the redemption the album offered. About how a man drove to the coast, parked his car, and listened to the album, while planning to overdose at the end of the last song, and how the album saved his life. The boy sobbingly sang "Little angel, go away, come again another day. The devil has my ear today, I'll never hear a word you say…. I am so weak and powerless," as he held the rifle under his chin. An hour later he sang "I am surrendering to Gravity and the unknown, catch me, heal me, lift me backup to the sun. I choose to live. I choose to live.. I choose to live…. help me survive the bottom," after he missed and knew he had a whole life ahead of him.

Now he is a man, of 19, and he sings along with a grin on his face "There has gotta be a heaven, because I have already done my time in hell." He knows the struggle, and he faces it without fail.

I grew up listening to artists who sang about hard times in their life, and learning how life can be a challenge, but if one makes the most of it; it's worth it. From songs about drunken nights, heroin highs and waking up in the county jail the next day, to falling in/out of love; I learned it all. I identified with each musician in a different way. I wanted to stand tall, proud, and strong like Johnny Cash. I wanted to be a rebel like Mike Ness, Sid Vicious, but educated like Henry Rollins. I wanted to have a strong understanding of my soul, humanity, the human experience, and condition, like Maynard James Keenan. I wanted to have the comfortability with sexuality, gender, and swagger like Prince. Each musician saved my life in one way or another. Each musician showed me how to live my life, and made me the man I am today. Punk musicians taught me life is filled with heartbreaks, hardships, highs and drunken nights, but keep on going, fight for what I want. Be the hellraising, anarchist I was born to be. Psychedelic artists taught me lessons on the mind, awareness, consciousness. Alternative artists taught me heart, soul, and compassion. The list of every genre or artist and the lessons learned could go on.

To this day, I still struggle with issues up top. The difference between now and then, is that I have grown up. I have learned how to handle the bad times when they occur, and how to cherish the good times.