Day 3

It would be a gross understatement to say that I am not a morning person.  I remain traumatized about waking, reality, and life until about 11:30 am at which time I can start to form complete sentences and tell you what my name is.  As a person with a day job that starts at 9 a.m., I have largely learned how to fake my way through my catatonic state on weekdays, but know that things like vowels and ideas are always difficult until lunchtime.

So today I was presented with the challenge of trying to figure out how the 5 happiness tasks fit into and around the workday.   In order to fit everything in and leave any time for social plans or just to sit and stare at wall for a while (which is surprisingly easier and more pleasant than meditating, even though they look exactly alike from the outside), the time before work was going to have to be used for something more than hitting snooze 10 times (pathetically, I’m not using hyperbole).  Fortunately the newness of it and my curiosity about how it would work was just enough momentum to get me out of the bed and the avoidance of the world that are both so very dear to me.


I decided that sitting down for a while before work seemed much easier than walking up hills, so I began the day with this one.  Worried I’d doze off and fall out of my chair and then have to clean up a bloody floor, I had one cup of coffee as a safety precaution and then sat down for the dreaded 15 minutes.

But guess what?!  It was so amazing and blew my mind!  I’m totally lying, it was still f-ing hard and I was still pissed off as hell until about 12 minutes in–again.  Something happens after a while of fighting it, and I’m interested to see if that span of horribleness shortens over time.  I might even consider going longer to get a little more of the not-horribleness.  “Consider” being the operative word there.

However, and I say this with great caution because I don’t definitely know if it’s tied to the meditation, I felt like a much more pleasant person after I was done.  And while a drunken homeless guy spit sunflower seed shells at me and sang-yelled “Midnight Train to Georgia” on the train to work, I was barely fazed—I actually kind of felt for the guy and didn’t grumble about his volume or saliva on my pants.  Again, I need more instances of this before I connect the two, but I’m noting it was there.

Day 3

Random Act of Kindness

A very good friend of mine is going through a break-up from a pretty significant relationship.  He definitely done her wrong.  To cheer her up and provide some melodic empathy, I made a mix cd for her titled, “Boys Sucks But We Are Great, Volume 1,” with each song supporting the overall theme.  Yes, I realize I’m a boy, too, but we do often suck.  It’s true.  I can own it.


Then I had to mail said CD, so I chose the post office that was the farthest away and walked there.  It’s also in a pretty sketchy part of town, and by that time the kind and gentle perspective I’d had that morning had worn off, and the drunk, homeless woman who walked with me for a block and a half trying to get a $20 from me, just made me really uncomfortable.  I could only access the surface empathy, not the real, true, deep stuff so that I could experience it with kindness.  I actually thought “this sucks that I have to deal with this” instead of “this sucks that she has to deal with this.”

I didn’t feel like it was enough exercise, though, so I walked half of the way home from work, about a mile and a half.  I would have actually walked the whole way, but I was late for dinner plans.  Oh, I also did 20 pushups (and am already sore…yeah.)

Reflect on something good that happened

Loneliness.  It is an awful, wretched, deep soul-suck of a feeling, as I’m sure everyone knows.  Not having or growing up with parents, I always feel like I have a unique claim to it—a deep, existential, profound sense of knowing there is no one there to support you if things go wrong, or to help you through something, guide you like parents do, and after the loss of MawMaw that feeling only intensified.  And maybe it’s true, maybe it does have it’s own unique flavor that accompanies the orphan experience, I don’t know.  But what I experienced tonight is that it also might be utter bullshit.

I had dinner tonight with my roommate’s parents who are two of the nicest, smartest, wittiest, most charming people I know, and both have shown me incredible kindness, even at my most depressed.  His mother is an expert blogger and has been following my own blog and given a lot of encouragement about the experiment.  Tonight before dinner she sat down with me and pointed out a few things that I could be doing better, some tweaks to make, some things to think about, asked how the experiment was going, and ended up providing something more important than advice—she showed authentic interest and a desire to see me do well.  And it occurred to me for the first time in years that it’s quite possible I might be solely focused on what I don’t have instead of what I do.  Might sound sappy or cliché, but it’s also 100% truth.

3 things I’m grateful for:

1)   Jennifer Maerz, a fantastic person and writer, for believing in my own writing.

2)   The brief moments of peaking out of the shit hole that you’re convinced you’re stuck in and getting a glimpse of something un-shitty.

3)   Jalapeno Jack Pretzel Crisps.  Seriously, have you tried these things?!



      • Jennifer

        Oh, I hadn’t thought of it like that! I had my own breakup recently, ergo my grump fest, and the music might be helpful even though I think I’m finally in the “try and let it go” phase! Emphasis on the word “try”. Letting go is not always easy for me. 🙂 But, the meditation is helping and music always help shift my mood, as does the weather. Speaking of which, I hope you are getting some sunshine. You should also look into vitamin D and St. John’s Wart. I found both helpful. Wishing you another successful day!

  1. Sandra Sallin

    Thanks for the link Randy. You must be getting better already. I mean you’re now realizing that there’s a whole bunch of people out there that love you. Except for the guy spitting sunflower seeds. Must try the Jalapeno Jack Pretzel Crisps. You made Bob laugh out loud! Way to go.

  2. Cindy del Valle

    Sounds like your soul hole might not be as empty as you thought. We are cheering you on! Love the humor you interject into your writings. Look forward to reading of your daily adventures.

  3. Niki Holmes

    May I offer a a simple little philosophy on meditation, shared with me by someone wise. This one works for me because it sort of amuses me.
    Imagine your brain is like a butterfly. It never flies in the path you expect and as with the butterfly, the path is always a bit wobbly anyway. Think of your meditation like training a butterfly. If your thoughts wobble into worry, acknowledge that you are off-meditation, then refocus, but without anger. You would not be angry with the butterfly for flying off course, would you?
    Meditating with a butterfly-imagery-induced silly smile on my face helps, too. Good luck

  4. Walker Thornton (@WalkerThornton)

    Sandra is promoting you as well as giving you support.
    Gotta say I laughed out loud at the idea of hearing Midnight Train… just hit me.
    Aside from the delightful humor I recognize that you’re in a tough place. But, wow how amazing you are to be facing this w/ grace (yeah, grace) and a wicked sense of humor. Thank you.

    • Julie Phelps

      Really enjoy reading/sharing in your progress. The homeless encounters remind me of when I first arrived in SF years ago – well, they DID continue over the years, but were most notable to me in the beginning days.
      Walking down Market St in the not-so-nice section, I was about to walk past a guy who sat on the sidewalk, leaning against a wall with outstretched legs. He raised one foot up and toward me after I shook my head “no” at his request for money. I didn’t see the foot action in time – I fell to the concrete. My knee made a hole in my favorite jeans. Major “ouch”! I felt embarrassed as well as angry. He just glared at me. Then, something quite nice happened: a different homeless guy rushed over to help me up. That kept me feeling positive for the rest of the day. I had very little money for myself back then (wait! still do!) so did not give out money to anyone. (Well, a slight few exceptions)

      But after that tripping event, what stayed with me was how one bit of kindness can likely make the doer feel good, but it most definitely can result in positive change of attitude for the recipient (that woulda been me at the time). It works with a smile, an unexpected compliment, or sharing of food with a stranger. Simple kindnesses.

      One action that makes me want to offer you high-fives now is how you pluck out the positives that are occurring. I know that sometimes that can be difficult to do. I can tell you are thinking about all that transpires, recognizing your improvements or progress no matter how small. ‘Seems to me that is a practice that will serve you well the rest of your life. You are on a really good path.
      Kudos on your version of meditating. Super kudos for doing those pushups!

      Now, gonna put the Jalapeno Jack Pretzel Crisps on my list of things to try. Thanks!

      • randyscotthyde

        Julie, that is terrible! I’m so sorry that happened to you! And, yes, finding the positives takes some effort, but I’m hoping it’s just a new muscle that needs some conditioning. Thanks for the cheer!

  5. Ted

    I think you’re doing great. (On my first trip to San Francisco, I walked up up California Street to walk the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral and thought my lungs were going to explode.)

    I found “How to Meditate” by Lawrence LeShan to be a useful read. Others may feel differently about the book. You might not want to read it right now, and it might not be useful for you right now, so just keep the title in mind.

    How lucky to have an experienced blogger to help you with the medium!

    And yes, if one ruminates on what they don’t have, it’s harder to see what they do have that’s working for them. And once you see and value those things, they become things you can build from to move closer to the life you want.

    Hope you have a wonderful day, and notice some of the magical things around you. (A Morning Bun from Tartine wouldn’t hurt, either!)

  6. Amie Pfeifer

    I read this while standing outside my gym this morning for 30 minutes. They have a new opener who refuses to let anyone in early. Yesterday I was very angry about it. Today I was more annoyed than angry and your blog again inspired me. Normally I will do my mediation as the last thing I do before I leave my apartment for work. Now that I can’t get into the gym 20 minutes early, it is throwing off my morning routine. So, starting tomorrow, I am going to do my meditation first thing when I get up, before I go to the gym. I am going to view this change as an opportunity to expand my meditation practice. You are doing brilliantly Randy, even when you think you aren’t. You are an inspiration and I am so grateful to call you my friend.

    • randyscotthyde

      I’m starting to think that flexibility is the key. You have these things you have to do every day to help yourself – doesn’t matter when or how, you just get them done. And if you can stay flexible and creative, blips in the normal routine can end up being an opportunity. But damn it it’s exhausting and unsettling! I hear you, Amie!

  7. Sarah

    I came across your blog today and I just want to thank you for sharing your experience in such an honest way. I can deeply relate to your struggle with depression and it makes me feel less alone to know you’re out there in the same city trying your best every day. Great work, I’m with ya

  8. Noriko Nakada (@writersgrind)

    Way to get out there, use public transportation, and walk the streets of your city to get ‘er done! Today, one of my students told me she’d done a good deed and I told her she was that much closer to happiness… I think your journey is getting all of us a little closer…

  9. Christina Yan

    I miss seeing you every morning, Randy. You do a pretty good job fakin’ it, but I always enjoyed watching your evolution throughout the morning to mid-afternoon. Keep up the great work!

  10. Daniel

    Randy, thank you very much for sharing your journey through this blog. I learned about the TED talk through your blog post and you inspired me to do the experiment myself for the whole of September. Today, day 5 and still going. I find it extra motivating to know I’m not doing it alone. Thank you for that too. The experiment has already changed my perspective and made my last days immensely joyful, whilst my brain has started looking for the good during the day instead of all the problems that need fixing.

    I have a lot of compassion for your meditation experience. I’ve had some pretty rough meditations myself until I realised that those feelings should not be a distraction from the meditation, but that I should in fact accept and welcome them in my meditation whilst letting go of the preconception that the meditation should be of a certain state i.e. relaxed, blissful, gentle, you name it. Meditation can bring all its positive benefits by us inviting all there is in us to manifest during the meditation. I wrote an article about that journey, which you can find here.
    Perhaps you’ll find it useful.

    Keep up the good work. I can’t wait to read more from you.

  11. katrinajoyplam

    Admittedly, I’m reading these in reverse order but they remain wonderful vignettes no matter the chronology!! Meditation isn’t pleasant; you might find that the entire point of the exercise is to sit and simply watch the circus in your mind as you cultivate a relationship with the act of observing. I’ve had many-a-sit where I wanted to scream the entire time. It’s incredible how noisy we get when we get quiet.

    On another note, I super-duper hope that mix tape has my name on it!!! XOXOXOXOXO

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