Jim Caldwell

Sometimes I wish I lived in a musical.  Is that weird?  After all, when we’re talking, there’s a pretty good chance that something you just said made me think of a song lyric.  It’s not that I’m not listening to you or what you’re saying isn’t interesting, it’s just how I’m wired.  I can remember as a child being angry with… someone?  Probably my sister – we fought a LOT – but I’m not sure.  I played and sang Billy Joel’s “My Life” over and over (“go ahead with your own life, leave me alone”), the lyrics just fit what I was feeling.  So yes, sometimes I want to walk around and throw a song out as an answer to a question or situation.  Welcome to my life – Karl, the Musical!

all lyrics and music are solely the property of Ryan Young and Justin Francis, Off With Their Heads

I wanted to tell you, I wanted to share
Some important details that you’re unaware of
I want you to listen, I want you to care
I’ll choke to death if I don’t clear the air

When a song really connects with me, I can feel it and taste it.  It’s an odd feeling that follows me around and finds me playing and replaying the tune repeatedly.  One of these is “Clear the Air” by Off With Their Heads.  It may seem odd that this one strikes such a note with me.  It’s a dark tune, with the singer struggling to try and explain his emotional state.  My life is pretty damn good; I have a wonderful wife and son, my health is excellent.  I get to help other people change their lives the way I changed mine – with a new outlook on health, wellness, and the place that food holds on their life.  Why does this one resonate with me?

It’s not a secret that I obsess
And then I get angry, and then I get stressed
And you can’t imagine and you can’t compare
You’ve no frame of reference and then you get scared

At the same time, as we’ve seen all too often recently, having it good doesn’t mean you are happy.  Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are only the most recent examples of this.  In 2015, Jim Caldwell, the best man at my wedding, made the same choice.  We didn’t see each other much any more; life separated us.  When we did, we would talk and laugh and share music and it was like we were still in that apartment.  I think of him all the time, and wonder how he came to his decision.  The hard truth is, we can’t tell by looking at a face or a life from the outside and know how they feel.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the little day to day crap and not see the red flags.  Then we see a story and we all say “oh man, don’t miss the signs, be kind to each other, get help if you need it” – and we forget the next day or week.  Some celebrity does something stupid, or the water heater gives out, or any number of things happen and we fall back into daily life.  Then it happens again…

I’m doing my best to help make you see
That it’s not your fault when I beg and I plead
It’s much easier just to go back to sleep
But we’ve gotta find a place to start because I’m falling apart

To be very clear, I am not suicidal, and never have been.  I don’t think about killing myself.  I’m not a therapist, and I don’t pretend to understand the emotions that Jim (or anyone else) experienced.  I do wonder about how people can get to that place, but I am not there and never have been.  That kind of makes my point, though – while I don’t want to end my life and I’m in a great place, there are times when I feel the desperation in this song.  I just want to talk it out, explain myself, and share those emotions.  We all do that different ways and with different people.  I have my sainted wife, Heather.  She surely thinks I’m crazy, but she is always there for me.

I thought I’d get older and it’d go away
But it only gets worse and causes more pain
And being alone is getting so hard
I just gotta tell you

In addition to my wife and son, I have my business partner Amy, all our sharks, my other friends – and that is enough. To have these people accept me for who I am makes it okay for me to be that person. If you have people like that in your life, your total wellness journey has a great start.  If you don’t, please keep looking for them.  The 1DOS shiver is over 250 strong now because we have a connection to each other.  Different lives, ages, other interests, sure – but we all rely on each other for support, assistance, accountability, and no judgment.

Goddammit, I’m falling apart
I’m down on my knees in the dark
Feeling for whatever’s left
But the pieces have fallen too far
Goddammit, I’m falling apart

If you’re still looking for those people in your life, I invite you to check out our family.  If it’s not for you, that’s fine too.  Maybe down the road it will be, maybe it won’t.  If you aren’t in a place where you need help, please take the time to make sure your friends and loved ones are alright.  Be the one THEY can talk to in need.  Just don’t fail to Clear the Air with someone.