Stranger 8, Day 8 – Meet Steve, the “Musician”

Stranger 8, Day 8 - Meet Steve

Looking over the past several Strangers, I actually approached today looking to build a little more diversity. But early this morning, as I do almost every Saturday morning, I stumbled someone at the summit of Stone Mountain who didn’t quite fit was I was “looking for”. However, he was actually the perfect Stranger.

As I hiked up the top of the world’s largest granite deposit, I noticed a young guy sitting there with a GoPro camera on a tripod, with a book next to him, music softly playing, and he was buried with a pen writing in what looked like a journal.

This man looked like he had some purpose… something about him, so I walked up, introduced myself. His name was Steve, and immediately, he started sharing so much about himself. He had a story. He was eager to share, and I was eager to listen.

Now, I did tell Steve I had some questions I typically liked to ask, but Steve was like an open book. He had so much he wanted to share that I didn’t want to stop his flow.

Hope I can share and do justice Steve’s story…

Meet Steve, 26

First, Steve shared that he was taking part of #21earlydays. I read about this on Steve and others wake up at 4AM for 21 straight days. The goal here is to create positive habits.

Steve was documenting in his journal “how fitness came into my life… better life… better habits.” I knew Steve was going to share some deep life experiences, and he was comfortable being vulnerable.

Our conversation zigged and zagged — his story weaving through his marketing background and how he and his friend, a 2-time Olympic Gold medalist in Sydney, wanted to bring their skills and talents together. We talked about his desire to become a full-time musician. Then, we got to relationships…

Steve talked about how he was “finally” single. That was interesting. He had ended an 8-year relationship just four years ago, and then a few months later, jumped into a relationship that lasted two years. It was the 2-year relationship that Steve went into detail about.

During the two years, he was very unhappy. It wasn’t necessarily about the girl, either. The couple had moved into a place in Norcross that was not in a good neighborhood. He commented how he couldn’t even bring his instruments to the neighborhood because “people were waiting to steal them”.

So, at this point, Steve didn’t actually expound too much about what happened in the relationship, but I share this because this time was his Life-Defining Moment. I’ll get back to this in a second.

So Steve starts to take the conversation in a new direction sharing his battle with alcoholism. Steve talks about how he started drinking at a young age. He used other drugs, too, namely pot. He also shared how he was eight years clean until he relapsed November 2015. During this night, he found himself at a bar, and had one drink. He called his friends and family telling them he needed help, but once he had the one drink, it quickly became 12. He had gone for years without a drop, so to go to 12 drinks was much more than he had a tolerance for.

His friend picked him up outside the bar (after being kicked out) and brought Steve home where his sister and brother were. He was going on and on about how much he hated himself and his life that night. His sister, afraid for herself and for him, called the police. She wanted to have the police take him to a center for care, but the police saw him as a “drunk nuisance”, and instead, took him straight to jail. It was the first and only time Steve had spent in jail. He described the experience succinctly, “horrifying”.

Steve went straight back into rehab. He saw his experience at the rehab program as things they should’ve “taught in preschool”. They taught him about general thoughtfulness, about life… about being “mindful”. Steve also went to AA meetings, and said one of the most important lessons from all of these programs was being able to speak with those older than him. They would share how they would be decades clean, but then one drink lead them to “lose everything”.

Steve realized that his struggles with alcohol would be a constant practice. He didn’t “want to be one of those guys” who had lost everything because of alcohol and other substances.

Steve now started to piece things clearer as it all came full circle… his time during the 2-year relationship and not being able to play music, it was his Life-Defining Moment because that’s when he realized that music was his key to happiness.

With relationships, with substances… they were all his way of denying the truth of what brought him happiness — music. He was chasing “instant gratification” before vs. the longer, harder route of pursuing music full-time. Or in his case now, starting a music studio.

He comments about how he wants to prove all the nay-sayers wrong. He has always faced nay-sayers from those who didn’t believe in his skateboarding abilities in the past, being a musician, and his studio business now.

It seems to me that Steve has come to the realization of what matters most and what makes him happy. But also of importance is realizing what does NOT make him happy. He refers to the path he doesn’t ever want to go down again as the “negative imprint”.

Steve is an open book, and we could have go on for days. So we wanted put a cap on it and answer Elizabeth’s question (yesterday’s Stranger) — “If you could change one thing, what would it be and why?”

Steve thinks about this and smiling — it’s a challenge. He takes a second, “Good one, last Stranger!” (I’ll have to make sure Elizabeth sees this.)

He finally responds, “lack of closure with the one who got away.” He shares with me briefly a girl he had met between the 8-year and 2-year relationships. There was one girl who he dated briefly including attending the Stone Mountain sunrises like this morning. He smiles realizing this, but he continues that he wished he was not so “hasty” in trying to push the relationship. The girl was used to abusive relationships, but Steve wanted to move quickly.

So for tomorrow’s Stranger, Steve wanted to ask, “What’s your purpose? If you don’t know, what is your negative imprint?”

After the handshake.

I realize that I probably didn’t do Steve justice in everything that he shared. If this writing seems choppy, it’s on purpose. It’s how Steve started flowing, and I think it’s important to realize this.

For me, this is an indication of how honest Steve is, but also there is a greater story in him. He probably has not strung his story together as well, but I’d imagine he’s getting there by journaling and as part of the #21earlydays process.

And almost as perfect as Steve is as a person, a woman walked up to us during our talk and asked one of us to take a picture of her — “arms out wide to let people who are hurting know I’m right here”. She had some story, and wanted to, in the least, assure others with a picture.

Steve looked at me after taking the picture and reflected, “You meet all sorts of people who come up here for all different reasons”. Couldn’t have said it better myself, Steve.

Meet Steve. No longer a Stranger.


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