People told me that the path in life would be unpredictable, but I never thought mine would look like this.
My life is most adequately described as a “fiery fall from heaven”.
Let’s start with the basics.
1. In high school, I was the top trombonist in the state of Tennessee. I won 1st Chair in the Honor Band of America my Junior year. I was a motherfucker. If you want to hear some of my music, search “Shaun Kahler YouTube” and my video “Miss Tinkle’s Overture”
shows how good some of my playing became at its peak.
My trombone playing landed me scholarships to the University of Tennessee and a full ride to Vanderbilt
University in 2008 when I transferred. During my time at UT, I was a UT cheerleader and was well known for my tumbling skills on the field and the basketball court.
I made entire arenas cheer with my gymnastics, which you can also see on YouTube.
2. I attended UT from 2005 – 2008 and transferred to Vanderbilt in 2008. In 2009, while on the road, my trombone was stolen and I did not have enough money to
purchase a new one. This was a huge downfall, essentially the mark of the end of my music career. However, I had been granted a full scholarship to Vanderbilt
which was not dependent on my committment to playing music. So I made a big decision, and in the fall of 2009, I went pre-med and took on the hardest courseloads of
my entire life. I sacrificed everything I had to make it to medical school and get a shot at becoming a doctor. After 3 grueling years of science coursework from a Top 20 research university, I was accepted to medical school at the LMU-Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. I began attendance in 2012.
3. Medical school whooped my ass. I made it through my first year with grades between 70 and 75, and failed 2 courses with 69’s each. I had to repeat these two courses
the following year. The level of challenge at this point, being a “non-academic” (i.e. I didn’t grow up in high school working on studying, I didn’t really “study” in college
up until I went pre-med) was beyond my level of control. Work ethic at its max landed me passing grades by just barely. After retaking these courses, I fell out once
again fall of 2014, and failed a course with a 65 during the most difficult courseload of the entire first two years. I withdrew from medical school on November 4th, 2014
after not being able to get my head back on track, knowing that my 3 failed courses had essentially made my likelihood of success very slim at this point. I took the Dean’s
advice and withdrew from the program.
4. Enter massive depression. The next 5 months were awful. Winter was rough, sad, all the things. But one sunny day in March, when spring peaked its head into the window,
I made a decision to move to Raleigh, NC where the clinical trials industry was located and hoped that I could make a difference in the lives of others through the development
of novel medicines.
In August 2015, after 7 months of trying to land a spot, I finally received my first corporate job offer in the clinical trials industry. It was great…
for the first couple of months. However, once I began to get a hang of it, I really started needing a challenge. It was just paper shuffling.
I stayed after work to learn about how to become a CRA, put in extra hours, all to have it passed over. In February of 2016, after hearing that the CRA school had been delayed
by another 6 months (which my initial offer was contingent on), I finally realized that I couldn’t spend any more time at that company. Nobody cared if I did my work. Nobody cared if I showed up to work. Nobody cared about anything,
and nothing ever happened there. It was limbo.
I just couldn’t live that way. There was something wrong with the picture, to me, after being someone who was all about going “all in” when it came to work.
5. All this time I’ve been developing a level of suicidality. I wanted to off myself quite a bit. I still do sometimes, it comes and goes. I try to keep a level sense of humor
about it at this point, it’s become a bit of a norm for me. Life gets pretty interesting when you’re suicidal to some degree. Things start to matter less. You take bigger risks,
and kind of “live like it’s your last”. So naturally, I went out to California after spending some time in the mental hospital after getting to a fairly suicidal point on Easter.
Mind you my mother and father both are lacking in the capacity to house me for separate reasons (Mom is crazy, and Dad married a rather “evil stepmother” figure, so to speak…),
part of what was driving this suicidality as well.
So there was that. Lots of blank space… And then…
6. California. It was an interesting place. L.A. is a strange world. I miss some parts of it, and absolutely don’t miss / can’t remember much of the rest because my mind
just kind of blanks it out. The people there I remember being a tier of cool significantly lower than what I’m used to. Which is ironic, considering it’s California. But I
digress… California had some beautiful scenery, and I spent 4 months living in my car there. Worked at a hoverboard shop in Venice Beach and took in the scenery. It was great.
(when my boss wasn’t being a total asshole) lol.
7. Knoxville. After being in California for 4 months, I got the feeling like I needed to go home, that this was where I was going to find what it was that I was looking for.
I drove back to Knoxville, and made it with literally 1/8 of a tank of gas left and $0 to my name. I stayed with my best friend for a month before falling out with his wife. (which we’re still trying to fix… I mean this is my best friend of 20 years here… I think it’ll be okay though.)
8. Now. So two (edit: three) jobs later, and after being screwed over at one contract job out at Oak Ridge National Lab that I loved (software testing for nuclear materials production) I’ve managed to find some work out at Ober Gatlinburg which pays $8.50 an hour (edit: also gone, management is “moving in a different direction and had to make some difficult decisions”). I’m still homeless, I still live in my car. Winter is coming, and I’ve
written all this poetry to describe my feelings on life, living, etc.
But here I am! Alive and well. October 2016 was spent skateboarding, writing poetry, playing chess, dancing on the weekends to stay active, and reading about quantum physics to keep my mind intrigued.
Something that I’ve learned is that hard circumstances, when brought onto people who know how to deal with solving problems, leaves a certain mark in terms of creativity.
It is a pressure upon itself, which exerts itself through some meanderings of thought into a real world picture built from rare experience.
I wouldn’t take it back for anything. Well… sometimes I would because it’s miserable at the low points. But at other points, it’s worth it.
I sure love getting to write as much as I do. And I hear snowboarding for free in the winter isn’t so bad. I hope I get lucky and find a place to live up there.
So that brings us to today. And here I am.
Thank you for reading! It is a conundrum, certainly, albeit one that will drive me to greater heights if I can find the escape route.
Your support is the first step on my way out.