This Is Us

The truth of your life is always there — and the more you hide from it, the worse it haunts you

Blue-colored illustration of a person looking out froma prison cell.
Blue-colored illustration of a person looking out froma prison cell.
Illustration: lupashchenkoiryna/Getty Images

The cops swarmed toward us.

Have you ever been in a riot?

There were screams, but there was also silence. Enough silence to hear bones crack.

Out of that memory grows a profound connection.

In my life, I’ve wandered into some wild places. I’ve taken long drives in the night across bridges and thought to stop and just end it. But I found help—a doctor who spent a lot of time with me and talked me through the rough bits. It was a relationship I treasured, but it also reached a place where I needed to move on.

At our…

Several years before the pandemic arrived and forced us into a remote work debate, I was working on totally remote massive global productions. I was part of remote team that was so productive it was cited in the Financial Times in 2009 as ‘the future of work.’ And I became an evangelist for the concept.

My work is in the animation and video game industries, both long-term masters of remote global pipelines. The COVID crisis was handled efficiently by every video game producer I knew. Barely a beat was missed. It was impressive. And depressing too. …

Congress must act.

The previous president plowed through the guard rails protecting our Constitution and painted gray areas with his own personal logo. My reoccurring thought during the rough years of his presidency was we need serious ethics reform of the Executive Branch.

Scattered, unfocused and undisciplined, his presidency faltered, but we survived. The red flags flew. Another smarter, ambitious, insidious personality might exploit weak ethics to destroy our democracy.

They wrapped the Congressional Effort to reform Executive Branch ethics into the ‘For The ‘People voting rights act. But Republicans see voting rights as a Last Stand. Efforts to insure Americans vote are…

Used to hang upstairs in Tony Bon Jovi’s apartment at Power Station. You can imagine. Jim was there a lot. One night he says he needs 200 tracks to do this song he’s working on. Yeah, sure. But he’s Jim. So next day the guys at the studio bring in maybe 8 or 9 Otari 24-tracks and hook them all together. They fill the control room and go out into the hall. Cables everywhere. Give a challenge like that to studio engineers and they eat it up. It never exactly worked. Getting all those machines to run in sync, just…

Writing and productivity tips overwhelm the platform.

Are we being terrorized by algorithms? Likes? Followers?

Why I write. It’s a compulsion. I started young, eight. I had my first story published in a Catholic newspaper. ‘How I Saved Jesus.’

The story: I rush into a church and save the Sacred Host. Me saving The Lord. They must have thought it cute.

I write because I always do. When Medium started up it was a blood-rush. A writer’s platform. A place to publish. The Mission Statement felt writerly. Home. More importantly, a place to read writing, to discuss writing, to vibe writing.

Not so much these days. Now…

I’ll put it this way for you. I lost everything, including my mind.

After a life of accomplishments, I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing.

I feel like every day is the last day of my life.

My past feels like a bear trap.

Yet somehow, I lead a life of hope and growth. Most mornings, I try to get up early, meditate, learn, walk the dog, practice tai chi. I look around my life and feel gratitude for the gifts they have given me and the relationship I’m in.

I have days when my creativity pours out of me, new songs, new essays, new stories, videos, ideas, entrepreneurial energy.

Then there are those…

3am is a time onto itself. It’s spirits and deep vibrations. It’s the silence of the stars. The angels whisper at 3am.

I awake, and I have a song. It’s complete, or at least the chorus, melody and harmony are there.

All creatives go through these experiences. The mind roams free at 3am. But this is different. The song is insistent. It demands attention. It’s gossamer and steel.

I get up. A voice is in my head and another voice telling me to record. This is way beyond scribbling down an idea. I’m being told to sing the song in…

Adam Levine from Maroon 5 says bands are dead. I watched the 2021 Grammys. The only group I recall was BTS, which is not a band. So is Adam right? Does it matter? What is a band?

A band is a collaboration. Being in one is consuming. A real band lives together, drinks together, struggles together, fights, fucks, laughs. It’s intense. And out of the crucible comes music.

Fans of bands buy into a complex storyline. Relationships, breakups, friendships. Watching a band onstage is watching a shifting, moving puzzle, all the parts coming together in rare expression.

When it works…

Please, no more politics. I can’t take anymore.

I’m a political junkie. I’ve always been addicted to the hard stuff. My dinner table when I was a kid was Crossfire with meatloaf.

But the last 4-years have been a fired-up speedball of blowhard politicians. I feel rhetorically raped. I can’t order a sandwich at the deli without seeing partisan baloney on rye.

I’m haunted, I tell you, and so is every other citizen. We’ve got national PTSD and our political parties promise more.

Joe Biden seems like an okay guy, but every speech he makes is like a dud thud in my battered psyche. …

Harry and Meghan share their escape plan with Oprah.

A curve of brick along a busy road. Too high. I can’t get over. But I can imagine the kids on the other side. Charles. Anne. Prince and princess. I’d like to to meet them. We’re neighbors. Neighbors in that I live not so far away. But it’s an unreachable faraway place, on the other side of the wall, Buckingham Palace, guards, state dinners, prime ministers, kids playing, maybe finding secret places like all kids do.

I run my hand along the wall as I walk. Why won’t they come out to play?

Sometimes I think the royal family is…

Christopher McHale

Writer | Composer | Producer | Human | Christopher lives and works in New York City.

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