After My Father’s Heart Attack

I recently found this message I wrote after my father’s heart attack at 46 in 2013 just 5 days after my 21st birthday. 

This was a tumultuous time for me. My hockey career had ended. I was wrestling with meaning and purpose. I was disillusioned with the state of the world. I was experimenting with psilocybin and other substances and having thoughts I couldn’t control.

When I read it, I can see a boy lost. One who is struggling to connect the dots. I can see the pain I was experiencing. I can see the grandiosity that led to a breakdown.

It reveals so much about me at the exact moment. And about me as a whole. 

This is just one of the reasons I’m so passionate about language. I know how it easy to fall. But with this knowledge now, I can course correct. I can stop myself from having another breakdown. More than that, I can use this knowledge to become a better version of myself. Just like you can.

The one that still has immense flaws and growth ahead, but that is writing to you today. 

In the picture is my dad celebrating his 50th birthday. There is a lot more work that he and I need to do. We all have work to do. 

I’ll continue to do my best to share insights from the journey with you. 

Thank you for being a part of this.

After my Father’s Heart Attack

Today I sat in the car on the way back from the hospital; my dad is 46 years old and he has just had a heart attack.  He was very lucky in that he felt the warning signs before, and he was at the hospital when he fainted.  For a moment, his heart had completely stopped and he was legally considered dead.   As of now, I don’t know if my dad is going to be okay, but from what I have seen he is alert and stable, and he is being taken to another hospital for a triple bypass surgery, a difficult procedure that has amazingly been made possible by modern medicine.  

Seeing my father, one of the strongest men I’ve ever known, reduced to this state, full of tubes and surrounded by medical equipment, has been a very intense and harrowing experience.  Although he lives in Chatham and I don’t get to see him all that often anymore, every time I have, he has been full of life, with a big smile and goofy laugh, even under the stressed conditions forced upon him.  Even though we have had our fair share of problems, like any son and father, it is still difficult to see a man who has been one of the most crucial parts of your life struggle with both the mental and physical repercussions of such a traumatic experience.  But through it all, he will be a rock not just for me but for my sister, stubborn and loud, just like he has always been; and if anything comes down to sheer will and determination I know he will make it through.  

When things like this happen you remember, or begin to realize, what really is important in life.   And I would hope that anyone reading this has at least some idea of what these things are; the love of your family, the support of your friends, unforgettable experiences, good health, and for me now more than ever; time.  In the modern world that we live in, time is equally overemphasised and diminished in significance.   

In one sense, time is everything; you must be at work at 8:00 AM, and you must leave at 5:00 PM.  You must watch your favourite television at 9:30 PM Eastern Standard time.  You must pay your rent cheque on May 1st every month and you must pay your student loan back as soon as you are finished with your education.  Now, this way of looking at things is not only something that I see as problematic, but is also proven to be detrimental to human health and way of living.  What many people don’t understand is that these times, these exact moments where you must be somewhere or do something, are simply a product of Capitalism and a system that’s only objective is to increase efficiency and profit.  This is not a natural process that was ever considered for use before the Industrial Age.  People before this era of exploitation and manipulation rose and slept in congruence with both nature and human need.  There was no particular time or certain amount of hours that needed to be worked as long as the tasks at hand were finished in their required manner.  This idea seems unusual to many people including me; since our birth we have been conditioned to see these precise measures of time as an absolute and unshakeable truth.  However, together, we must understand that this kind of time is a fathom of our imagination that has been instilled by people whose only interests are maximizing the amount of work and consumption one person can do in a lifetime.

On the other hand, time is the most limited and underappreciated resource that people will ever encounter.  This is something that is quickly brought to our attention in times of emergency and tragedy.  Over one person’s lifespan, we are expected to attend school, get an education, enter the workforce, work hard, save up enough money so that we can retire, and at that point we will have the time to enjoy life, relax, and foster these values that are so vital to our lives.  This ideology is something so corrupt to me that it shakes me down to the very core of my body.  What I truly don’t understand is how people think that doing a job that is only seen as work is something necessary in this day and age.  We have more opportunities than any generation before us and a completely democratizing force in the internet, but we continue to fall victim to this brutal Capitalist regime.  By the time that we have saved up enough money to retire, we are at least 65 years old, and the people that should have been around for us to connect to and to develop authentic relationships with are either dead and gone or out of reach.  There is so much potential and good in human beings yet most people waste so much of it when they understand this false way of life as fundamental for happiness and success.  People die every day, some expect it, and some never see it coming; this is only a part of what makes life so terrifying and beautiful.  As far as we know, we only have one life, and at any moment this can be cut short by something that is out of our control.  For me, the fact that people often know this in their heart but continue to fall into the same path is unexplainable, and out of any other thing, the greatest folly of human beings.  So when I say that time is not only over-emphasized but also under-emphasized, know that what I truly mean and deeply believe is that most people never realize how short life is until it is too late. 

These ideas are not something that have only formed within the time that I have found out my dad has had a heart attack, but are issues that I have been tackling for several years in great length.  These thoughts are now even more prominent and simplified than ever before. What I really find crazy is that for the first time ever, only just last week, I discussed these issues with my dad; the life that he has lived, and how he has worked over 60 hours a week since he has been just 18 years old.  My dad did not have the privilege to go to university or to carry out his dreams; he has had to provide for both himself and his family from a very young age.  My dad’s entire life has been dedicated to working to make my sister and my life better than his, because deep down he knows that there are things he wished he could have done, seen, and experienced that he may never get the chance to; but that maybe we will.  He is a brilliant man who at too young of an age fell into a system that capitalized on his inhibitions and forced him into a life of routine and monotonous work that no person deserves.

As I have come to develop and realize these truths within the last few years, and more specifically in the last couple months, I have begun to understand that I have been put in a privileged position that many others will never have.  It is not enough to simply take the knowledge I have and utilize it for the benefit of myself; I must give myself an opportunity where I can reveal these truths to others.  Today, that has become painstakingly clear, for if my dad lives or dies, I will take that as a sign that is too obvious to ignore.  If my dad had been allowed, or even better, encouraged to follow what he was passionate about and loved, than I know in my heart that he would not be in this situation.  It is not sustainable for a person to undergo what my dad and many of our parents have, and if the priorities stressed by this broken and horrible system were radically different, than I would not be sitting in the back of this silent car on the way back from the hospital after possibly seeing my dad alive for the last time. 

This is not a sob story or a woe is me piece, it is a wakeup call to both myself and anyone who reads this.  Many people have been in a situation like the one I am in, and yet they still continue down this unavoidable path of destruction that so many have gone down before.  The fact that these thoughts I have had have only recently came to a forefront in my life, and that my dad’s heart attack has happened in the light of all this is not a coincidence, but an indication to me that I must uncover the fallacies that we as a race have to overcome.  I have never been religious and never will be, but what has occurred over these past couple months and today is not something that is lost on me.  I don’t know if I believe in fate, but I do believe that people have a calling in their life and that they either choose to answer that call, ignore it completely, or push it into the back of their mind until it one day explodes with unmistakable force.  If you are reading this and ideas are forming in your mind, investigate them, wrestle with what they are; I guarantee that if it’s not your true calling, the process of looking at what has developed in your mind will at least reveal some answers to what really is.  If you choose to dismiss what you have read here today, that is your own personal choice and I still wish you the absolute best of luck in life; maybe at one point you will look back on this and it will have some sort of resonance for you.  For anyone else who doesn’t fully understand what they are feeling after reading this, please don’t fret, the fact that I can even write this has taken years of hard work on exploring who I really am and what my purpose is on earth, all catalyzed by what has happened today.  The ability to follow your dreams and be vulnerable in front of others is extremely difficult to learn, but it is something that anyone can do if they truly are willing to.    

Personally, there have been two main ways for dealing with these thoughts that have so readily invaded my life and mind.  Either I choose to write them down in something similar to this so that I can navigate through these thoughts myself, or I find confidence in a friend and have a genuine and honest conversation about the way I feel and what I have been thinking.  These conversations are the most valuable and important events that have ever happened in my life.   And if neither of these options seem viable to you, know that I would gladly discuss these ideas with anyone who wants to no matter how well-acquainted we are, and that it would be in a safe, truthful, and trustworthy relationship that would always be kept private.  I know when I was first dealing with thoughts of these kind, I thought that there was absolutely no one that I could talk to who would understand or even listen to me, and only recently have I allowed myself to open up to even my closest friends: as I said, I only discussed anything of this nature with my dad for the first time last week, but I know that it brought us closer than we have ever been before.  More than that, I sincerely don’t want anyone to have to suffer under the same notion of being alone that I was under for so long.   

Life is difficult and cruel, and something that no one should have to undergo alone; that being said, if you find the right people that you can share with and trust, than life can be the absolutely most beautiful and fulfilling experience you could imagine.  So find those people, connect, talk, make love, follow your dreams, and make this life worthwhile, not just for yourself, but for the people who have worked their entire lives to give you the opportunity to.  

Peace, much love, and good health

Tyler Scott

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