On living with the quiet voice of survivor’s guilt

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It’s the summer of 2020. I’m driving down the highway when James tells me from the passenger seat, “I love you. I think you’re a good man.”

James is 24 years old and has Down’s syndrome. On Saturdays I take him to the park so his parents can have a break from watching him. The state calls it respite care and pays me minimum wage through an agency. It barely pays for the gas I spend in a typical afternoon with him.

Eventually, I know, I’ll have to say goodbye to James. An opportunity will come my way that’s too…


When experiencing the divine turned sour, my best comfort was absurdity

In The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt draws a bright line between awe at nature, psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, and man’s experience (whether religious or secular) of the divine.

Something about the vastness and beauty of nature makes the self feel small and insignificant, and anything that shrinks the self creates an opportunity for spiritual experience.

Drugs that create an altered mental state have an obvious usefulness in marking off sacred experiences…. But there is something special about the phenethylamines — the drug class that includes LSD and psilocybin. …


What a fan-made video game hack taught me about how I tanked my YouTube company

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Author’s Note: I sold my ownership stake and resigned my position as CEO of Team Four Star in early 2019. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views and opinions of T.F.S. Entertainment LLC or any of its current owners or employees.

My YouTube company, Team Four Star, was failing, and I didn’t understand why.

In Dream Job Burnout, Thomas P Seager, PhD writes about how people who actually attain the “dream job” of professional YouTuber or Twitch streamer often find the reality much more challenging than the dream would imply.

Burnout is…


And how submerging my body in near-freezing water taught me to dance.

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Trust me, that duck is in AGONY.

When I tell people that I own an ice bath — a tub with a cooling element capable of keeping water at near-freezing temperatures even in the Phoenix, Arizona summer — and that I take the equivalent of a polar bear plunge several times a week, they usually ask me an obvious question: why?

The first time I took an ice bath was at a leadership retreat. I’d just watched a male friend get into it before me, and I’d be lying if I said there was any motivation beyond social pressure and competitiveness.

The icy water was immediate agony…


Finding the right words for Fatherhood

When I was very small, my father sometimes told me:

I still love you even when you are bad.

This was his habit after scolding me — although it’s possible he said it only once and it made such an impact that I remember it happening multiple times.

Memory is a tricky thing, especially such early memories, and it’s hard to be certain what actually happened. What I misremembered at the time, and what I’m misremembering now, may be the imposition of adult priorities onto a reconstruction of my childhood.

I’m sure his intention was to reassure me that his…


Why we must give the dead their due… ESPECIALLY when “there’s nothing you could have done.”

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Why do we obsess over the deaths of loved ones, even (or perhaps especially) when we were powerless to prevent their deaths?

On the face of it, grief seems to be a rather useless emotion. Wouldn’t it be easier and more productive — not to mention more pleasant — if we could just get over a loss smoothly and move on to the next phase of life with a minimum of fuss?

In The Nature of Grief, evolutionary psychologist John Archer characterizes grief as a “byproduct” of the human attachment system. …


We have to save the ones we love. Especially the ones who can’t be saved.

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My father, a retired army officer, does volunteer work as a court-appointed special advocate for at-risk youth. It takes a visible toll on him. He complains about it whenever I see him. But he keeps doing it.

He works with young men and boys-- probably some young women and girls too, but he only talks about the young men and boys-- with drug problems, with discipline problems. Whose parents beat them or neglect them or abandon them.

My younger brother died at the age of 27. I couldn’t save him. My parents couldn’t save him. My sisters couldn’t save him…


Why is there an emotional disconnect between men and women? For me, it goes back to my parents.

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There’s a prevailing cultural narrative that men are closed off from their emotions, that they need to learn to open up and display them like women do. To the extent that anyone thinks to look for a cause for this beyond men simply being flawed, defective creatures, it tends to be chalked up to being shamed for having feelings by their fathers or male peers or otherwise victimized by the patriarchy.

Jason Stauffer writes about the “emotional illiteracy” of the mental health community toward men in The Emotional Male. Thomas P Seager, PhD tackles the topic from the perspective of…


I thought I was searching for the mother of my children, but I need to find their father first.

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In a lot of ways, the story of my twenties is the story of how I tried to follow “the rules” — the rules of polite society, the rules of the university I attended, the rules of the church I grew up in — and how I became increasingly frustrated when none of those instructions got me the results they promised. In Origin Stories of a YouTube CEO, I write about how I broke the unspoken rules of the educational system and the job market and was rewarded for it.

There’s another set of rules, one that governs relationships between…


A Freudian Tale of How I Symbolically Killed My Father By Supplanting Him as De Facto Patriarch

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It’s easy to resent someone — a parent, a teacher, a boss — for not leading the way you want.

It’s a lot harder to take the lead yourself. But the rewards are greater.

I don’t remember a time when my father and I weren’t fighting. When I talk to him about it now, he says he can recall one incident that “set the tone” for our relationship. I take his word for it, but I can’t recall it. I was too young. As far back as I can remember, Dad and I were fighting.

I call them “fights,” but…

Ben Creighton

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