I was born in 1979 in Milwaukee, WI, USA. My father is a Black American from Arkansas and my mother is a White American from Iowa. I have a brother two years younger than me who I grew up with. My parents divorced shortly after my brother was born and we lived with our mother but saw our father regularly. My earliest memory is being in a toddler swimming class when I was two years old and I swam competitively all the way through high school. The other sport I played from very young through to high school was soccer.
The first video game I can remember playing was Pitfall (released in 1982). I was immediately hooked and video games have been a big part of my identity ever since. Another major influence happened on my first viewing of the original Karate Kid movie (released 1984). This movie put me on the path of a philosophically focused martial artist that I continue to walk today.
In 1990, with the help of my aunt, our family got our first computer. A 386DX with 1MB of RAM and a 50 meg hard drive. This wasn’t just my first computer, it was also my first video gaming system as we weren’t allowed to have a console growing up. My first video game was Codename: Iceman. I picked it out because I really liked James Bond movies and the cover of the box looked like a James Bond movie. Having a computer in 1990 required a basic level of technical knowledge to navigate and upgrade so this is where I developed proficiency with computers.
Our family wasn’t religious, but we attended a Unitarian church growing up. Our parents were very politically active and continue to be today. They were both members of the Communist party as early adults and I picked up many of the ideological principles of Communism both directly and indirectly growing up. Since then I’ve self-studied a wide spectrum of political and economic ideologies and theories.
I took some karate classes in grade school at the local YMCA but my study of martial arts got really serious just before high school when I started taking Chinese kungfu at a local kungfu school. Shifting my focus from karate (Japanese based) to kung fu also sparked my interest in Chinese culture and language. During high school, I also received a copy of the Tao Te Ching, the foundational book for the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. This doubled my desire to study Chinese language and culture. I began studying Chinese in 1998 during my first year of college and I’ve been studying on and off ever since then.
Around this same time I received a copy of Siddhartha, a fictional story about the founder of Buddhism, by Herman Hesse. This sparked my interest in the concept of enlightenment. Buddha’s enlightenment is the kind of enlightenment which transcends the suffering brought on by having material desires. This interest in enlightenment has remained.
In 1999 I had my first manic episode followed by my first hospitalization and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 1. Since then I’ve had a manic episode and been hospitalized more than ten times. Bipolar has been a constant companion on my journey through life ever since then with my most recent hospitalization occurring in 2018.
1999 was also the year I shifted my martial arts focus from kung fu to tai chi. The most appealing thing about tai chi was its connection to Taoist philosophy. In 2002, I met the person who would become my primary source of tai chi and Taoist knowledge.
I moved to Taiwan in 2002 and got married that same year. In Taiwan, I started blogging, was a regular contributor to a discussion forum for expats, studied Chinese, taught English, and started studying and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I uploaded my first video to YouTube in 2006 and created a viral video later that year. In 2007 I separated from my wife and returned to the US.
From 2007 to 2009 I experienced “peak YouTube”. I had a very active community of viewers, I regularly produced content, and in 2009 I won two noteworthy competitions. One ran by Tim Ferriss (winning a laptop) and on ran by Ford (winning a yet to be released car with free gas for 6 months). I had a manic episode near the end of 2009.
2009 to 2012 could be called “declining YouTube”. The persona I created during my early YouTube years conflicted with the persona who created the persona. Lots of interesting things happened but the most significant thing during this period of time was living with my best friend and tai chi/Taoism student. Together we unlocked many of the “secrets” of our teacher’s style of tai chi.
In 2012, a manic episode prompted moving in with my mother and grandmother in Iowa for a second time except for this time it was more permanent. 2012 to 2015 was filled with reflection and learning to enjoy the slower pace of life in a small town in Iowa. 2015 marked the moment I attempted to make a real shift from the YouTube persona to Casey. That’s when I purchased this domain. In 2015, I started dating my current wife long distance (she was in Taiwan and I was in the US). In 2016, I moved back to Taiwan.
2018 brought the “final battle” between the two personas which I had created in the form of an epic and long-lasting manic episode. 2019 was spent sifting through the rubble.