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Kenneth Middleton has lived much of his life battling depression. It wasn’t until he discovered Buddhism, and found the love of his life, that he was able to find some stability and peace. “I like to walk down the street, find a quiet spot and just listen to the wind blow, to the birds sing, the cars go by — I call it quiet noise.” On any given day, 41-year-old Kenneth Middleton can be found meditating, preparing to start his day. “In Georgetown, there’s a lot of woods,” he said. “There’s a small creek; I listen to the water and it lets me float away.” Originally from Oklahoma, Middleton lived with his mother until age 6 when his mother gave him up. After his father passed away from stomach cancer when he was 17, Middleton went to live with his grandmother in Washington, D.C. A year and a half later, Middleton got

his first apartment and began working at the Department of Employment Ser- vices. However, he quit after about a year after falling into depression. “I don’t remember most of it,” he said. “I was in real dark times.” While battling depression, Middleton went back to live with his grandmother, whom he said was like a “second mom.” While living at home, Middleton picked up different odd jobs from masonry and carpentry to food service. “If you put it in my hands, I can pretty much fix it,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of jobs, I’m literally a jack of all trades.” At age 26, Middleton got back on his feet, working his way up from a dish- washer to a server at TGI Fridays. Middleton also worked at the Manor House as a cook and waiter, as well as working for UPS. However, he soon fell into an- another bout of depression. “That one lasted a good five years,” he explained. “I was taking medication, but it didn’t help; it would just put me to sleep.”

During his second bout of depression, Middleton began living in the Center for Creative Non-Violence in 2000, not wanting to “burden” his grandmother any longer. During his stay at the CCNV, Middleton pretty much kept to himself. “I was a perpetual loner; I didn’t re- ally hang around a lot of people,” he said. “I was always a lone wolf.” Middleton floated from shelter to shelter, picking up odd jobs to make ends meet. In 2005 he returned to the CCNV having saved a little money, and tried to get back on track. Then he fell in with the wrong crowd. “It kind of spiraled out of control,” he said. “That’s when I did a lot of soul-searching.” Middleton began looking to religion; although he was raised Baptist, he never followed the religion as an adult. He researched different religions from Christianity to Wiccan, in search of a faith that would work best for him. And then he discovered Buddhism. “Buddhism was more my style,” he explained. “It made me realize that all I had to do was let go, let go of the pain and everything that was hurting me.” Middleton began reading books about Buddhism, doing mantras and meditating. While there are many traditions of Buddhism according to Middleton, he identifies himself as a Pure Earth Buddhist. “We do the same thing that other Buddhists do; we live our lives the way that’s comfortable for us,” he said. Middleton lived for a year and a half with a friend, however, he returned to the CCNV in 2009 due to their conflict- ing religious beliefs. Two years later, Middleton began dating Rashawn Bowser, an old friend he had met in 2004. Four months ago, the two became engaged. “We click better than any female I’ve ever been with; I find my peace through Rashawn,” he said. “She’s the love of my life.” Although Middleton is currently train- ing Bowser in Buddhism, he says he prefers to meditate alone. Middleton, who has not fallen back into depression since becoming a Buddhist, says that the religion has given him more peace than he has ever had in his life. “It’s taught me how to get in touch with my true feelings about what life really is,” he said. “I’m able to love myself and love others in a way that I’ve never been able to before.”