8:05pm – K—- pointed out something serious to me. It was the length of my beard last summer. It indeed looked hideous, but being reminded today was painful. Maybe it’ll motivate me a little. K—- didn’t mean anything vicious. Just told it like it was. I guess I just had to be ready for the truth. C—- also was truthful, tho it hurt. And T—- and P—- were honest — but it was untimely. I would not see it their way at the time because I hadn’t reached my bottom yet. Coming to the top is taking a tremendous amount of time, but hopefully none of it has been wasted. The truth about alcohol is not like Epicurus. This would be merely glamorizing it. No, the truth is ugliness and death. It is disgust and despair. It usually ends in utter demise. But for some reason, I am given another chance — and another, and another, as by the forgiveness of God. The truth of God is the beautiful and alive that thrives from day to day. It is joy and love and honor and courage and strength. But it is the power, also, that raises high the weak and lowly. God’s power transforms these to make them great. Now, as I am being healed, let me remember to thank the healer. Amen.
Ecrivez Votre Nom
Somewhere in my dirty bibliotheque
Is an ancient yellow paperback by Sartre:
Les Jeux Sont Faits for French the second year
and on the title page I wrote my name
as if in blood in 1987.
I argued on exam night that the chips
were NOT down, that les jeux ne sont pas faits,
that the title was ironic, because Sartre
believed that man’s condemned to being free
and responsible for everything that’s done.
I wrote with desperation and with rage
that purple evening in June ’87,
and when the game was done I earned my A+,
mais je ne t’ai pas trouvee,
All the therapy I’ve learned is helping me a lot to cope each day. I don’t stress out like I used to. But the real test will be the capitalist system with all its social Darwinism. Why is it set up so competitively? Outside of the demonic real world, people are kind to each other. We heal each other, help each other. But away from the healing, there’s the lizard world of work. It’s no place for sensitive people and lovers. I’m sort of hoping that the tough world grows more tender. It’s such an oxymoron: we have on one hand the competition of the fittest, and on the other, peace and love. The first is the “real world” of the workweek, the second the savior weekend with church. Sundays are for licking our wounds, thus it seems that every day for me is Sunday as I really try to repair my mind for labor. Alcohol and bad luck happened to me during and after my last work stint. It was never as if I didn’t want to work and contribute. I was sick and could not. Also, I am here to advocate for all the sick who cannot work. We require patience from those who are able to work. No jobless and homeless person, IMO, chooses to be so. All I ask on our behalf is mercy and time. While my ailments are improving, there will always be others still in the boat I was just in. My counselor is right that recovered addicts indeed want to give back after having taken and been healed… I do have to thank God for the use of my verbal faculty thru the whole healing process. I would’ve been up shit creek without a paddle had my logos been wiped out. Without communication, without verbal skills, without words, my life would’ve been forfeit. Thanks be to God for the lifeboat of my good words through the shipwreck of alcoholism. Laudate Dominus.
On this day, I graduate from the Willamette Family recovery program.
Something bugs me inside. Dunno what it is. When I try to sleep, it gets to me. I love the Yes song “Everydays.” “What a baby sees” is an amazing line by Stephen Stills. I must remember to take my homework with me. That’s all. Today seems so final.
I told my therapist what JP had said so many times: “You don’t graduate from alcoholism.” SS asked, “How do YOU feel about that assertion?” I hadn’t thought of that. I’d just taken it as a fact, but now the field is open. AA doesn’t have all the answers, SS is saying. Perhaps today I do graduate from alcoholism? If AA is only an opinion, then maybe so. But there seems something so ominous about leaving my alcoholic past behind. We’re talking about my family, a tradition of alcoholics stretching back for countless generations. What I feel is the weight of those generations being lifted off — if my therapist is right that I make the call. I dared to renounce my family with all of its secret dos and don’ts. To roll it off like a boulder and let it run to the bottom of the hill. So that I, Sisyphus, may climb out of hell! Let the boulder-punishment go and emancipate myself. Who in the world dares do such a thing to his family tradition?
I did, do, and always will.
PS. Special thanks to my readers in India! You guys rock.
I can’t believe the people I know who think money is everything. They live in constant “survival mode” and worry about the dumbest things. I know someone who remembered Maslow’s Triangle, with safety needs on the bottom and self-actualization at the top, upside-down! In his little “hierarchy of needs,” survival mode was the most important. That took my breath away.
The truth, as I understand it, is that the little things have a way of being provided. As long as you have loving friends, and faith in them, you shall not want. I’ve known people who tally favors, i.e., you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours, to doomsday, but for what reason? If you are a good person, the things you need will just come to you. As for the giving, you will never know how much you’ve given others, so never mind tallying little material favors. The best gifts you can give are spiritual. You can make somebody happy just by being yourself. Our nature is to give of our souls to each other.
This is why music and poetry in any form are vitally important. If we could drop our cheeseburgers — and our weapons — long enough to smile and sing together, to harmonize, to love, to dream sweet dreams together, to teach and learn from each other, and all that good hippie truth, don’t you think our needful things will go by the wayside?
But don’t take only my word for it. Go to YouTube and listen to a song you know that makes you happy. “Mm-mm, I’m telling you now / The greatest thing you ever can do now / Is treat a smile to someone who’s blue now / It’s really easy, just a — ” (Robert Plant with Led Zeppelin, “Friends,” Led Zeppelin III, 1970).
Just remember that you and I didn’t put this system here. “We didn’t start the fire / It was always burnin’ since the world’s been turnin’ / We didn’t start the fire / Yeah we didn’t light it, but we’re tryin’ to fight it” (Billy Joel).
We don’t have much time to get it right before we go extinct. But rather than with a whimper, we can go out with a bang…
In 1977, John Wetton, vocalist and bass player best known for fronting Asia, laid down the bass guitar tracks for Bryan Ferry’s solo CD titled In Your Mind. Bryan Ferry was the singer/songwriter for Roxy Music. My email pal from Scotland informed me of this collaboration and sent me the disc. She also gave me a compilation of Roxy Music. I primarily wanted to hear more of Wetton’s virtuoso bass work, having heard his stellar stuff with King Crimson from 1973-74. His main axe was a white ’61 Fender Precision Bass, which I believe is the one heard on In Your Mind. As expected, John’s execution of the songs is adept. I especially like the swaying ballad “One Kiss” and a serious-sounding “Rock of Ages.” On the latter, Wetton sustains a low F octave in one section with a gutteral clank and growl on that old Fender reminiscent of the low G he plays on “Starless” off of King Crimson’s Red (1974). Also on “Rock of Ages,” John plays a lot more notes and seems to have more free reign with the song. Overall, In Your Mind is a bouncy glam album, but apparently not much of a challenge for Wetton’s free lance. He really belonged in the progressive genre with the likes of KC and the late ’80s project U.K. (self-titled; Danger Money; and Night after Night). The Ferry CD was likely the sort where Wetton said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” The result of his contribution is an album that’s a lot of danceable fun and also a chance to marvel at John’s virtuosity on bass guitar. Wetton is no longer with us in body, but his impressive recordings remain to inspire future generations of bass players. He’s my favorite, and I know I’m not alone as a fan.
My quest for Arthurian magic is getting clearer but also more dubious. The same for the “Ideal.” There’s no such thing as magic, howsoever I may wish and search. It all falls into the class of “delusion.” This is at once disappointing and liberating. SS pointed out that the congregation all believe in the magic. I am indeed a “crappy Christian.” But perhaps what is a miracle has been the tenacity of my verbal functioning throughout my battle with psychosis. Words are my higher power. If light cannot enter a black hole, then by contrast, my words did attend me during a long episode of psychosis. I left a record of all of it for posterity. It won’t win me any prizes, for all the pains I took. Still, it is here, my freely given gift to anyone who would like a view to the “inner world of madness.”