Ten fifty. It again occurred to me that sobriety is the open highway. Addiction to alcohol is the severest form of attachment to material things; to drink is to desire. Once free of desire, a person is free of everything and is close to what Hindus call moksha, spiritual liberation. After that, life is a big adventure into uncharted places. There are no more must see movies or must read books; no must listen songs. Your mind becomes a more accurate mirror on the world. Even on the darkest, stormiest day or night, sobriety is intrinsically light. I sometimes wonder what in the world I’m doing, and where going, but I remind myself that it’s only been two years, and the rest of my life calls me towards something entirely different. I must trust nature to lead me where it will, and know that it’s for the best. The important thing is to move forward and not back, keep your eyes focused ahead. Whatever happens, be fearless and go with it. The worst that can transpire is you die, but even then, your death will be like that of the yogis.
One thirty five. My brother is one to wallow in guilt and despair, but that’s not for me anymore. I did my penance for some imagined crime— whatever it was. Families are adept at imposing feelings of obligation to the other members. Somehow I got the idea to liberate myself from futile self punishment. It was a form of masochism that served no purpose whatsoever. What was the point in hurting myself when nobody cares anyway? The only lease on life I have is myself. Self harm is absurd because the only subject is oneself. The existence of a world relies solely on the knower. It is bad philosophy to compromise quality of life, and suicide is the ultimate fallacy. Nothingness is inevitable, so why hurry it up? One would have to feel hopelessly trapped to consider an end to existence. The potential for a happy life seems so far away. What it comes down to is facing your own freedom. Sometimes anything seems preferable to a big change. We are faced with making sacrifices in order to find the greater good. I sacrificed my family’s approval. I realized that I would never obtain it anyway. Whose values did I value, theirs or mine? Which counted for more? But the only arbiter of value is ultimately oneself, and that’s perfectly okay.
Man, my birthday is only two days away! I still love having a birthday. I don’t dread turning another year older. What is death to me? Epicurus said death is nothing, and had the slogan stamped on coins for people to carry around. In his worldview, everything, even the gods, was made of atoms. The gods are of no concern to us because they’re too busy being blissful to interfere in human affairs. Nor was Epicurus a shallow pleasure seeker, but said that with some cakes and water, he could compete with Zeus in happiness. It isn’t so much the pursuit of pleasure as the avoidance of pain in his ethics… So what’s another year older to me? At least I don’t feel that I’m wasting my life. I’ve minimized the biggest pain, and that was guilt. Of all the emotions, guilt is the least useful. We need to get over the delusion that feeling guilty is righteous. Guilt is the chief cause of depression, from what I’ve seen. It is entirely disposable, so let’s remove this yoke from our shoulders and dare to be happy and free. Happy Birthday to me, big 53!
I wrote a thoughtful reply to the Daily Devotions from this morning. I just said it honestly, like the fool I am. It might make someone think a bit. Joe wrote something trite about letting go, something predictable and conventional. My response came from a solid education and from experience. From intelligence, basically. I’m growing less afraid of exhibiting intelligence lately. My brother used to hate me for “flashing brilliance,” but that’s tough shit for him. He used to lecture that I mustn’t open my mouth. It was just a family rule. I defy them now. When I have something to say, I bloody well say it. It may kill a conversation, but it’s better to speak than not. Don’t we all have an equal right to free speech? I remember when I used to dream about trying to talk with my mouth sewn shut. It was a recurring nightmare I had before I got active on WordPress. I didn’t care anymore. I was sick of being disenfranchised. I did the right thing, and my family can go squat.
Ten twenty. Katie called me five hours ago to make sure I was okay. That was nice. It seems to me that since a significant amount of recovery time, treasures continue to fall in my lap. I get the freedom and respect I always wanted. Life is an upward spiral rather than downwards. This is what sobriety can do for anybody. It’s a delusion to think that drunkenness is freedom and happiness. Addiction is bondage and suffering. It only takes having done both to be able to contrast them. After my crucible in the trailer was over, good things started coming my way. And my cattle dog Aesop is the coolest friend in the world.
Quarter of two. Every time Dominic and I meet at the Even Hotel, Janet Jackson’s “Escapade” can be heard on the PA. It’s a song of 1989, which for me is meaningful because in the fall of that year I also studied James Joyce. I know it’s only my own mind putting stuff together, but what a great thing! My soul longs for joy and happiness after eons of guilt and despair. Could it be that life can finally be as I desire it? The fact is that people are always free within a certain set of circumstances. Moreover, we can choose our emotions at any given time. Happiness comes from inside. And then, to what extent we can, we change the world around us. Some situations will always be sad, but we have the freedom not to go there. Memories of my mother make me happy. It doesn’t matter that my siblings despised her. My life isn’t theirs to control. The only soul living inside my body is me. And I alone am the arbiter and judge of value. All of us are alone with our lives, yet alone together. Sometimes there are connections when everything makes sense. Voila Janet Jackson, James Joyce, and job search with Dominic at the Even Hotel…
Four thirty. I fell into a depression a few hours ago. My power as an individual had waned to a low point. But now I see that my individuality is exactly what I need to get through this life. I don’t care for collectivism of the Jungian kind. I value personal freedom a la Sartre. This means the liberty to expand my use of the language any way I want. Freedom in the abstract is just that. No freedom, no hope for the future. My perceptions are my own, and I believe in original thought, long after the legacy of Plato. Some people say don’t reinvent the wheel, but I think the wheel is just a circle, and circularity entails the end of progress. Mostly right now I want my house back, but what it represents doesn’t have to be reunion with my family or with anybody. Let’s overthrow Trump and get over regression to the 1950s American way. What makes people want to live in the past? Young people hold the key to our future; let them be heard and let them lead! I can’t tolerate the bondage of family anymore. Sandburg said the past is a bucket of ashes, and that’s how I began sobriety this time. It wasn’t my intention to curve around and rejoin my sister’s people. Rather it was to empower myself and give myself a voice to speak out about right and wrong. I hate the racism I see in the world. I hate the intolerance I encounter of mentally ill people. And homeless people deserve respect and dignity as human beings. Life should be about equality and freedom and justice. I deem it an atrocity that old conservatives control the world with an iron fist, and a fistful of cash. What do the young have to say about that? Let them be heard… In my personal family dynamics, I am the youngest of three, and the one who tends to be squelched by the others. But the youngest one is also the most independent, the freest spirit. I refuse to be kept down and forced to conform. When the old ways are broken, they need fixing. I’m not sure what I would do to change the world, but I know I need to be free from my dysfunctional family. They keep reeling me in, only to have me break away again. Is there a pattern here to see? I was always rock and roll and rebellious youth to my folks. I don’t see that ever being eradicated in me. The spirit comes from the devil, perhaps, but that’s the way of innovation and progress. It doesn’t scare me anymore because it’s part of the grand scheme of things, even in my horoscope. And I see continuity of rebelliousness throughout my whole life. Just put the bass guitar in my hands and I’ll make you dance… When I’m back in my house and things are average again, I will practice my bass every day, whip my chops into shape. Then eventually something like order will be restored to my life, depression gone.