Play Misty for Me (2)

July 29, 2020

Continued from previous…

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This too shall pass your mother liked to say, even if she didn’t believe it. But she was right. Mist or fog, it evaporates. At times you embrace sadness, its depth and gravitas. But like an old friend he can overstay his welcome. Then you have to wait him out. Drag him along on your errands. Enduring his sourpuss and cynicism. Sometimes, you might ditch him on a hike. He couldn’t keep up in the gym either. If those things failed, you brought him to a meeting, tossing him center circle with everyone else’s shit.

Relief comes. And when it does you embrace it. Sing its song for as long as you can, feel your body electrified by it. Such joy is a blessing. And fleeting. A feminine spirit, she does as she pleases. An ephemeral pink cloud, you keep the window open for her.

You do miss the excitability of grandiosity. But ridding this was a fair price to pay for the leveling of valleys. Roller coasters are thrilling but no way to live. Soberly, you tread flat terrain.

But still…

There is the matter of your lesser addictions. Gluttony. Lust. It’s paradoxical, leaning in to them while turning away. You cannot resist the siren’s song.

More content coming soon!

Play Misty for Me

July 27, 2020

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Everyone experiences situational depression. Conflict. Unresolved resentments. Sometimes it really is just the humidity. Having a bad day. You either accept the situation or change it. Regardless, it always ends. It is not clinical. Professional help and medicine are seldom required. What you are experiencing is neither clinical nor situational. Sadness descends upon you like mist. By no means pleasant it isn’t debilitating either. You can see through it. You can operate heavy machinery. You probably won’t drink over it.

Many people insist on finding a culprit for their misery: someone or something to blame. The world is filled with people making this mistake. One feels like shit because of a spouse, a boss, a relative, a neighbor, the President of the United States. You know better than to assign blame for melancholy. Yes. You’d like to make the blues situational. Then you could rectify the situation or be its victim. For years, you were the blindfolded child swinging madly for a target. Creating situations to meet your depression was understandable… and also idiotic.

You now have healthy ways to mitigate woe. AA taught. Others you picked up all by yourself. Be of service. Go for a run. Pray. Basically, do anything but wallow in it. You cannot think your way out of depression. If anything, thinking caused it. In the wild, animals do not get depressed because they do not sit around thinking. Food and shelter is their constant priority, their only priority. Put a bear in a zoo and it becomes depressed, anxiously pacing back and forth, sullen and surly. Domesticated, it turns neurotic.

Your mother was (and maybe still) clinically depressed. She has spent her whole life (and so yours) dealing with this problem. You read somewhere that far more women are clinically depressed than men. Maybe that’s because historically women have been domesticated more than men, anxiously pacing back and forth in their kitchens, sullen and surly in equal measures.

To be Continued.

Bodily Functions (1)

July 16, 2020

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Your body loves to tell you how old it is. It complains. Varying intermittent pains in your back, knees and shoulders. Twinges you feel upon rising. Parts grow bigger (nose, prostrate, hairs in your ear) even as you get smaller (5’ 8” from 5’ 10”). A shrinking bladder forces you out of bed. Or is it an expanding prostrate? Likely a combination, another one-two punch to the body. An incessant gurgling inside your stomach, like an old furnace, churns and groans, doing its job, but inefficiently and unpleasantly. Sometimes when you sit on the toilet you emit only gas. Ten full seconds! Surely that is a record. You think of capturing one of these lengthy farts on your iPhone then playing it for your daughters, who still get a kick out of such things. Why not? They watch crude and vulgar videos on You Tube. Girls, look what daddy can do! It would break the Internet. You imagine the terror on your wife’s face. How could you? You could.

Bodily functions have become more important. Maybe pervasive is the better word. When did taking a dump become such a triumph? Some years ago you began to feel an itch in your ears. You stuck your pinky finger in to remedy the matter and pulled out a large yellow flake. Now you regularly use the top of a ballpoint pen or even a bent paper clip to rake your inner ear. Pieces of wax adhere to the metal and plastic, which you find satisfying and troubling in equal measures. Within hours the buildup is there again. Sticking foreign objects in your ear has become routine. It’s gross but not enough to make you stop. Not even close. As a kid you were the same way about scratching mosquito bites, until they bled and scabbed over. Then you would pick the scabs. On and on that went. You have blemishes on your ankles that are 40 years old.

To be continued…

Switcheroo

June 22, 2020

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Remove the Christian gravy from AA and it’s just a program of substitutions, a replacement strategy for better living. Replacing barrooms with fellowship, selfishness with service. Honesty replaces duplicity. And so on. First and foremost, however, one had to replace the booze. Here Bill Wilson made a crucial decision: the surrogate for alcohol would be God, later amended to a Higher Power, as you understand him. The amending was due to the polarizing nature of God. Bill understood (correctly) most drunks; “self-serving in the extreme” would be put off “turning their wills over” to a deity, especially one from their neighborhood church. The amendment was added to make the program easy to swallow, like booze. To this day the God thing remains the biggest obstacle for people entering the program. Certainly, it was for you. To get there you had to concede that the bottle had become your higher power, literally bringing you to your knees. That was the easy part. You were powerless over alcohol. Duh. Replacing this Godhead, however, would not be so easy. It required serious magic from a talented magician… God. Even if you didn’t believe in Him, Her or It, the grandness of the plan made sense. How could it be otherwise and work?

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More truth.

“So, me not crying is steeling myself against future pain?” You phrase it as a question but it comes out an answer.

Mia confirms it. “You developed a way to cope with pain, to numb yourself. Which is why you don’t cry in AA meetings and you close your eyes when others do.”

Eyes Wide Shut is the name of the last film Stanley Kubrick directed before he died, a strange story about a couple confronting their sexual fantasies. You don’t remember the movie very well, or having liked it, but the title resonates with you now. The logline: Sometimes a man can see more clearly with his Eyes Wide Shut.

You look at the clock. Your fifty minutes have evaporated. Mia let the session go long. The courtesy embarrasses you. You violated the contract. You rise, quickly.

“Sit down,” she says. “I know what time it is.” Mia knew how you felt regarding this relationship and your desire never to take advantage of it. She was also aware of your propensity for flight when things got real.

You sit.

“I have a cushion between appointments.” Mia explains. “Normally I use the time to reset, to go the bathroom, whatever. But in this case I’m making an exception. Because I feel this is important…” She looks at you, directly. “Are you okay?”

At first you don’t answer. Then, softly: “Is this intimacy?”

Mia continues looking right at you, with compassion, with the eyes of a caregiver. “You are not a sociopath.”

To be continued…