Tuesday, November 18, 2014

addiction column

Spiritual adventure is sometimes likened to a spiral staircase: The aspirant climbs; s/he is repeatedly at the same place as s/he was at another time -- but 'higher'; I guess this is another way of saying, "same shit, different day." With luck, new perspective improves what is "the same, but different."

And even setting the 'spiritual' to one side, maybe all of anyone's lifetime is like that ... like some kid dressing up in clothes found in a neglected attic ... there are blue things and red things; shoes and boots; coats and hats ... it's all brand new but it's the same old kid.

Today I have to work on the newspaper column that is scheduled to run locally tomorrow. I try to come up with something 'new' for the columns, but, increasingly these days, each seems to be a bit stale, reflecting bits and pieces of the past which, of course, is never really past.

The column is rough-drafted, but not yet out the door, so I have to try to smooth it out -- a small tale of my two sons who went to an open forum at which former Boston Celtics (basketball) player Chris Herren depicted his descent into addiction -- from booze to pills to heroin. I could see the effect the talk had had on my sons: Both seemed lighter and brighter; they were gratefully convinced in a way that all the virtue talk in the world could not convince; they trusted Herren because of his honesty and simultaneously learned that they too could be honest instead of secretive. "He was a straight shooter," one son said without elaborating.

Whatever epiphany seemed to have struck my sons, I too had been in their shoes ... an addicted mother who had joined Alcoholics Anonymous, took me to a meeting, and the three speakers who delivered their sometimes harrowing tales and suggested implicitly that, among other things, it was OK to be yourself, to be honest and confused instead of compliant and right.

It was a blessing. Not that I had the courage to implement what I understood, but only that the possibility existed and the actions of others suggested I might do likewise. There was a lot of confusion to sift through, a lot of residual pain ... but it was OK to be yourself, warts and all. Being compliant and right may be socially desirable, but it can also tear a person limb from limb.

All addictions are pretty much the same -- self-referential in pursuit of peace that never comes because they are self-referential. Whether the condition is a physical ailment or a character flaw hardly makes any difference, the effects are the same.

Anyway, I've got to get cracking on the column....

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