The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “addiction”

I Love The Smell of Free Will in the Morning

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I was a coward but, in my defense, most humans are in one way or another. It is in our nature to be afraid – of the unknown and of being known, equally of failing and winning, of loving and of not being loved, of change and of not being able to change.

Perhaps it is an unconscious itch at the back of the skull that leads us, in ways unrecognized, to a lifetime of habits. Or they may be burdensome fears, compelling and crippling, which weigh heavily upon us, miring us and slowing our progress. Or perhaps they are blinding, oppressive which drive us into dark corners and onto malevolent detours, hijacking our lives.

To be conscious of the fear and the ways in which it shapes us is to finally enter into the terrain where dominion is ceded to no one and nothing; where the blossoms of free will perfume the air.

 

image: Simon Valcourt  https://www.facebook.com/simonvalcourtartiste

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The Eye of the Needle

eye of needle camels

 

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To achieve great wealth and power in a human lifetime, one must be almost single-minded in such a pursuit, desiring these things above everything else. These wants are driven by the ego — the gratification of rising above and having dominion over others. The satisfaction derives from the mistaken notion that greatness in one’s lifetime makes one superior to their fellow man.

But human achievement is not equal to spiritual achievement. In fact,  one usually precludes the other. The more one appeases the ego, the less one is able to develop spiritually.

Observe  the very rich, the very powerful — politicians and kings, religious leaders and giants of industry.  It is easy to recognize how disconnected many of them are from the purest part of their own souls.

They fill the void with the spiritual equivalent of empty calories – material goods, status, , with the game of bending others to their will. And although they may have greater ability to shape the world to their whim and even direct the course of history, once on the other side they hold no special status except as having been a tool to move along the story of humankind;  a tool of the universe.

However the desire for greatness is not the only way in which humans cater to the ego. Submission to any of the various manifestations of the self  —  insecurity, fear, guilt, desire, grief, anger, pain — prevents  the soul from ascending, from connecting with the greater universe. This is what blocks the soul’s path to true peace

To covet anything –even serenity and spirituality — is to accede to the ego.

sculpture by Russian artist Nikolai Aldunin

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days, and they are getting more and more interesting. I promise! Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward and/or share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

Robin…Was That You?

first published November 2, 2014

Robin_Williams-3

 

Last night I had a very vivid dream about Robin Williams.  In the past, I would have simply assumed it was merely a dream but these days, I’m not so sure.  I figured I’d let the readers decide:

He came into a dream version of my apartment.  I met him near the door.   He immediately let me know he had one line of coke left and that was it…forever.   Then he graciously offered it to me.  I debated seriously whether to take it or not. I’ve never been  a fan of the stuff. I’d done a few lines here and there, back in the 80’s when it was all the rage, if it was offered to me at a party, but it was never my thing. I never sought it out or bought it for myself. I haven’t even seen the stuff in decades.

I looked at Robin and realized that if HE did that line, it would destroy him. It would likely re-trigger his addiction and take him down a dark path. If I did it, however,  it would likely be a pleasant but ultimately insignificant experience for me.  So, I accepted it as graciously as he’d offered it in order to save him (although in the dream, I never actually did the line.)

He was very hyper anyway,  and was walking around my apartment,  scoping out the place.  He started to look through the CDs in the shelves and drawers under the stereo.   Now, most of our CDs are in a 400 disc changer,  so any albums NOT in the stereo are the rejects.    He somehow made himself very small and crawled deep into the cabinet.  He kept calling out names of CDs and chastising me for my bad taste in music. I kept trying to explain that yes,  those albums ARE awful.  That’s why they’re not in the player!

Finally, he crawls out, still  bitching about my music but now he is naked.  He is NOT an attractive naked guy. He’s kind of barrel-chested and very hairy.  I give him a towel to wrap around himself, but he doesn’t seem interested in covering up.

“Ya got any Pat Boone?” he asks.  “The early stuff.  I just discovered it and I’m really into it.”  (And HE has the nerve to comment on MY musical taste!?)  I do not, but I’m wondering if perhaps I should have a listen. Who knows, maybe I missed something good.

Meanwhile,  Robin is running around my apartment completely naked,   checking out everything (and in my real apartment there is quite a lot to check out!) He’s opening doors and going into all the rooms; poking through drawers and closets.

Finally, he goes over to a door which opens into my neighbors’ apartment (like in adjoining hotel rooms. But this is a dream door, only.)  I try to stop him.  I doubt my neighbors would be happy to find a hairy, naked guy in their living room… but he plows ahead, unstoppable.

Now we are in the living room of a real life couple friend of mine (who are NOT my neighbors.) They are initially taken aback,  but I introduce him and they seem OK with having him there.

The end.

***

What does it mean?  Did he visit me within my dream or was it all a just a function of my sleeping synapses?  I have no idea.

Anyone know if he was into Pat Boone before he died? 😀

________

More on dreams, next time…

No Regrets

New Post!

 

Nicolas Bertin (1667/1668–1736)

Nicolas Bertin (1667/1668–1736)

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While alive, I was a person of enormous appetites, consuming in great, greedy bites. I wanted to press my heart to its limits; to ride the beast of life bareback. I made no excuses for my desires. I took lovers and when they no longer satisfied, I moved on. I drank fine wine and excellent whiskey, but never so much that I could not enjoy the next day.    I traveled. I hustled. I painted and danced and wrote. My lust was contagious. Most of the people I met along the way were happy to help me along on my quest, for they lived vicariously through me. I did what they wished they were not afraid to do.

I wasn’t always there for those who needed me, but those closest to me understood why I could not be.

Maybe I was selfish. I was called that a few times.   But I had my own mission, my own plan, and I could not be held back by the small obligations and petty desires of others.

I always assumed I’d die in some exotic location or in the midst of an insane physical challenge, but somehow, I lived to be quite old, and died peacefully at home, surrounded by those who had helped me fly.

It was a good life…not without its pain and disappointments…but lived well and to the fullest.   Perhaps I could have done things a differently to achieve a different outcome, but I did what made sense in for me in every moment.  Anything otherwise would have made it a different life.

 

Robin…Was That You?

Robin_Williams-3

 

Last night I had a very vivid dream about Robin Williams.  In the past, I would have simply assumed it was merely a dream but these days, I’m not so sure.  I figured I’d let the readers decide:

He came into a dream version of my apartment.  I met him near the door.   He immediately let me know he had one line of coke left and that was it…forever.   Then he graciously offered it to me.  I debated seriously whether to take it or not. I’ve never been  a fan of the stuff. I’d done a few lines here and there, back in the 80’s when it was all the rage, when it was offered to me at a party, but it was never my thing. I never sought it out or bought it for myself. I haven’t even seen the stuff in decades.

I looked at Robin and realized that if HE did that line, it would destroy him. It would likely re-trigger his addiction and take him down a dark path. If I did it, however,  it would likely be a pleasant but ultimately insignificant experience for me.  So, I accepted it as graciously as he’d offered it in order to save him (although in the dream, I never actually did the line.)

He was very hyper anyway,  and was walking around my apartment,  scoping out the place.  He started to look through the CDs in the shelves and drawers under the stereo.   Now, most of our CDs are in a 400 disc changer,  so any albums NOT in the stereo are the rejects.    He somehow made himself very small and crawled deep into the cabinet.  He kept calling out names of CDs and chastising me for my bad taste in music. I kept trying to explain that yes,  those albums ARE awful.  That’s why they’re not in the player!

Finally, he crawls out, still  bitching about my music but now he is naked.  He is NOT an attractive naked guy. He’s kind of barrel-chested and very hairy.  I give him a towel to wrap around himself, but he doesn’t seem interested in covering up.

“Ya got any Pat Boone?” he asks.  “The early stuff.  I just discovered it and I’m really into it.”  (And HE has the nerve to comment on MY musical taste!?)  I do not, but I’m wondering if perhaps I should have a listen. Who knows, maybe I missed something good.

Meanwhile,  Robin is running around my apartment completely naked,   checking out everything (and in my real apartment there is quite a lot to check out!) He’s opening doors and going into all the rooms; poking through drawers and closets.

Finally, he goes over to a door which opens into my neighbors’ apartment (like in adjoining hotel rooms. But this is a dream door, only.)  I try to stop him.  I doubt my neighbors would be happy to find a hairy, naked guy in their living room… but he plows ahead, unstoppable.

Now we are in the living room of a real life couple friend of mine (who are NOT my neighbors.) They are initially taken aback,  but I introduce him and they seem OK with having him there.

The end.

***

What does it mean?  Did he visit me within my dream or was it all a just a function of my sleeping synapses?  I have no idea.

Anyone know if he was into Pat Boone before he died? 😀

________

More on dreams, next time…

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days, and they are getting more and more interesting. I promise! Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward and/or share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

A Bottle In Front of Me

 

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I had my first drink when I was around ten. My parents were having a party and I sneaked out of my room and watched them through the bannister on the upstairs landing. The adults all seemed so much more sophisticated than they did when I saw them during the day.  The women, in their little black dresses and high-heeled shoes. The bursts of laughter from various corners as people told jokes or funny stories or made a clever remark. I watched a neighbor slip a kiss to a man who wasn’t her husband. There was music playing, and the sound of ice clinking in glasses. People danced and snuggled on the couch. They were happy. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be part of that sophisticated world.

It was late when the last guest left. My parents ignored the mess and went up to bed, leaving the cleanup for morning. Once they were in their room, I tiptoed downstairs. I could still smell the mingle of perfume, cigarette smoke and human pheromones.

I picked up a glass that had an inch or so of some kind of liquor – I’m not sure what it was. I sat on a high stool near the small bar in the corner of the living room and in my pajamas,  imagined having a conversation with several sophisticated people at once. I imagined them all laughing at something witty I’d just said. I picked up the glass and had a sip.

The taste was awful but at the same time, it was as if a key had slipped into a lock and opened something inside my head. A rush of chemistry surged through my blood. I felt complete in a way I’d never felt before. It was as if I’d been missing this but only now just knew it.

This was a secret the adults were trying to keep from us kids! It was a rite of passage, an invitation into adulthood, to finally be legally old enough to drink sometime in my late teens.

I wasn’t going to wait nearly a decade to be able to feel that way again. I didn’t want to live without it.

From that point on, to drink was both an act of pleasure and of defiance. I wanted it and I was not going to let any  rules get in the way of my having it.  I wondered what other secrets the grownups were keeping from me.

It was around then that I stopped trusting what others told me about “good” and “bad.” Who decided which was which? Why did I have to go along with the rest of the world, anyway?

I started the way many alcoholics do:  I raided my parents’ liquor cabinet. I started at the back, with the weirder stuff that they rarely touched. By the time they got around to it,   they would never remember how much had been left in the bottle. So it was crème de menthe, peach schnapps. Pretty awful stuff, especially straight up.

From there, I moved up to the gin and vodka which I replaced by volume with water. If they noticed, I never found out. I was careful not to replace too much.

I did the same with my friends’ parents’ liquor cabinets. Some of them had bottles I’d never seen before in my parents’ bar. Foreign, unpronounceable names. Years and numbers, as if they were something special. They seemed exotic.

I had a French teacher when I was 15.  By the end of the first week, I knew she was an alcoholic.   I recognized the signs.   I’d see her around in the morning and she’d seem normal, but by the time I sat in her class in the afternoon,  she was already a bit drunk.  She’d slur her words;  lose track of her thoughts;  bob and weave a bit when she walked.   I quickly figured out this meant she kept a bottle close at hand.

I watched her classroom, and when it was empty, I crept in in and searched her desk.  There it was,  in the lower left hand drawer — a small bottle of vodka.

I took it. I had no fear of being caught.  I knew she would never, could never, report it stolen.  Anyway, she was an adult. At worst, for her a missing bottle was an inconvenience and the loss of a some pocket money.  I told myself I was doing a service to my fellow students — she’d be sober for at least one afternoon’s classes.

I knew she’d replace it; I knew she couldn’t be without.   Several days later, I stole it again.   It took her a week or so to realize someone was taking her desk bottle; that she hadn’t just misplaced it or finished it and forgotten to buy more.  When I went to look for it the next time, it wasn’t there.  I figured she’d hidden it somewhere else.  She needed a few shots to get through the afternoon, and she needed easy access to it.  It took me a couple of days to locate the new hiding place, and that was only because I didn’t have much time to search.

It became a game.  She would find a new spot, and I would look until I found it. (It rarely took me more than a week.)  I drank and entertained myself for the entire school year playing cat and mouse with that one teacher.

As I got older, I  became more creative about finding ways to drink.   I also started to know more people who were above legal drinking age. I was able to exchange favors – sexual and otherwise – for a bottle or two.

Beer would do in a pinch, but I’d developed a preference for vodka which had the benefit of not really smelling on the breath. I realized this was why my French teacher preferred it.

By the time I was of drinking age myself, I’d learned quite a few tricks about how to drink for free. Mainly, it helped to be funny and charming, to know a lot of good stories and jokes. That’s how one got invited to all the parties.  And when you’re entertaining, people always want to ply you with liquor.

I was The Drunk at every party. Sometimes, I was the only drunk guest. But I never got sappy or obnoxious. Even in my alcoholic haze, I never lost control. I was still able to be funny. Sure, I slurred my words and occasionally knocked things over, but I never vomited on anyone’s rug (or in anyone’s bathroom, either, for that matter.) I never said or did anything that was hurtful. I would often get very affectionate. Liquor made me happy; it made me love the world and myself and all of mankind. Sometimes, I’d lose track of others’ conversation and became confused about what they were talking about. I’d make a comment about what I thought they were discussing when in fact I had missed the point entirely.  In turn, they were confused by my remarks because to them they made no sense.  Of course they made sense to me, based on what I believed they were talking about.   I developed a reputation for saying these crazy, off-topic things.   But they made people laugh, so they kept me around.

This was how I lived my life.

I had a decent career which enabled me to support myself.  Ultimately, however,  it was always about the next drink. I never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved the feeling I got from liquor.

I only dated other alcoholics because the sober ones always pushed me to quit.  Yes, I was an alcoholic, but quite a functional one.  I saw no need to stop something that gave me so much pleasure.

But just because my life was relatively functional, didn’t mean there wasn’t damage – to my body, to my brain to my resistance. I got old, fast.   The best thing that could have happened to me would have been a small car accident or a crazy drunken tirade in the wrong company or an arrest for some inebriated infraction.   Any one of those might have served as a wake-up call.

Instead I managed to live in the no-man’s land of functional alcoholism. I never fully acknowledged to myself how my craving for liquor was stronger than anything else inside me.   My entire life,  I chased chemical spirituality. I was beneath any true understanding or enlightenment.  And that was the tragedy of my life.

____

 addendum:  I should add that I, myself, do not drink nor have I ever.  None of the people I knew growing up were like this.  None of my adult friends are like this.   This is definitely not coming from me!!!

***

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days, and they are getting more and more interesting. I promise! Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward and/or share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks!

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