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              It was a blustery weekend in Muskrat Flats. The wind was conducting a symphony as the poplars bordering the vineyard...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Life on Life's Terms

It has been a hectic week in Muskrat Flats. I wish I can say the hail has been on my back, Mr. Lesh, but it has been slapping me square in the face, with gale force winds. But that is, as they say, life on life's terms.

The expression, Life on life's terms, has an ever evolving meaning. It is as different and unique as each new day we face. There was much sadness in the news last week. A man my age died a horrifying fiery death due to the carelessness of another driver. The rig he was driving had a cargo of gasoline which ignited into an inferno. Onlookers tried to help the man escape from from the overturned, burning wreckage but were thwarted by the unyielding blaze. He managed to extricate himself from the burning cab, but perished a few hours later.

The news you didn't read about in the papers was that of a person, whom I call a friend. Someone I knew in active addiction as well as in recovery. She died last week. From the sounds of it, she went back out, picking up her drug of choice.

Why any addict in a 12-step program chooses to ignore the tools we possess; the suggestions which have been given to us; and the cries of "don't pick up no matter what," are as baffling as why anyone would choose to live life as an active addict. I know how hard it is to walk an even keel having relapsed several times since I began walking the road to recovery in 2005.

When the disease breaks through that barrier we have built and that unwise choice is made, it could very well be the last choice we make. When addicts pick up and use, death is definitely an imminent possibility. Her body was found days later when a stench began to exude from her apartment. She was doing well on her own journey up the the road to recovery, and had come a long way from the days she used to run; chasing that fix; seeking that next hit which would stave off the sickness, which always would set in as the new day came. Living as a human doing not a human being. Desperately trying to avoid acceptance of the terms life has to offer.

I will miss her shy smile and the conversations we had after meetings. There was no need for us to make amends to each other, we both knew how we factored into each other's lives when we were both sick and suffering. The fact that we had those conversations reflecting on the present and the positive things that were happening in both our lives, rendered the other conversation we could have had to that of an unspoken understanding. She was a good person and is in my prayers.

Life on life's terms. There are as many reasons as there are minutes in that day as to why some one would want to get high, or have a drink. I know in my case, I was depressed about circumstances in my life which I thought I was incapable of facing. This caused me to stop feeling. I had no emotions whatsoever. I was never happy or elated, not really saddened. It seemed like, for the longest time, the only time I felt anything was when I was high. I harbored a romantic misconception that I was more productive artistically when I was high.

Here is an example of a product of that misconception...

Recently, Bob Dylan, the only musician living who probably could have gotten away with saying it, assailed today’s crop of recording artists at the top of the charts as…amateurs. Whew! Dylan went on to explain that essentially there are no roots associated with these bands: that they know not where the music comes from. He even went on to hypothesize that if he were coming up in music today, he wouldn’t, opting instead for a career such as mathematician or architect. I would have to agree. When I look for good music, it is not at the top of the charts. Hell no. It is in the trenches where it belongs. It is in a bar where a 6-inch plywood riser separates you from the infantry. The touring rabble, the song smiths who devote all of their energy to the craft. They throw caution to the wind and perform with everything they’ve got, recklessly pushing forth fueled by a few Long Neck Millers and of course by you, the audience. They do this because they can’t see themselves doing anything else. They have to do it. If they don’t…I don’t even want to think about it. They perform like this every night they can, because they have faith. They are independent, and answer to no one. They have faith that true music will prevail in the end. Faith in the song and faith in the audiences who egg them on.

While I agree with Dylan, he was wrong to some extent. Bands like the Drunk Stuntmen are not living off of table scraps leftover from the sixties, and they certainly don’t associate themselves with the groups Dylan recently derided. They play real music. They know their roots and honor them every chance they get. With a tip of the hat, a few hot licks, and some sincere lyrics, they have roots and they have faith. Luckily for you, they are willing to share. It’s better than old time religion

-Paul Brown 3/9/05

Not bad, pretty well written. Stuntman Steve called me and asked if I could come up with something along those lines within a few hours to use on Drunkstuntmen.com. I gladly obliged. When I wrote that, I was blasted. I was drinking absinthe, smoking copious amounts of marijuana and injecting dilaudid 4 mg at a time. I was nodding out at my keyboard, isolated in my little hobbit hole. Yet I managed to crank out that piece. People in my life could tell that there was something going on with me, something they couldn't or refused to pinpoint. I was still in the "drugs are beneficial" mode thinking I was going to ascend to the literary ranks of Hunter Thompson, Neal Cassidy, Jack Kerouac or even a writer who was a distant relative who shared my grandfather's surname, Bukowski.

All the while I realized the dangers of what I was doing, but the reality of living with the disease is that you can lie to yourself and believe that "it" won't happen to you, that you are not one bag away from death at any given minute in that 24 hour period. It never really sets in until you know someone who has passed and even then, how you process the information depends upon how sick you are. Does that person dying make you reflect on your life and its endless chaos, or do you want to find out who she got the dope from, and just do half a bag? My sponsor tells me that it is a sad situation, unfortunately some must die so others may live.

I hope where ever she is, it is a better place than walking down Belmont Ave., on a frigid snowy winter evening going through withdrawals, looking for the dope man so she can hold off the sickness just that much longer.

Life on Life's terms, you don't always have to like them, but you have no choice but to accept them, because, after all, they are things you cannot change.

I feel a change in the wind and it is once again on my back, guiding me, as I am...

Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats.

Rest in Peace, Mary.

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