About Ten years ago, when I will still happily married, happily stoned and happily running my own business into the ground, I went to the State Fair. It was a mid week night, perhaps a Thursday.
My wife and I got a baby sitter for our wee little one, and headed out for the evening. Things did not look promising as there were dark storm clouds looming in the horizon and were quickly headed our way. By the time we hit the Fair, it was pouring rain. That cold, unrelenting September rain that can do nothing but reinforce that summer is indeed over, and it is time to start gathering your fruits and berries for the long winter.
We could have postponed our outing to another day, It was actually in the high 70s and sunny the next day, but we had a reason for being there, playing for free at the outdoor stage were the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
The band was hot, Duke Robillard was great. There were about 300 people there and they played their asses off. About three quarters of the way through the set, We had had enough of the foul weather and we decided to leave, much like many of the other concert goers had decided to do as well
As we approached the entrance there was a guy on the bleachers, all liquored up, heckling the retreating crowds.
"You guys are crazy, don't you know what you are missing?!" He would shout as if someone were going to grab him by the arm and make him miss the rest of the set. There was fear and incredulity in his voice. How could these assholes actually leave?, was the incredulous message he was trying to hammer home. As far as the Fear, I can Identify.
I know what it means to have 300, 50, 15 people in the audience as I watch a talented group of musicians with all of the promise in the world, drift into a cloud ... a cloud which will surely obscure their live performances, their body of work hurtling them into anonymity as quickly as Hunter S. Thompson's ashes were launched into the stratosphere packed into an elaborate fireworks display.
All of the sudden you may find yourself experiencing flashes of recognition, a fond and distant memory which will take over your thoughts and cause you to ask,
"What ever did happen to those guys?... They were good"
I can identify with that guy at the Fab T-birds show. I am incredulous that people are not flocking to see bands like the Drunk Stuntmen. When they played at Black Eyed Sally's in the summer time, it was a nightmare. There were about 15 people in the audience, five of which were there specifically to see the band. There was a sloppy drunk from Canada, who almost started a fire by knocking over a linen covered table along with its burning votive candles. He ended the night barefoot and lying on his back on the vacant dance floor. The bar back was hammered and the contact person was a raving anti-social freak.
That is a lot of shit to put up with for a meal, for which they wanted to charge the band due to the sparse attendance. The club upstairs was so packed the patrons were coming downstairs to use the bathrooms.
I can identify with that guy at the Fab T-birds show as he desperately tried to cling on to a feeling - a good feeling which he obviously wanted to share. Unfortunately he was doing a poor job of conveying the message as his enthusiasm was clouded by the fact that he was so drunk.
In the rooms of a 12-step fellowship it is suggested that you identify, not compare. As a dear friend, who is sober, but does not participate in a 12-step fellowship pointed out,
"Sometimes you can compare and Save."
He knows a little bit about what happens in those rooms, the rooms where the Anonymous sequester themselves for many hours during the week. He possesses wisdom and a healthy outlook which I admire. In a lot of ways he has more recovery than some folks I know with over a decade of living life without drugs or alcohol.
He knows about how we spend hours in those rooms, hours which could be spent with our families, working on a soul fulfilling project or hobby, or even at a job, hours which could be deliciously spent in the arms of a new found love. I am learning to live and enjoy life with the greatest of luxuries all ... hours of nothing to do but sit quietly and meditate.
I don't have to say, "I'm sorry, what?" When I am listening.
I have listened to my disease in the past. Listening to me say it is okay to get high, that I deserve it. I can get away with it. If I am cool, no one will ever know. I know that voice is bullshit. I am an addict and have proven this point to myself, time and time again.
I have listened to my friends confirm these erroneous notions and let me know how they justify their using of drugs and alcohol.
Identify don't compare means, listening to another and thinking that your disease is just that much less insidious than the diesease of another.
I am thankful that I have people like you who look forward to what I am going to write next. I am thankful that Muskrat Flats is a thriving community, albeit a fictitious one, but one that is vibrant enough to facilitate the creative process.
I am thankful for Music. Thankful for both the ability to play and the so many great musicians out there I enjoy seeing and hearing live.
I am thankful that my glassblowing skills are improving, as another glass artist in my karass pointed out, becoming "more refined." Thanks to all of you who have supported my endeavors in this department, contributing to my studio at the Indian Orchard Mills becoming a living and breathing destination.
I am thankful that on a Monday before a Friday payday, I have $40 dollars in my checking account. My bills are paid, I've got gas at both the studio and in my car and my child support is paid.
I am thankful for my daughter, Rayna. She is a bright shining beacon in my life. I am thankful that I am available to her these days, spiritually, physically and financially. She is growing up a talented, bright, and empathic young lady with a great sense of humor whose possibilites for a rich and rewarding adulthood are limitless.
I am thankful that I did not wake up dopesick. That I did not have to jeopardize my life and freedom, just one more time, for a $6 dollar bag of death.
I am thankful that today, I can still remember the last time I got high and pray that I never forget.
Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Today I'm going slow it down a little bit and listen to that voice in my head, guiding me to a better place, a place where I don't have to speed things up so I can be ...
Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.