Addiction, Recovery, and Transformation

Image from Pixabay.com.

The subjects of this blog might seem oddly timed, but I’ve been focusing on addiction and recovery in the past few weeks. I think that the seasonal depression that some of us might be experiencing (whether it’s from the holiday blues or the early darkness) call for this exploration.

I have a family member struggling with addiction. I pray for recovery and transformation for this family member. It’s hard to hear about, hard to accept the powerlessness, and hard not to become cynical about all of it. In the book An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture, one of the writers tells about his ex-wife who was an alcoholic and eventually died from it. While she was still struggling, the writer had a breakfast with Ivan Illich and the writer went over all of the measures he and the family had taken to try to get her conquer her alcoholism. Exasperated, he finished with, “I just don’t know what else to do.” Ivan Illich responded: “Grieve.” Indeed, I am grieving for this family member.

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A poem and a prayer

Something different for this week. I’d like to share a poem and a prayer. Both have meant a great deal to me and have helped me in even the lowest parts of my journey.

The poem is by Jellaludin Rumi (a 13th century Sufi mystic) and it’s called The Guest House. The prayer is the St. Francis Peace Prayer or sometimes called the St. Francis Prayer. This prayer is used by Alcoholic Anonymous in their 12 step recovery process. I’d like to write more on addiction and recovery and am working on a large piece on exploring the spiritual side of that. Have a good weekend, everyone. And have a good Thanksgiving week!


The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing, and invite
them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jellaludin Rumi

The Saint Francis Peace Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

St. Francis of Assisi

Kintsugi

I learned my MRI results this week. My brain is clear of any lesions (tumors). Except for the resection (the cavity from my brain surgery), my MRI looks like a typical brain. In doctor-speak, this is a complete response. In August, my MRI was a partial complete response. I’ve been upgraded. There was little else to talk about for my appointment. We set the next scan for 4 months out.

I took my last steroid pill this morning. Tomorrow will be my first day in 8 weeks with no steroids. I’m already feeling very good. I think by the end of the weekend I’ll be feeling even better.

I have a PET scan at the end of the month and I find out the results in the first week of December. I’m going to hold off on the weekly updates until then. Things have calmed down considerably. It feels forced to give weekly updates during long periods of inactivity. No news is good news.

I’ll still keep the main blog going and write weekly. Initially, I set the goal writing once a week for 1 year. I’m still aiming for that.

All of this good feeling has me basking in the awe of feeling put back together again. I feel like I was broken, and broken for a long time. It’s only through the love and grace of my family, friends, and professionals (medical and otherwise) that I became functional first, and now exceptional. I am not worse for the wear- my past has become wisdom, and the scars I bear show the power of love and community. I find the Japanese art of kintsugi tells a small part of the journey I’ve gone through in becoming a New Man.

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Westerns over Science Fiction: A Look at a Limitless World Through Songs

When I was little I never liked westerns. I thought they were boring. They didn’t have spaceships or new planets, and worst of all, they took place in the past. Yuck. I always went for more Star Wars replays over watching a dated Western. Even the combination of western and sci-fi, the 3rd Back to the Future movie, was a bummer for me as a kid (and still is, sort of). And now, as I age, I realize westerns might be more dear to me– because they take place here, on Earth. I think the magic of westerns comes from the “anything is possible” framwork of the chaotic Old West. But it’s an “anything is possible” within boundaries– there are still deeds, and laws, and justice. And only a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of beaucracy (which is always vilified). I think we’re attracted to westerns on an unconscious level because they take place in nature, and in a version of America hasn’t yet turned into Pavement-Land. It certainly appears that living in the present was a whole lot easier when adventuring in frontier territory.

I grew to love westerns as I came into adulthood. I’m realizing now, it was thanks to music, and not TV or movies. I’m still not completely taken with western movies or TV shows. HBO’s Deadwood is the closest I’ve come to really being taken by show set in the West (the show is essentially Game of Thrones without the dragons and it’s set in an Old West frontier town. Also explicit like Game of Thrones).

Now I can recognize that I have Bob Dylan to thank for my love of the Old West. And Josh Ritter, too.

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