Losing My Mind Gracefully

There are some positive things about addictions. In the early days of exposure to whatever substance eventually turns out to want to kill you and everything you love, either it’s fun or it raises your spirits in some way or who would do it? But day by day the hook grows until maybe you find your sorry self at an AA or NA meeting, your life much the worse for wear and you hoping that there is something or someone in that room that will save you.

Well, there is such a person, you learn, and it turns out to be you. The other members of the club can support, they can exhort, they can point you toward some helpful truths. But you have learn how to find your own path and then to walk it.

One of those helpful truths is that you do have a very real enemy. Something powerful enough that if you don’t learn to deal with it you are very likely to make your way right back into the swamp you just left . And that is resentment.

Now who doesn’t have a few of those? I know that I did, and some of them were doozies. I liked them, I thought I had earned them, and sitting around with a glass in my hand and nursing the very heck out of them was not an altogether unpleasant thing to do. Plotting perfect revenges, how to make the offender pay one day … my, my, what a seductive hobby that was. While at some point that I sensed that alcohol was doing a number on me I never saw what resentments were doing and how they fit into the picture.

“Resentment is like taking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.”

Malachy McCourt

Learning to let go of resentments offered the chance to free myself from a potentially endless cycle of hate and anger and corrosion of my spirit. I could then use those energies for something better, much better. Like staying sober, for instance. Like being happier. Like becoming a full-on human being either again or for the first time.

These days, I no longer need that drawer I used to keep my resentments in. As soon as I discover one growing in a corner of my mind, I do what I need to pluck it out. I no longer have time to play with them … zero tolerance. BTW – none of this is for the resent-ee’s benefit, because they don’t even know what I am thinking and feeling. It’s all about me.


Here’s one of the unsolvable problems of life. For every musical artist that I come to love and appreciate, I know that there are tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of equally talented people that I never get to hear. Once in a great while the name of one of those artists will surface, which is what happened today. The NY Times ran a piece about a slide guitarist/vocalist named Ellen Mcilwaine that was so intriguing I had to go listen to some of her stuff.

Exciting playing, powerful voice. Unfortunately, the piece in the Times was an obituary, so I’ve missed my chance to support her endeavors, but not the chance to admire her talent and take pleasure from what she’s recorded.

With all that she had going for her, the obit mentions that she augmented her income in the last several years of her life by driving a school bus. Not every good deed is rewarded in this life of ours.

I would love to have seen her in concert. Those songs over there are some kick-ass tunes for certain.


My son Jonnie never cared for the blues. To him it was the boring and endless repetition of the same chords, tune, and lyrics ad nauseam. I would answer that I felt the same way about the mindless and unimaginative punk-twaddle that he was listening to. As you can see we had some deep and respectful discussions regarding music. My “office” and the location of my computer was in the basement just outside his bedroom door, and after a couple of hours of hearing the Replacements and Husker Du, I often had to go upstairs to unclench my fingers and try to restore a normal personal heart rate. I have no blood pressure recordings taken at those times, but I’m pretty sure that they were incompatible with life.

It is the way of all things, no? I would have been sorta disappointed if Jonnie had slavishly adopted my likes and dislikes, but he chose to go to a different place entirely. A foreign country, musically … almost a different planet. Funny thing … some of those pieces that grated on me back then … I have come to a sort of deténte with them today. I’ve put one of those up for you in the Jukebox. It’s sung by one of the whiniest vocalists I’ve ever heard. But Blister In The Sun connects me with a young man I used to know, and that’s okay with me.


Every once in a great while I run across a gif that grabs me. One that I can watch over and over, and almost be hypnotized by it. Here is one from the New Yorker that seems perfect for summertime (and someone who counts cats among his friends). I think it’s just plain lovely.

Now I’m not sure if there is a single building in Paradise with a fire escape like this that you can climb out onto with your book in order to get away from the stifling heat indoors. Doesn’t matter. Some places are a part of nearly everyone’s collective experience, archetypal.


I marched in the 4th of July parade here in Paradise, which is a very low-key affair. Basically, if you have a motorized vehicle and a bit of bunting … you’re in! My flapping feet accompanied the Montrose County Democrats “float.” There were some predictable sour happenings along the route. A couple of guys who booed, the family of four who turned their backs to the float as it passed by, etc. But all in all it was a good thing and people were polite to one another.

All of this reminds me that I live in a conservative area, and that right now the conservatives are the magnet for the crazies. These are folks who live in the woodwork and come out in numbers only when encouraged.

Today such encouragement comes mostly from only one of our two major political parties. I will not name names except to say that it is not the Democrats.

Democrats are the epitome of honesty, propriety, purpose, conscience, and justice. If it were not for us the republic would not stand. God is on our side for sure.

Problem is, that is pretty much what the loonies believe as well.

There have been times when our Blue party attracted more than its share of disaffected nitwits. What I have to remember is that most people occupy a quiet middle ground, and want the same things that I do. Allowing myself to be distracted by the noisy contingent is a mistake. For every “Confederate” flag and “Don’t Tread On Me” banner, there are a thousand regular old American flags flown by regular old men and women who care a great deal about the mess we seem to be in. These are folks that I can work with and learn from.


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