Peace, pussy, pride and harmony

Rock For Pussy 2014

Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy

The Fourth of July, Independance Day, will be my one month anniversary of sobriety. So far, it’s been quite an adventure. I feel like I may have picked the hardest month of the year to try and get sober but that should come as no surprise. I’ve never been one for doing things the easy way.  I don’t know if that’s part of the alcoholic mind set or not but it’s certainly my nature. I’m an extreme person. The things that are the most difficult are the things I find most rewarding. The truth is, quitting drinking is not difficult. All I have to do is not drink. It’s just that drinking is so easy. As an alcoholic, drinking is what is in my nature. Embracing sobriety means going against my nature. That is why this is a big deal. That is why getting sober is difficult. What I am attempting to do is to evolve. In a sense, I’m trying to become a different species. I’m trying to overcome my human nature.

The irony is that I wouldn’t even be attempting this without a great deal of arrogance and self-confidence yet if I am to succeed it will only be through humility. I like to think of myself as a peaceful person but I’m probably more of a fighter than I would like to admit. I think that is part of the human condition.  Alcoholism is part of my human condition. I won’t be able to overcome it by fighting. This will require a peaceful solution. This will require a spiritual solution. Many struggle with recovery over the spiritual aspect of the program but in truth the struggle is human, not spiritual. We are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We think of ourselves as our bodies and our minds. We imagine that our bodies have a soul. It would probably be more accurate to say that we are our soul and we have a body. The soul is pure energy. The soul is peaceful. The soul is in perfect harmony. Sobriety is simply a matter of surrendering to my true spiritual self.

Pride 35W Bridge

The 35W Bridge lit up for Pride

Ah but fuck that.  I will find that spiritual perfection and I will be free from the human condition once I die. Since I feel like I’ve taken suicide off the table, I’m left with no choice but to make the most of this life. I’m kind of enjoying this human experience. I like the journey. It’s fascinating and bizarre. If i’m going to get sober I”m going to do it the human way. I’m going to work at it.

I can’t yet say that quitting drinking is the best decision I’ve ever made but so far it seems to be a pretty good one. Life is not perfect so it’s important to keep things in perspective. Sobriety seems to be about 80% good and 20% sucky. I know that for some people that would still be unacceptable but for me anything above 50% is worth doing. Plus, it’s nice to have room for improvement. My drinking life was probably at 70/30 but I feel like that was about as good as it was going to get it. The highs might not be as high now and the lows not as low, but that could just be because I’m being more cautious.  I have a feeling that as I get more comfortable with sobriety the extremes will reemerge.

Project Earth at Harmony Park

Project Earth at Harmony Park

That said, it has still been a pretty exciting month. June is one of my favorite months of the year. This is the month that my band,  All The Pretty Horses, play “Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy”, the annual David Bowie tribute show to benefit no-kill animal shelters. It is also the month of Project Earth, a charitable music festival held at Harmony Park near Geneva, Minnesota and the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival in Loring Park, Minneapolis. These are three of my favorite events. They are also three events closely linked to drunken debauchery. Without going into too much detail I think it would be safe to say that I got a lot of practice saying, “no thank you”.

Even my dreams were filled with opportunities to say no. For the first three weeks of sobriety, night after night, I would have anxiety filled dreams of being offered alcohol. Then one night I totally forgot that I wasn’t drinking and had a PBR and a whiskey. The disappointment I felt was overwhelming but I resolved to carry on with my quest for sobriety. Then I woke up and realized it was just a dream. I haven’t had a drinking dream since. I know that there is a moral in there somewhere.

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Minneapolis, mn

I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In many ways, it’s a great city. But in winter the weather kind of sucks. I have a dream of not being here in the winter. I even have a plan for how to do that. But for now, I’m still here. For all I know, I might always be here. I’m starting to think that that would be okay too. It’s a hard life but I don’t have the expectation that life be easy. It’s the hard stuff that makes me feel most alive; to really appreciate being alive. I keep striving to make my life better, easier, and I think that is a good goal. But the fact still remains, life sucks… so what, at least it’s LIFE.

God is a dream

In that state of not quite dreaming while still not yet awake there is a moment of clarity that quickly fades as the sobering reality of a new day dawns. Once awake the confusion sets in. My thoughts are bombarded with all the knowledge of what I don’t know or understand. The realization of my doubt reemerges.

What just moments ago seemed crystal clear now feels like a delusion. So what is real? Is there such thing as truth?

The answers, while so very simply, never seem to hold up to the light of day. It’s like trying to find God through science. Perhaps it can be done but that seems like going the long way around. If God is real, if God is truth then God is never that far away. There is no need to prove or disprove the existence of God because God just either is, or isn’t. It is a question which cannot be answered. For God to exist one must simply know it. If God does not exist, then all we have is questions.

As I pass around the corner leaving behind my twilight slumber to greet the cold morning air of this winter’s day I wonder; “Was that God, or was it a dream?”

The first day of the rest of my life

Yesterday was the start of something new. There was no fanfare or ribbon-cutting ceremony but it did mark the day that I turned my focus to the future. Even so, it turned out to be not much different than any other day. Thomas Dolby being in town was not the distraction I feared it would be. I just kept doing the next thing and going to a concert never became one of them. I did still find plenty of things to distraction me.

I spent a good deal of time poking around facebook and reading various blogs. I’ve really been enjoying Kenneth Justice’s blog The Culture Monk and Lauren Cropper’s Between Fear and Love. I spent a little too much time watching TV shows on Netflix. I’ve started watching the BBC series, Sherlock. It’s a great stand-in while waiting for Doctor Who to return. Sometimes it’s hard for me to sit down and watch an hour and a half long drama so I’ve also been watching the sitcom, Don’t Trust the B—– in Apt. 23. Funny, but for some reason I can watch four episodes in a row of that show. I think it reminds me of some of my friends.

I did do some things that were a little more productive. I did some dishes, laundry and took care of some accounting work. I spent an hour playing guitar which was inspiring. I also managed to vote, the only thing I absolutely had to do yesterday.

So far my activities have been of the maintenance variety. These are the things that just allow me to keep treading water but don’t actually move me forward. That may just be the way things go for a while but eventually that won’t be enough to keep me busy. I will be forced to make progress because I won’t have anywhere else to go.

For me, this is where self-motivation comes from. Deadlines are good but boredom and passion are better. I’m a great procrastinator but eventually I run out of distractions and nothing left to do but everything I have to do. It’s in that moment that shit starts happening. The only time I ever get anything done is “right now”.

I have my goals and dreams but there is no clear path as to how to get there. I will keep documenting progress on my goals but I’m reluctant to specifically identify what they are. Maybe I will, but for now I will hesitate. I know that my goals will change over time. I know that I will change over time and I know that when I finally achieve my goals that it won’t look anything like I currently imagine.

Most people wait until after they have accomplished something great to write about it. Then they can look back and say, “that’s how it’s done”. But that’s not how its done. Goals are achieved in the moment. That’s why I’m writing about this as I go. To me, the process is more important than the goal.

It’s already not going as planned or as expected. I expected that I would be spending these first two weeks of November unable to do anything. I expected that I would find the road ahead so overwhelming that I would slip into a deep depression.  I figured that might take up to two weeks but eventually I would either give up and quit or I would decide that killing myself was not an option and that I had no choice but to move forward.

Instead I had my break-down / break-through / spiritual awakening two weeks ago. While it was nothing like I imagined it would be, it might be fair to say that I am two weeks ahead of schedule. In truth, I am still now and always will be right on time.

Listen to me

Well that was freaking weird!

We had a lovely drive back from the Twin Ports (Duluth/Superior), talking the whole way and enjoying fall colors. The sun was shining and the air temperature was pleasant. I was eager to get home so I could get on my bike and enjoy what may be one of the last nice days of the season. I even had a great excuse. My cat needs food and litter so at the very least I thought I would bike to the pet store.

But that’s not what happened.

Once home, my energy level dropped. I had a bowl of cereal and cracked a beer but I had no motivation to do anything else. Well, almost nothing else. I did have an erection that needed tending to but I knew if I did that I would just fall asleep; which is what I did.

That’s where it got weird.

Over the next five hours I would have some of the most vivid and terrifying dreams of my life. At times I was aware that I was dreaming but I never tried to control them. As scared as I was I felt that there was a deeper message within. The dreams were a warning and even as the details fade, the message is clear.

I can’t do it all and if I try it will kill me. As I am preparing to embark on the greatest challenge of my life I have to stay focused. I can’t let anything or anyone distract me. But at the same time I can’t do it alone. Those distractions are my guide posts and my life-lines. I need to pay attention to them.

That is my conflict. In a way it has always been my conflict. I have always struggled with how to balance my future plans with the present moment. I have always struggled to balanced my inner desires with external influences.

I realize that dreams are just a way for my subconcious to talk to my conscious. I realize that it is all me. I am every character in my dreams. I realize that it is me scaring the shit out of me. But I think I have a point. I need to listen to myself and I’m telling myself to listen to you.

Life is beautiful

The other morning, to be specific, the morning of Tuesday August 20th, 2013, I woke up with the most incredible sensation. As my eyes opened to greet the day I felt absolutely convinced that life was beautiful and that we lived in a world where everything was exactly as it was meant to be. For that moment in time I was living in the best of all possible worlds.

Then two hours later I woke up for real. I had in fact only been dreaming of this world. But could there be some truth to it? Could it be that life actually is beautiful? Many people have suggested that it is but given that I write a blog titled “Life Sucks, So What?!?” I clearly have my doubts.

Still, for two hours I was living in the best of all possible worlds. I was completely safe, happy and receiving everything I needed or could possibly desire. In that moment what I needed more than anything, to the exclusion of everything else, was sleep and what a beautiful sleep it was.

So this begs the question; does life suck or is it beautiful? I don’t think that I am going too far out on a limb to say that it is both. I realize that this might upset some of my friends who are convinced that life is beautiful but welcome to reality.

Actually, that is the real question. What is reality? I love my happy-go-lucky-life-is-beautiful friends but sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like we are not living in the same reality. Perhaps that is the case. Perhaps there are multiple realities. Or as I like to think of it; reality is just really, really fucking big and no one person can ever see all of it at once. Sometimes we see the parts that suck, sometimes we the parts that are beautiful.  Some people carve out their own vision of reality by only seeing what they want to see. Actually, that might be most people but I don’t have the budget to do the research and frankly, most statistics suck. Feel free to prove me wrong it you want to conduct a study and quantify the beauty of statistics.

My life is as an artist… or philosopher or whatever the fuck I am. I see my job as looking at everything, trying to make some sort of sense out of it, and doing the best job I can at communicating what I see. My job is to connect the dots. My job is to bring the universe back to earth. What I am quickly realizing is that the universe is really fucking big and that there are a lot of dots. I feel like an astrologer looking up at the ancient night sky and thinking, “there has got to be an answer in there somewhere”.

monthly-astrology-forecast-and-podcast-for-ma-L-bWDarU

The truth is that all those dots are connected. They all affect one another. Some connections may be more significant than others, just like some of our personal relationships are more significant than others, but the truth is we are all connected. To be honest, the dots connected by astrologers seem a bit random to me, but so what?!? We all have to make choices in this universe and if it works for you, who am I to judge?

Reality is big enough for everyone. If you want to believe that life is beautiful, go ahead. There is plenty of evidence to support that theory.  If you want to believe that life sucks, it’s pretty easy to do that as well. If you think that there is a supreme order to the universe and that everything happens for a reason, be my guest. If you think we live in completely chaos, I feel ya there too.

On this particular day in late August three young people including a toddler and a pregnant woman were shot in my neighborhood.  While no one was fatally injured there is no denying that this was a tragedy and the outrage exhibited by the community is completely understandable. My heart goes out to all the victims and to everyone affected by this incident. This has got to stop and our communities have got to come together and do a better job.

Still, I feel it’s important to point out that there were 387,750 people in Minneapolis who were NOT shot that day. Our odds of being shot on that day in Minneapolis were less than 1 in 100,000 or 0.0008%. Fortunately I don’t need a big research budget to come up with those statistics but they don’t exactly help much either. Crunching numbers and connecting dots seems pretty stupid when we have bullets connecting with flesh.

On that same day I took my daughter and her dog Toastie for a walk along the Mississippi River, across the Stone Arch Bridge to explore the ruins of the old mill city. It may very well have been one of the best days I have ever spent with my daughter but what I found most profound was that my daughter had a dog. She got this dog just a week before but she had been dreaming of it for two years. She even had the name picked out. So many people tried to dissuade her from her pursuit of getting a dog but she persevered. I encouraged her to keep her dream alive because even if it was unattainable I know that life can only be as good as our dreams.

And her dream did come true.

My dream in which I discovered a world of beauty could come true as well. I doubt that it will but so fucking what?!? Of all the misguided dreams and false hopes out there, believing that we can make the world a better place is one I’m willing to embrace.

Speaking of dreams, given that tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom I want to leave you with these words of another unrealistic dreamer, Martin Luther King Jr:

What do I want?

I recently heard an author state that the first ingredient to story telling is that the character needs to want something. It doesn’t matter what it is. I could be a glass of milk but as long as the character is seeking something the reader will follow to see if they get it.

Well, I’m the main character in this story so what is it that I want?

That’s not as easy of a question to answer as one might think. It is the question that sits front and center in my brain today yet I do not have a clear answer.

Theoretically, I have the day off so I am free to seek whatever I want. I say theoretically because when you are an independent self-employed artist type you never really have a day off. Also, when you deal with chronic illness and injury you never get a day off. Every day I am seeking something. I am seeking understanding, I am seeking fulfillment, I am seeking purpose and I am seeking connection.

Today is a gift.

I can go in any direction I want. It’s a beautiful day and I could just get on my bike and ride. With no plan or expectation I could just see where the day takes me. I love days like that but what I want now is some sort of direction. I’ve got my dreams and they give me direction but right now they seem too far away and I can see no clear path to get there. I am at a point where any step I make will be a step forward yet I stand here, looking all around, frozen, not knowing which way to go.

Life, or at least making life choices, is easier when driven by needs rather than wants, but as I strive to simplify my life I’m discovering how few needs I actually have and most of them are fulfilled at the moment. I got a good night’s sleep, had my morning poop and my addictions to caffeine and nicotine have been satisfied. I’m sure eventually I will need to eat but it’s not like I have to go hunt or gather my meal. At best, that will take up half an hour of my day.

This is not boredom.

My life feels very full these days, often overwhelmingly so, yet in this moment of quiet contemplation, I am aware that something is missing. On this day without structure, without demands, without needs to fulfill and without challenges to overcome I am presented with an opportunity.  I have an opportunity to discover what is missing in my life.

How will I rise to this occasion?

Will I sit in meditation or will I take action?

Sometimes it’s better to just do something, anything and sometimes it better to just do nothing, to listen to the silence, to wait for the answer to appear.

For today, what is my motivation?

For today, what do I want?

… tune in tomorrow to find out.

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