Never going back again

 

I don’t know where my path will lead me but I do know that it lies ahead, not behind.

I’ve been in recovery from alcoholism for a little over three and a half months. I’ve been working the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s working but I sure as hell don’t have everything figured out. I’m also not in any rush to get there. I’m just trying to enjoy the moments as they pass and grow through the process. I”m doing it my way which apparently is pretty disconcerting to a number of people close to me. After all, doing it my way is what got me in this predicament in the first place, right?

Now that would be a pretty compelling argument for not doing things my way if I thought my current predicament was somehow bad. I’m not going to say that everything is perfect by any means but considering the alternative I”m really grateful for where I am today. I certainly don’t think that being in recovery is anything to be ashamed of. Obviously I wouldn’t be in recovery if I hadn’t done a lot of crazy fucked up shit but I wasn’t going to get here any other way. That’s not to say that I would recommend my method to anyone else. Of course, I’ve heard a lot of stories from other people about how they got here and I wouldn’t recommend any of those methods either. Of all the options for getting where I am today, I’m pretty satisfied with the way I did it.

Still, it’s hard to look back on where I was without some level of regret. It’s impossible to get better without acknowledging that you once weren’t so good. I can take comfort in the fact that I always did my best. I’m not perfect and sometimes my best sucks… but so what! I’m getting better, right? I’ve been wrong and I’ll probably be wrong again. I’ve never gotten better by doing something I was already perficient at. I get better by doing something I don’t know how to do. Along the way I make mistakes, I fuck up, I learn and I get better. That’s how I got to where I am today. Of course it’s hard to be on a path of self-improvement without realizing how much I must suck right now compared to some future version of me.

All I know is that I have to keep going. I will stay on this path as long as it continues to work… and probably a little bit longer just to make sure. That’s my way of doing things. I’m kind of stubborn like that. I like to be thorough. But have I learned everything there is to learn from my past? I don’t know but I have my doubts. I may have done the best I could have done at the time but that doesn’t mean that I did the best I can do now. I can’t go back and relive those moments but I can continue to learn from them.  I can try again with the wisdom I have gained. I’m pretty sure I’m done with the drinking experiment though. I’ve actually lost the desire to go down that road. I know it works, I’m just not in a rush to get where it will take me.

 

 

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Why do people work?

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As I am awake as six o’clock in the morning preparing to drive pedicab for the Saint Paul, St. Patrick’s Day Parade this question is on my mind. I’ve received Social Security for my multiple disabilities for fifteen years now. There is no expectation that I have a job and for the first six years of being sick there was no way that I could work. My job was figuring out how to live but as soon as I could do anything I started working. One benefit to this is that I qualify for a Medicaid program in Minnesota designed for employed people with disabilities. Having medical coverage is essential to me and Medicare doesn’t really cover it but that’s another story.

Obviously the need for money is why many people work. It’s the driving assumption behind efforts to raise the minimum wage. People with a job should be able to survive in this modern world. For most people their job is their primary source of income but it’s hardly the only way to get money and perhaps not even the most efficient. You certainly can make more money panhandling than you can working at McDonald’s. The idea that if you work hard you will be financially rewarded for your efforts is a myth. In this modern age, for most people, working hard is essential for survival but it is no guarantee of great wealth.

Since money is essential for survival, if money is the only reason people work then the modern job is only one step removed from slavery. If money alone will get someone to do something that they wouldn’t do for any other reason, I don’t see how that is any different than bribery. That’s how I felt the other night when I had four stippers climb into the back of my cab all waving twenty dollar bills in my face. Believe me, I really wanted to help but as I explained to them, the law only permits me to transport three adults and even more important to me than the law was that I could lose my job. They were very disappointed that no amount of money could get me to give all four of them a ride. They also didn’t want to wait for another cab to arrive. They wanted what they wanted when they wanted it and thought that money was all they needed.

It is my belief that meaningful work, far more than money, is essential for human happiness. The work we do helps us form connections with other people and gives us an opportunity to make a difference in the world. Work is what gives us purpose.  Most of the work I do I don’t get paid for at all. Writing this blog is work for which I don’t get paid. Being a parent is work for which I don’t get paid. Being a friend is work for which I don’t get paid. I get paid for performing music but not any more than it costs me to be a working musician. Driving pedicab is the only work I do which makes money but if money was my only motivation, I wouldn’t do it.

So what do you think? Would you do the work you do if you didn’t get paid? If you didn’t need the money?

The truth hurts

“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.” – George Carlin

At my core I want nothing more than to be happy and for those around me to find happiness as well. So why do I ask “why” knowing that it is a sure fire way to destroy happiness? To have a job, to have work to do, to find purpose in one’s occupation is a far better path to happiness.

So why do I do what I do? The simple answer is because I can’t not do it. Perhaps it is a form of insanity. All I know is that I have an insatiable thirst for the truth. I am on a quest and I refuse to give up regardless of how difficult or painful it may be. This is my path and I have chosen to accept it.

What troubles me is why I am inflicting it on you. It doesn’t seem fair or kind.  People have asked if I think that I am driven to do this out of ego. I’m sure that there is some of that but I don’t think it’s the driving force. I don’t think this blog is terrible self aggrandizing. I haven’t put that much work into promoting myself or building readership. I’m really just giving what I have to give but am I kidding myself by thinking that this is somehow a gift? I like to look at everything as a gift but that is not a philosophy everybody subscribes to. It’s a philosophy that is pretty difficult for me at times.

Last nights post did not feel like much of a gift. It was actually quite painful. After writing it I felt broken and completely alone.  I never want to read it again and am feeling guilty for having subjected you to it. It was a devastating realization, the realization that my happiest days are over. They lasted two weeks and I’m grateful for that but that may be it.

Today I am done feeling sorry for myself. Today I am just thinking about you. Knowing how painful some of my posts are for me I can’t help but wonder if they are causing harm to others as well. Ideas are dangerous and I don’t want to be so callous about sharing mine. I’m not really. I have plenty of radical ideas that I haven’t dared share but some still slip out.

The temptation is to delete the whole blog but that doesn’t seem right. Legally it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want with it but since I have put it out there I don’t consider it mine alone. This is art and art is meant to be shared. These are shared words. Taking it down would not be an act of healing but an act of destruction.

So I’m going to keep writing because I can’t not write. I’m going to keep posting because I believe it is meant to be shared. If you keep reading, that’s on you. Just know that you may very well be reading the ramblings of a madman. If you take it seriously that’s not my fault.

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Nightingale and the Rose

Back in the saddle again

I think that two days off in a row is one of the greatest inventions even created. One day is not enough but three would have been too many so yesterday I returned to daily grind.

I was feeling pretty down. The weather was shitty and I drank too much during my days off so I think I was feeling a bit of the depressive qualities of alcohol. I didn’t want to work. I wanted to just lay in bed all day but I knew I had to try.

Having a job that forces you to smile is the best thing in the world for someone with major depression.  It was a slow night. I still wasn’t fully back in the game so it wasn’t terrible lucrative for me but it was what I needed. I’m back at it again tonight. Still not happy with the weather but I know that there is nothing better that I could be doing. I will be returning to writing at some point but for now… this is it.

Really?!?

Well I made it through my ten straight days of driving pedicab and am now giving myself two days off. There is much that I could be doing to keep myself moving forward but I really want to see what I come up with if I give myself nothing to do.

So far I’ve found myself writing stupid shit on facebook, listening to crappy dance-pop and drinking cheap wine. Hmmm… I’m not sure this in an improvement. At the very least I thought I would want to write about my stressors but instead I’m bopping my head to Ke$ha. It may be time for an intervention.

Naw… sometimes I just need a day or two to not give a shit.

By the way… did I hear that the government is shut down? Way to go fuckheads – you’re playing right into my hand! I’ve always said, “If you can’t do anything good, at least you can serve as a bad example.”

Keep calm and pedal on

I’ve just completed five straight days of pedicabbing. That may not seem like a big deal to people who work a five day work weeks every week but for me it’s pretty unique. I haven’t done the same job five days in a row since 1999. Also, I’ve scheduled myself for the next five days as well. That may be a bit crazy but it’s crazy with a purpose.

I’m doing this because it is something that I can do. The parts of my life that are out of control are out of my control. There are many things that I could be stressing about but all that it would give me is stress. So I’m focusing on what I can do. It’s a little bit avoidance, a little bit escape and it’s not a permanent solution. It’s just a way of biding my time while the rest of my world sorts it’s shit out. In the meantime, I’ll continue to get in better shape and save money so that I can survive the winter.

I’m also trying to accomplish one thing each day that will move my life forward. I still have a long to-do list but if I can do one thing each day it will help. Somethings are bigger than others but they all help me carry on. In the past week I have caught up on laundry, changed the sheets on my bed, dyed and trimmed my hair and beard, checked in with my band leader, set up my new phone and gone grocery shopping.

Pretty boring stuff, huh?

I suppose that’s part of why I haven’t been writing as much. I have been working on an economics article. I’m halfway through but I may not be able to finish it until next week when I finally give myself a couple days off. Until then…

My time is my own

For the first time in seven years I don’t have to deliver City Pages on Wednesday. All my stops have been covered and it is no longer my responsibility. I received a phone call today from Twin Town pedicab asking when I wanted to work this week.  I told them I was taking the week off. Both of my kids are back in school. I’m single, I don’t have any roommates; I don’t even have a best friend. My time is my own.

I’ve spent most of my life running; running to keep from falling down. When I slow down I stop. Like the shark I have to keep moving or I will die. Well, not die, that is a bit of a dramatisation, but it feels that way sometimes. In 1999 I was struck with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I am convinced that it was my body telling me that I need to slow down. It did more than slow me down though. It brought my activity to a complete halt. Since then I have been working tirelessly to get back on my feet.

I’m finally at a place where I feel strong enough, healthy enough and capable enough to do anything I want to do. But I’m not cured. I still have to struggle with these illnesses. I can’t keep running. I have to slow down sometimes. I want to move forward but I’m still trying to catch up. I want to be there for other people but taking care of me is a full time job. I’m finding that I do better when left to my own devices; but what is the point of doing better if you have no one to share it with?

I’m taking today to do what I need to do for myself. Tomorrow I head to Shangri-la to share what I have with the bliss junkies of Harmony Park. It’s a balancing act with competing extremes. No one understands what it is like to be me but I see a little bit of me in everybody. It’s like being alone in a carnival funhouse where every mirror has been smashed into a million peices.

It’s okay. I’m doing fine, even if you think I’ve lost my mind.  I’m sure it’s around here somewhere, it’s just now what I want to find. I’m going to follow my heart to the land of lonely souls. I’m going to look without seeing to discover what the blind man knows. I may seem weird to you but I’m no weirder than you to me. Our differences are symmetrical, that’s our commonality. So you be you and I’ll be me. It’s the way it’s all been planned. The missing jigsaw puzzle piece is right there in your hand.

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