Thursday, June 10, 2010

For David

First, I apologize for not leaving some sort of note. I have a recurring illness I call allergies. It involves my right upper sinus but it dries me out so the discharge is thin and watery and chokes me badly. My right ear gets involved and fills up giving me vertigo as well. My left eye leaks tears more or less all the time, and my cough comes in spasms that are so severe that I am driven very close to unconsciousness. That is very dangerous on the road. So I quit doing anything except trying to sleep it out. I am a little better now. The sinus part is a long term consequence of a period of chronic infection. For years I was getting sinus bacterial infections periodically. I had an MRI and proved that I had a bit of an extra lip height naturally on that side that helped lock in drainage. The bacteria are now gone and have been for years but either the virus or the allergens have replaced them. I get this two or three times a year.

Getting old is not for sissies.

A few of you got worried and I am touched with your concern. I will try to remember to do something in the future. When I took one day off (I thought) I woke up so much worse the next day I couldn't get back.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the start of AA, June 10, 1935. That was the day that Bill Wilson had his first meaningful talk with Dr. Bob Smith, the talk that gave Dr. Bob his start in sobriety and led to them talking in due time with Bill D., helping him start his own sobriety and starting AA. What they figured out, they had to pass it on. They had to give sobriety away to keep it. It is still the formal AA opinion that absolutely nothing insures sobriety as much as work with other alcoholics - not that you have to succeed but that you engage in the work. AA calls that 12th step work and declares that a 12th step is successful not if the other guy stays sober but if you do. That's a relief. Most 12th steps are failures by any other measure.

This poem is about David Carradine.

For David

I was small when you
came into my house with your
calm face, slow movements,
your plain clothes and truth
in the midst of confusion
and outright evil.

Now you've hung yourself
in a closet. I never
expected that, nor
dreamed your mastery
would fall so far short of need,
nor of you just gone.

June 4, 2009 12:39 PM


  1. "would fall so short of you...just gone." I am "sobered" by this poem Christopher. Wellness for me, sobriety for you, sits on the cliff of a deep cavern. It is a precarious position that requires supervision (God, friends, AA) yet in the end, it is our own gear that holds us steady, or our own misstep that starts our descent.

    You inspire me, as always. I hope you feel better. Sending hugs and tissues.

  2. Annie, you touch on the central mystery of "self inflicted" distress. It is very difficult in the case of addictions and alcoholism to get a grip on the sources of disaster. Doctors claim that all major and many minor criteria which define disease are met in the issues of alcoholism and addiction. The disease is primarily mental. There is no doubt of it when the data is viewed en masse. The trouble arises in that so much appears to be free choice when you look in detail. It is very difficult to claim a lack of choice and this among the afflicted, among those who receive collateral damage, and among observers as well. Yet doctors will cite the statistics as the primary data rather than the anecdotes.

    When nearly everyone afflicted behave in very similar ways and repeat that behavior over and over again, neither freedom nor choice is likely, no matter what each individual situation looks like. The individual instance looks like one thing because the explanatory stories then seem obvious. The repeatability reveals another thing and further reveals that the explanations do not mean much.

    AA says, the fact is, the alcoholic, the real alcoholic, has lost the power of choice in drink and this loss of power takes place before taking the actual drink once alcoholism is well established. This is very difficult to accept even though it is demonstrable in the long run in each alcoholic and over the broad experience of many alcoholics.

    It is precisely that form of powerlessness that reveals the necessity. Lack of power is the dilemma and a style of life that accesses the necessary power is the solution. Alcoholics and addicts cannot combat this form of disease directly but instead succeed by cultivating a new vision and practice which opens the way for another form of power coming through them but not of them. The power is not ordinary human power.

    This situation is why knowing one's condition is critical. If one is a severe alcoholic or addict there is no solution less radical. However, there are lesser stages of difficulty in the addiction diseases. It is possible to arrest the disease in earlier stages, perhaps without going to this kind of extreme, perhaps even using using self control, choosing not to drink or use in some way.

  3. Christopher - My mother had similar symptoms and had to have a polyp removed from her sphenoid sinus (just a couple of weeks ago). She's better already, but is supposed to stop coughing altogether when the sinus heals and drains properly. She had been absolutely incapacitated by the sinus issues. You should find a good ENT doctor (and good insurance)!

    The David Carradine story is so sad. I wonder if anyone can ever know the truth of another?

  4. I think we do best when we share, wether it's in celebration or need, we carry one another.

    Well wishes for a clear head and some peace.


  5. Karen, you raise a good point for me that I need to revisit the sinus issue. Another MRI or whatnot looking for the current condition. I may have some new development. However, it is also square in the middle of my medical history to have this issue.

  6. Karen, as for David's secrets, I agree with you. It is not a matter of wonder, but instead one of the primary motivators of our lives that we live on the borders of being known, which of course implies acceptance. We sense the possibilities but rarely experience the truths of being entirely known.

  7. How terribly sad. :-( Sometimes, my child says he wishes he'd never been born. I don't know how to fix that, and I truly, deeply wish I did.

  8. Erin, thank you for your good wishes.

    In the more radical ranges of relationship, the point may not be our own fellowship but that we release the phenomona of something that we might call synergy or else as some in AA call it, "God with skin on".

    It is this access to power that comes from deep within our relationships with one another that makes the difference. For lack of better terms we source this power in our souls, or in their interaction and speak sometimes of "God within". Experience of this sufficient power which spans the gap in that which we cannot do alone may be the point of our yearning for relationships. It is certainly the point that drives the AA fellowship experience.

  9. Rachel, I assume you are responding to David as if it were a suicide. I believe that the truth is more complex, that there were circumstances that point in another direction. David did not kill himself but by accident he died chasing experience. The specifics are somewhat vague but are out there on the internet. The family worked hard to quiet this line of investigation, preferring that the public remember him for his work rather than for his private affairs.

    As for your son, I am completely sympathetic with him. I too had moments when my misery rolled all the way back to that point and I too would wail at my mother that I did not ask to be born. This was usually an expression of total frustration. Eventually this pain formed a large part of the experiences that led me to remain childless. I figured that I was somehow not suited for the entire gamble of having a child, this even though I was assured by so many people that I would have been excellent father material.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

Get Your Own Visitor Map!