I took this picture a few weeks ago while visiting my brother at UNI. It makes me happy. It makes me sad. It makes me wish there were more opportunities for Booker and Ike to read I Spy
books with their Uncle Danny.
I had forgotten all about this photo until I got an email today. It's an email I get every week- a newsletter from the rehab center where my sister got sober. Somehow I got on the mailing list and I never bothered to take myself off. I usually skip over it but today I decided to read it and I liked what I read. It's an excerpt called "Perfectly Broken" from comedian, author, speaker and recovering addict Mark Lundholm:
I have a chemically challenged anatomy, a drug resistant soul and a penchant for guessing incorrectly when it comes to the betterment of others… and I talk to myself as well. Because I am terminally self-centered, there are certain symptoms I display: I am spiritually retarded, emotionally invisible, financially irresponsible, socially phobic and almost pathological when it comes to lying. And that “almost”? That is my saving grace! See, there is a slim window of truth I gaze through every morning I wake up. It is the slightest chance that, even with my character defects, broken moral compass and natural ability to sabotage success, I can adjust my perception, manipulate my attitude and walk in the light of health, happiness and hope. I am a recovering drug addict; a product of incarceration, information, education and transformation. These have given me an umpteenth opportunity to avoid ending up in the morgue hopeless, helpless, ruthless, and toothless. I am alive and well. Doesn’t seem fair.
If life was fair, I would have been doing forever in prison or buried in my own filth in some alley right now. Fortunately, life is not fair and that simple slice of grace has allowed me more time to discover the truth about a disease that has plagued mankind since the very first cry of a newborn child. Addiction can walk safely among us because it will disguise itself as confidence or focus or passion or persistence. Beautiful words for a brutal condition. In truth, addiction is energy without grace. It is a boundless force of nature that erodes the human heart, wisdom and humility that balanced people seem to use to avoid becoming a willing participant in a lifestyle that says “Me first, second, last and always! You?... Never!”
Most people have a credo of live and let live, or follow the golden rule. Most. The rest of us confuse tools that become weapons and the irresistible arrogance of imagining we can out-think a physical disease. Hint: try using willpower, IQ or spirituality to stop diarrhea! Some things in life you just have to surrender to, adjust to, just to survive. I am no longer the willing victim I was in my addiction days of cocaine, speed, alcohol and other clever chemical pursuits. I have been taught by other recovering individuals that addiction to anything… money, power, work, smoking, food, golf, computers, sex, shopping… is treatable. I have been liberated by the knowledge that my liabilities as a practicing addict can now become finely tuned assets that allow me to deftly navigate the foreign terrain of relationships, employment, success and excellence. I am allowed on a daily basis to make a 180 degree rotation toward health even though my primary nature is flawed and my first thought is always wrong. That is my heritage, not my legacy. “First thought wrong” say relapse, dabble, delay, decay, dissolve, destroy and disappear. My second thought (or tenth if I am off my game that day) is “What?! Again? How has that worked for you in the past? Yeah, that’s what I thought!”
Oh, I still talk to myself. But these days I do it when no one else is around AND I have deeper, lengthier, healthier discussions. Energy with a little grace.
I'm not going to pretend that I know the first thing about addiction, but somehow that excerpt resonates with me. It gives me hope. I hope that there will continue to be a "slice of grace" for Danny. I've seen how grace (and a helluva lot of hard work) transformed my sister's life and I hope/pray/beg/plead that he can have a similar outcome.
I guess I'm glad life is unfair and illogical. By all accounts, Danny should be in a morgue hopeless, helpless, ruthless and toothless. But he's not. I know where he is tonight and I'm pretty sure he still has all his teeth.
Today, I am thankful for grace.