i am fortunate enough to be on a short list of invitees when tickets to festivals and concerts come available. there are some duds, but there are also some amazing gifts of experience that charm and enlighten. last weekend became a bonanza at the denver international film festival. as i viewed “once upon a crime- the borrelli-davis conspiracy” my heart thawed and i was introduced to a view of “the next level” of living and forgiving could really look like.
mike borrelli and bob davis were new yorkers whose lives intersected with denver politics in the mid 1970’s they were convicted of murder and conspiracy not because the evidence provided no alternate perspective, but because the investigating agency needed a conviction to keep their budget alive. even beyond this atrocity, bob davis, a black man and former police officer, was further denigrated by being ignored the the colorado justice system and denied the retrial on the lesser trial of conspiracy that his white counterpart was given (and exonerated) for murder.
i won’t go into the documentary’s specifics here- although it is finely woven together with care and respect for it’s subject. nor shall i highlight the style and depth that the 7 years of research and interviews introduced. needless to say this film is worth your time. the real time arc of the story-line in my mind is the other-worldly ability of bob davis to forgive his transgressors. i cannot remember a time in my recent history when one individual’s quiet demonstration of spiritual principles have left a mark so deep.
i met the men whose lives were woven so intricately into the wormhole of destiny retold in the film. they did not seem larger than life or extraordinary at all. quite the contrary, they are glaringly simple. thank you bob davis (and mike borrelli)- for providing the beautiful reminder that living a life with forgiveness is the gift that a spiritual life provides. it may not look glamorous, but it’s glow sustains.
life is queer. or at least mine is. the circling and cycling of emotion, perspective, and clarity can be exhausting as well as exhilarating. time is the factor that is the most friendly in this dance. i am often acutely affected by situations that freeze my emotional availability. time is the ingredient that turns the stone to sand and lets the wind swish it away. time gives the gift of perspective and de-escalation. time washes away some of the grime.
i have come to realize that a very unpleasant set of encounters that i have had probably are connected to an unconscious letting go of a toxic pattern. i have gotten to a place in my life that i feel comfortable erecting boundaries around the way i am treated. and there has been depression around this perhaps because i am grieving the old ways. the independence and serenity that accompanies a lack of bullshit takes some getting used to.
i haven’t been immediately clued in to the telling signs of healthy grief, but they are now a bit more familiar. it is sad business to let go of old beliefs and habits. i just hope it doesn’t remain infinitely sad. i am hoping that some joy and room for growth comes into play.
The Eighth Step is not easy; it demands a new kind of honesty about our relations with other people. The Eighth Step starts the procedure of forgiving others and possibly being forgiven by them, forgiving ourselves, and learning how to live in the world. By the time we reach this step, we have become ready to understand rather than to be understood. We can live and let live easier when we know the areas in which we owe amends. It seems hard now, but once we have done it, we will wonder why we did not do it long ago.
…The final difficulty in working the Eighth Step is separating it from the Ninth Step. Projecting about actually making amends can be a major obstacle both in making the list and in becoming willing. We do this step as if there were no Ninth Step. We do not even think about making the amends but just concentrate on exactly what the Eighth Step says which is to make a list and to become willing. The main thing this step does for us is to help build an awareness that, little by little, we are gaining new attitudes about ourselves and how we deal with other people.
– Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 8
it has been quite the season
looking for a reason
and a rhyme
there is no explanation
nor is there need
as is being learned (again)
to err is human
to be human is the goal
the only goal
well, maybe an encore too
just to make certain we got it
Make them laugh, it comes so easy
When you get to the part
Where you’re breaking my heart (breaking my heart)
Hide behind your smile, all the world loves a clown
(Just make ’em smile the whole world loves a clown)
Wish you well, I cannot stay
You deserve an award for the role that you played (role that you played)
No more masquerade, you’re one lonely star
(One lonely star and you don’t know who you are)
Say good-bye (bye bye), say good-bye
All the world is a stage (world is a stage)
And everyone has their part (has their part)
But how was I to know which way the story’d go
How was I to know you’d break
(You’d break, you’d break, you’d break)
You’d break my heart
The show is over, say good-bye
have had a sinus infection for over 2 weeks now.
individual nature continues to go in the direction it always has. the position i find myself standing in often reflects the position one which i have been facing before.
the onset of worry is sometimes like the blanket i use to keep my body warm while i sleep.
the business of selling myself has developed a ritualistic and spiral flavor.
i lost touch with my sense of kindness recently as i felt hurt by indifference.
i feel vindicated as i take refuge in a shelter from the elements, but this break from my path has cost time.
what good is a win if it takes a toll in serenity?
as the earth moves on, so must we.
forgiveness rarely keeps us stuck.
as a result of my recent resignation from the workplace, an ask of direction as well as intention seems a good next step. one could wonder if perhaps i might have benefitted from taking the time to do this seriously prior to stepping through the next appearing doorway. but that particular hindsight may have no influence here.
this blog falls under the purview of this next step. started blogging during my 3rd year of recovery about 2006. it was fun then taking on a new hobby. it felt clunky and i didn’t have a road map. there were online communities and instructions, but that is not how i have ever learned a skill (this trait still holds true). i remember when i got my first comment on my blog from a fellow blogger from idaho who was struggling with some similar issues as well as struggling with his life choices. it is an instant recall to muster the excitement and validation i felt when some unknown soul from outside my own personal universe connected with my journey. i was hooked and soon i had fashioned a support network of seekers from around the globe which was less demanding and intimate than my friends in real life. it extended my outreach and influence, while at the same time i stunted my emotional growth experience.
but as my recovery journey emanated beyond the blog-o-sphere and co-mingled with my career path my inspiration and artistic freedom shrank. although blogging remains a vital spiritual practice for me, the profile of this practice has diminished these 8 years. the output is restricted to internal struggles, the organically embedded love of music woven through me, and reposted images and graphics. many times, i find myself sitting in front of the keyboard engaging in a sort of improvisational blogging, drawing inspiration from a found jpg or png, or a swirling few tidbits of a newly discovered or recently remembered melody or lyric. it is mostly rote and completely routine providing more reassurance to me than release. i am more connected with the process than i am with the content. it has become more objectively introspective than externally exploration and provides the sustenance of a snack now than the meal it served up at the start of it all. i now possess a sense of ownership rather than the inspiration i once knew.
i long for a rekindling of my spiritual connectedness to this process. i continue to resonate with a life built upon shame based trauma. it is a reflection of my own story, but i don’t seem to have gained insight by a continued stream of internal review.
just as it became appropriate to transition from journalling about addiction, treatment, hiv, meth, and rogue sexual ideology to the more reflective topic of long-term recovery, it now seems time to channel a new muse.
i am unsure if i am too weathered to begin all over. i long to use personally generated graphics and images at least as a philosophy and a cornerstone of my product. it seems imperative to extend my view outward and process my experience from an evolved vantage point.
our nature is simply our nature. it is often said “don’t play in a lightning storm” yet so many of us do exactly that. i have been doing something very near anyway. my supervisions these last 2 months have been charged with condescension, passive aggresive projection, posturing, and hyper i’m-right-edness. needless to say it has been equally toxic and exhaustive.today i decided to take cover.it hur no more dancing in a lightning storm. it hurts too much. it just hurts too damn much.
taking chances has a way of becoming just that- chance. probablility and outcome influence my every move. i took a chance. and i am tumbling. i got burnt. gave me a boo boo. now what to do.
come in from the rain.
and then what?
Well, hello there
Good old friend of mine
You’ve been reaching for yourself
For such a long time
There’s so much to say
No need to explain
Just an open door for you
To come in from the rain
It’s a long road
When you’re all alone
And someone like you
Will always take the long way home
There’s no right or wrong
I’m not here to blame
I just want to be the one
Who keep you from the rain
From the rain
And it looks like sunny skies
Now that I know you’re alright
Time has left us
I know I am
‘Cause I think of us
Like an old cliche
But it doesn’t matter
‘Cause I love you anyway
Come in from the rain
And it looks like sunny skies
Now that I know you’re alright
Time has left us
I know I am
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last friday i flew to chicago and promptly drove to union pier michigan with a couple of friends to spend time in a cottage here that they have adopted as their home away. i spent the 1st 36 hours unwinding, rewinding, unbinding, and unbending all the knots and twists and broken places that i have barely noticed have taken place since this part of my journey began nearly 10 years ago.
it seems so simple now with hindsight to see that most of what i have experienced may well have been about patching holes i had in my life rather than creating new space and adventures. it seems funny and almost bittersweet to think that i have been refinishing and re-upholstering these last 10 years to try to bring my being to reflect the empirical value of my experiences and my life to be emblematic of a metaphor with the value of all the experiences, tragedies, and triumphs that any life may hold.
these next years just may be about seeing what this old but polished up vessel may still have left in her with regard to sea-worthiness. i can’t guarantee she will sail around the world, but i am confident there will be new ports of call. this is cause for hope.
i plan on connecting with a former neighbor who has relocated to a town about 10 minutes from here. it seems strange that life can be so connected that my past can intersect with my present in such a randomly concise way. but that is life as i know it.
i typed out a post which seemed perfect earlier here. then with one random stroke trying to properly place my little pic of the beach stairs, i erased those 8 paragraphs. i don’t have it in me to recreate them. i know better than to be angry about it. i can only move forward in the here and now. letting go of what could have been and what i intended. what i am left with is what actually from 1 perspective. no doubt it is as good as it gets. loving this rewind.
memorial day weekend 2014, hbo brought us ryan murphy’s film adaptation of larry kramer’s play “the normal heart”. memorial day indeed.
1981 heralded in what is the most prolific alarm of my lifetime; a mysterious gay cancer that was leveling the souls of a once small number of gay men in american urban meccas with the voracity of weed whacker on a summer day on cul-du-sac. the real difference however was that the force behind the whacking seemed at once mercurial, invisible, and personal. and as hiv machete(d) a path through our lives those early years, it left deep and cavernous scar tissue that remains tender now and will remain so most likely to our end of days.
the first in our circle that i can really recall was john bennet. and i behaved like a complete ass towards him. he was a friend of blue’s and he was whispering in a loud darkened corner of the manhole about his diagnosis. i remember reacting to the news with complete and caustic judgement. how dare he pick such a place to disclose? so inappropriate. john slipped away within weeks. i saw him a couple more times and silently screamed at the horror of his weight loss and the onset of a death mask that became so damn common in our circles.
the biggest trauma for me was twofold. my bestie paul had moved to nyc to attend columbia. he was such a cutie-pie; handsome, intelligent, funny, awkward, and loving. he was buff and beautiful. he was ready for the 80’s. 2 years later he moved back to chicago having lost 1/3 of his body weight while learning to cope with constant diarrhea and thrush. we had become friends through restaurant work and soon moved on to food nerds and wine snobs as well. i remember upon his return going to dinner at a new tapas restaurant on halsted and witnessing his tears as the food we shared seared into his über delicate tongue like a branding iron.
i tested positive the same year paul died. the war front atmosphere of life for this gay man became too much to even pretend to handle. cocaine and vodka acted like a key to the door of my cellar of ignorance and i went there as often as i could. please don’t read this as “oh woe is me”. i don’t know many gay men and women who don’t still carry trauma from those years. it was much like that movie inception where the world starts to fold up on itself like a fold up chess board but with us as the pieces still remaining in play. that sort of experience takes time to comprehend, let alone move beyond.
i found the hbo production to be a beautiful gift. i think it is enormously thoughtful and detailed. it captures the essence of that time for me. i remember viewing actup the same way i reacted to john bennet. with judgement and avoidance. frankly, i don’t do conflict well. i learned early on that tuning out was my drug of choice and so faced with these hard realities, i did the only thing i knew.
but thank goodness for larry kramer, actup, and the revolution. i am so indebted to their ability to be present in that amazing crisis. i cared for people who needed it, but to have the where-with-all to scream at injustice like a scene from “invasion of the body snatchers” seems prolific and monument-worthy. as a culture, we were not prepared for any of this. we snapped and bitched at each other out of terror. it took years to find common ground and resolve. it took thousands of memorial services, funerals, and volunteer hours.
it was a complete loss of innocence for our people. there was a very short and immensely beautiful adolescence before we were thrust into adulthood. then there is ptsd, chemo-like medication, survivor’s guilt, repressed anger, and aging. don’t get me wrong. i love my life today. i love being sober. i love my vocation and being able to offer support to others. but i do still miss those days and those beautiful souls. and i would step back for a minute. even knowing what was coming.
Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols… Thomas Mann
thank you larry kramer. thank you peter staley. thanks to so many of you for guiding the ship while i threw up over the side. i honestly regret not seeing your inner light back then. i needed you. we needed you and never were able to recognize it, let alone appreciate how important expressing our anger would be and how far that would help us travel. and we helped our community and our world step into a new century with insight and understanding beyond imagination.