Monday, January 08, 2007

Past and Present

I'm having a pretty difficult time in the present. So I wonder, do I look to the past for encouragement? The only future I can surely be encouraged by is in the world after this one. If the only future I could foresee was an endless suspension in this sin cursed world, I would truly despair. Looking back I can be encouraged by two things: 1. Struggles that I endured and are now behind me 2. Joys that I have known.

When I began this blog a couple of years ago I thought to chronicle the past few decades of my life. I have done bits of that. I told the story of my racist upbringing. I gave a glimpse into my life as a wannabe antiwar radical in 69 or 70. Perhaps I told a tale or two about family life raising what were once my four little children.

Were I so inclined, I could include some lurid tales to match the allure of most of those miserable hundreds of channels of T.V. (Terrible Vacuum?) However, there would be a very great danger that some fool might read such tales and imagine it as an adventure rather than the blistering ride through hell that it actually was. At least, that is what it became.

I do think one short exploration of my past might serve to save some poor soul who is blindly walking towards more pain than they can currently imagine.

I do not have time to chronicle all the drugs I have abused, used, or been a guinea pig for. Really, the list boggles my mind, and it is not easily boggled these days. Some like LSD, were a wild ride from day one. Others like marijuana were part of the scene, but never really what I craved. My experiences snorting coke and amphetamines are varied, but thankfully rather limited. To this very day, some worthy products of the pharmaceutical industry are keeping me on a far more even keel than I had imagined possible well into my fifties.

I think the most insidious drug of all was alcohol. In the early days of drinking, it just seemed to be guarranteed good times and good feelings. I was cursed with a remarkable immunity to hangovers for the first decade or more of my drinking career. So even the day after a binge offered only a small rebuke to me. Certainly nothing that would prevent me from seeking the good times again, and soon.

Some of the ugliest things I did while drunk were thought by me to be the pinnacle of a man's destiny. A phony pinnacle as old as the phrase wine, women, and song. A pinnacle that now seems a pit from my current vantage.

Alcohol is unique in its acceptance. The bible praises alcohol. I believe Jesus drank alcohol. Alcohol is so simple to produce that prisoners in a stalag could produce it with potato peelings and a bit of ingenuity. It is so cheap and easy to procure that a preteen can pay a wino to buy two bottles, one for each of them.

Unlike food, water, or air, we can live a very complete life without alcohol.
How then did I come to regard it as so vital to my well being?

Alcohol offered what seemed to be the easy way out of any problem. Anxious, take a drink. Scared, take a drink. Can't sleep, take a drink. Shy, take a drink, well maybe three or four or more. My own mother suggested that a beer or two each night in my freshman dorm room would make it easier for me to sleep amidst the chaos of 1968 in college.

To this day I believe that very moderate consumption of alcohol is not a problem for most folks. Drunkeness, however, is always a problem. It is a giant bomb with, for most people, a very long fuse. Months, years, even decades of excessive alcohol use can pass before one realizes that the bomb has already exploded. One's life has blown to pieces in such slow motion that he might imagine that it has just been an exhilirating ride with a rather sudden end.

I thank God that my ride on the alcohol train ended before my life did.

I hope that any other idols I am clutching will be pulled from my hands. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
For God tells me. So I know.
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