Dear Hope Nation,
While I have new thoughts bubbling up all the time, I’m not above
stealing borrowing employing the fair-use doctrine to create derivative works for the purpose of satire. Typically, and in this case, I take smart and decent people’s ideas and render them either unintelligible or at least vastly different from their intended purpose, much as a six-year-old child will spray its mother’s expensive perfume in a room where matches have been played with. (The previous sentence should not be seen as a confession. Besides, the statute of limitations has long since rendered any misdeeds on my part moot and void.) Invoking the fair-use doctrine will likely not protect me legally, but what follows uses only the title of a book in a satirical, if not effective, way.
Thirty-one years ago, a guy named Stevie Covey wrote a little book that has since sold nearly a gajillion copies (Editor’s Note: the use of a diminutive nickname for the author and that of a made-up number signify further the lighthearted nature of this letter. They imply no mockery of either Mr. Covey or the number system.) That book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, to the best of my elderly memory, contained such off-color suggestions as:
- Sleep when you’re tired, drink when you’re dry, eat when you’re empty, pee when you’re full
- Don’t have an alligator mouth and a hummingbird ass
- Carry out your own dead
And four other equally useful habits. Covey’s book was treated reverentially and, when combined with David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, led to the economic renaissance on which we now look back. It was called, I believe, The Great Recession of 2008.
As a primer for those of you who may not have had the pleasure of sharing your life with someone in active addiction, I present my new version of Stephen Covey’s masterwork. (Note: From personal experience, I’ll tell you that living in active addiction is in no freaking way like living with someone in active addiction, any more than being a rabid raccoon is similar to living with a rabid raccoon.)
The Seven Habits of Highly Addicted People
- Your needs matter more than those of any other human being on the planet, living or dead. Once you’ve gotten adequate supplies on hand and in body you can worry about others. (Don’t fret—the word “adequate” guarantees you’ll stay focused on yourself.)
- No matter the price/cost/effort, protect access to your substance of choice/need. Do not let anything come between you and the substance that makes life livable.
- You can quit any time you want to—as long as you don’t want to quit now.
- The only people you can trust are other users. Lames are out to get you.
- You can’t trust other users. After all, would you trust yourself?
- The world is out to get you, particularly that part of the world that claims to care about you and wants to see you stop destroying your life.
- Your addiction is not that bad. Lots of people are way, way worse.
While these seven habits may seem outlandish, they, like all satire, contain not just a grain but an entire wheatfield of truth. Please remember: none of us needs to live this way. Please remember: recovery is possible and at hand. Please remember:
You matter. I matter. We matter.