March 30, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

thumbnail_Messages-I’ve learned a lot in recovery—about the universe, about humanity and, most of all, about me. Learning about the universe has been almost uniformly delightful; practicing acceptance and gratitude really does make a difference. Learning about humanity has been enlightening, given that I’d viewed all the other folks in the world as impediments to me getting what I wanted. By the end of my active use, of course, what I most wanted was to find a way to escape the toxic swamp of my existence. Oh, yes, the learning about me. That was no fun at all, since I’d been running from myself for 33 years of active use, using chemicals of all kinds to create various Keith escape vehicles. Most of what I learned about me was difficult, painful and required me to change the world by changing myself.

Today, though, I’ve come to grips with both my strengths—and I do have a few—and my weaknesses. I’ll never be—no surprise!—perfect, but because I can love your imperfection I can love mine. To, allegedly, quote Marilyn Monroe: “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” I am imperfect with a touch of madness and a willingness to be ridiculous. And that’s okay.

Today is Day 15 of Hope’s closure, which makes it also the 15th day I’ve been home with few visitors and few excursions out. This experience has taught me one thing I’d never really accepted before. I am embarrassed to share this with Hope Nation, but I do want to be transparent, do wish to reveal myself, warts and all. Please don’t laugh or mock when you read my confession, Dear Reader, but accept it the way you might a revelation of a secret shortcoming.

My secret shame?

No matter how hard I try, I can’t watch television or movies. There. I’ve said it. I find video of all kind boring and unwatchable. As I talk or otherwise communicate with friends, they’re all full of chatter about the shows they’re binge-watching on Netflix or Amazon Prime, the movies they’ve discovered or the YouTube tutorials they’ve learned from. I’ve got nothing to bring to the conversation, because I haven’t watched much of anything, even though I’ve tried. Really I have.

When I moved from the Tiny White Box into a house, I bought a large television and a Bose soundbar, intending to discover the joys of video. An Amazon Prime member, I also signed up for a free two-week trial of Netflix. Day after day and evening after evening I meant to devote at least an hour to watching television, but the world always held something more interesting. Washing dishes, walking Lucy, listening to music, writing, reading—all these things kept me from my appointed task—learning to love video. Within 10 days, when I hadn’t watched anything on Netflix, I cancelled my subscription. Still I had Prime, but video never made it to the top of the list.

Then 15 days ago, Hope was closed. I was self-quarantined. Now, finally, I would have the time to embrace video the way everyone else did. Except . . . I haven’t. In the last almost 350 hours, I’ve watched about 20 minutes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and . . . nothing else. That third of an episode was entertaining enough, but I lost interest when I remembered my paints and easel. I turned off the television, put on some music and painted, not well but enthusiastically.

Not well but enthusiastically. That’s how I paint and, most times, live my life. And that’s good enough for me.  And you, because

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith