April 26, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

Another Sunday of sailing across the Sea of During. (Since I typed that period, I’ve spent 20 minutes trying to figure out whether that first sentence is iambic pentameter or whether its consonance/sibilance misleads me into hearing poetry. It’s early, and this is where my brain goes with the first ingestion of coffee. I apologize.) Another day for gratitude for the gift of recovery. Really.

Yesterday I wrote about beards and recovery, which led to a number of phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages, etc. Many of them were mocking my notion that I’ve ever had a beard—that picture of what I thought was a bearded me was simply a man who needed a shave or testosterone injections if he refused to get one. Some were suggestions I never have a beard again. The most moving, though, were about my statement, a commonplace one I think, “You are in recovery when you say you’re in recovery.” Apparently that notion is controversial among my 12-Step friends in particular. Who knew?

It’s never my goal to offend—to throw ladyfinger firecrackers into the campfire, yes, or to spark a heated conversation, yes—but this basic idea, that your recovery is your business and of your definition, is something I’m willing to vehemently defend. But not right here or right now—it’s a spectacular Sunday of sailing the Sea of During. (Can a poet in the audience please sound off on iambic pentameter—or at least offer a diagnosis?)

Instead, a number of folks (more than four but fewer than 400) asked if I could direct them to more on the question of recovery, or at least my take on it. To meet that small need, here are six short pieces for you to ponder

A Vietnam Veteran’s Death—“And of the dead speak only truth”

Between Tide and Traffic: Alcoholics of My Type

There is No God, but that Doesn’t Stop Him from Working

A Drunkard’s DreamIMG_3140.jpeg

Three-Dimensional Russian Roulette:  Me and Heroin

I Wasn’t an Alcoholic—I Just Drank to Stay Sane

They were all written before I came toHope, and represent any views other than my own. Still, I stand by them.

And by you.

After all,

You matter. I matter. We matter.


p.s. Here is a real example of iambic pentameter from one of my favorite poems:

I have been one acquainted with the night.

I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.

I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.

– Robert Frost, “Acquainted with the Night”

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