Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day one hundred and forty one ... This is not a test.

I've been going through a lot lately.

Well, I should say that I've been trying to deal with a lot lately. The only things I've been going through have been the reasons I'm grateful that I am currently clean and sober.

From November, 05 until January, 07, I handled my mother's illness the best way I knew how. I tried my best to do the right things, to say what I meant, to listen to every word, to be there when I should, and to remember how I felt, so that in time, when the dust settled and I could rebuild my life and start feeling normal again, I would recall what it felt like to be crushed by a boulder in the middle of nowhere, without food or water or a pen-knife to cut my arm away at the point where it was broken, and to somehow make it out alive.

This last detail, I hoped, would allow me to never take anything for granted.

I had a safety in my aunt.

I remember telling her, as I was leaving to go to Europe with the Young at Heart back in 2006, how I wouldn't have been able to lead such a glamorous and exciting lifestyle if she weren't back home taking care of things. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said: "Thank you, Alex. I know. Your mother loves you more than life itself and she wants you to be happy. Go fulfill her wishes. Someday it will be your turn to take care of me."

And that trip was a very important one indeed, as I was able to visit my relatives in Poland for a couple of days. It had been my mother's dream to go to there someday with her son. That, of course, had become impossible to do, but I gave her the next best thing: pictures of me with my cousins and aunt and uncle at their home and in Krakow, and the stories to go along with it.

On that fateful trip I called back every few days from the confining, confusing, and very pungent confines a Berlin payphone. We spoke briefly but excitedly of how things were going and what sights I had seen. I had been on, not my best behavior, but certainly not my worst. Upon reaching my destination in Poland I remember passing the phone around to my many relatives so they could speak to their very sick relative. It was one of the things I am most happy I accomplished.

She was so proud that her boy had followed through with the journey. It meant that he was beginning to believe in the worth of perseverance.

Presently, I stand in the middle of the second-most trying time in my life. I have a million variables circling around inside and outside of my head, heart and extremities.

I can see the neon in the package store windows glistening like drool from a hungry lion's mouth.

I can hear the numbers in my dog-eared address book calling me. They were written in my hand, not that long ago, but I can still remember the way I felt when I traced those ten digits with a pen point dripping ink like rain onto a field of poison berries. My, how they grow with the slightest bit of moisture.

And I see my friends partaking in the activities I used to look forward to--more so even, than the reason I was with them.

And I realize why I can't let any of this deter me. I realize that there is only one reason that I am even in the position I am in, where I have the ability and freedom to drive by those package stores, to make a phone call from my phone with no one timing me and listening to every word, and to be with my friends on this crazy journey we are all on, that I all too often take for granted.

I can think as straight as I can walk a line. And, as god is my witness, I will follow that line if it means I walk straight past the brightest neon beckoning in the windows, forsaking the easiest cure-all remedies that man or nature can create, and straight into the lion den, past a sleeping cub and her mother and curl up on the stone floor and feel not the slightest bit of fear, for I am as strong as the fiercest beast of nature.

Strength is power.

Fear forsakes trust.

Time is running out, but I shall beat the clock if it means I am impaled on its insistent, self-propelled pendulum.

Take nothing for granted and you will own no regrets.

Fearless by design, or fearless by default. Once you have become either one, only time will decide who wakes up in the morning, and who sleeps forever.

Thanks for reading.


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