Hello, its Tuesday afternoon, and here I am again in Phoenix, looking for jobs, putting ads on Craig's List, and trying to recover from four days of feeling like I'm trapped in a de Chirico painting. I'll never forget the first time I saw a de Chirico, I think it was at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I had never encountered a painting where I felt the artist had captured the kind of isolation I had experienced at times, for the whole of my life. I remember at the time, I had a book of the master painter's masterpieces, and I could not stop looking at those paintings. Lately, I have felt that same isolation, that same sense of despair, that same place that depressed people come to know well. I do have, however, some very practical and real ways to overcome it when I feel that sense of isolation. I just came home from The Lunch Bunch Crossroads AA meeting, the same meeting I went to on August 23, 1998, where I managed to stay sober for seven years. When my father went missing in 2005, and I had my hip replaced, I was in and out of sober periods, until this last year, were I've managed to stay sober until today. Yesterday, I experienced such a severe sense of despair, that those drinking thoughts came lurking in. They always come disguised in some strange costume, with lots of beautiful things to say. Today, I knew what I needed to do, which was go to a meeting, which I did. It has passed, and afterwards the ideas of what I can do came bubbling to the surface again. I know that if I get on the phone and start calling people, if I let the ideas begin to take some practical direction, I'll be able to navigate through it. Writing it down is always a good way to actually examine what I'm thinking, and also a good way of being honest and forthcoming with the thing I am struggling with. I've had people wonder at the notion that I would talk about it in a public forum, but to most people who know me, me being chased by the bourbon demon is not new to them. Oh, I suppose it does get tiresome, but you should see it from my own experience. It gets tiresome to have to wage these battles, although there are plenty of weeks and days I don't really have to think about it. I don't think it's nearly as severe as say schizophrenia, as the voices are not really audible in the brain, but I think the ideas and the temptations to take action are equally as powerful. After a prolonged period of despair, the thoughts eventually come to find someway of altering its intensity, and the first thing that comes to mind is an immediate chemical alteration, which inevitably, will only make things worse. Of course the notion of time seems to disappear amidst the idea of an immediate solution, which is why so many relapse. I know if the brain leads you down a road of despair with enough fury, altering it has nothing to do with time, because the brain begins to tell you that your death may be impending anyway, so what's the difference. For some of you who don't experience this, I know it may be hard to understand, but its what I deal with, but not all the time. If you are interested, look at a de chirico painting, particularly for me, the ones with the buildings with the arches, it will help you understand this kind of isolation. Of course you may see something else, which is the wonder of the artistic masterpiece.
Many of you may be wondering why I am back in Phoenix after putting into such energetic motion the quest for Austin, Texas again. And, it's true, I did spend a week in Austin, looking for work, looking for a place to live, and looking for love. The only thing I can say at this point is that I didn't exactly fail, but I didn't exactly take over the aforementioned curriculum as I had planned. My expectations and visions of Austin had to be put on hold for now, as it seems, I came close to being homeless, and even though I flirted with this notion, that abject poverty is difficult to recover from, and so with the last of my funds, I chose to return here where I have the support of friends and family. Phoenix is a city I once conquered, and so it seemed like a practical choice. Even though a city once conquered doesn't seem so exciting, I've always sought to create excitement where none existed, and so I will do what I've always done, seek to find my own excitement. Perhaps there is a reason I'm here. Maybe its to re-visit it with a notion of forgiving it near the end of my last period here, without getting into it completely, let's just say my notion of this city was not in very good standing. But perhaps it had more to do with my own good standing, and less to do with what the city did not provide me with.
As for love, I found it, but having been away from it so long, perhaps I was careless in my recall of how it evolves and blooms, so I made mistakes in the midst of its celebration. I have to admit that I am still baffled by its undoing, but perhaps with time I can learn about my mistakes and have some clear way of how to rectify it. It felt so good to be in love again, so good to be intimate with another human being, but I failed it seems, in its ultimate navigation. Good Lord, what's to become of me! One revelation I have had in the last couple of years has been the vision that the last act of my life must be about solution. Maybe in my persistent quest to be a playwright, I've come to be an active craftsman of how I think the play (life) must go. This can't be good for love, because I'm not only writing my own lines but writing the lines of everyone around me, including the one I chose to love. How does one escape from having the line and action in one's head immediately after one has given his own? I don't know. I only know that every scene I've written for the last twenty-five years has a purpose and a magical arch. Oh, life doesn't really work that way, or does it? Perhaps as an actor, I spent to many hours adhering to the ten rules of improvisation. However, as I look at it, the number one rule is: Find the truth in the given circumstance. Does this not play out profoundly on the world's stage as Shakespeare said that all the world is a stage and we merely the players? As I examine what I've just written, I stand on the principle that resolution is my only recourse, and that act two, further creating the complexity of conflict has to eventually have that second act turn.
In my twenties, I structured my life in ten-year increments. The decade of my twenties was consumed with gymnastics, that I might mold into submission the physical aspects of my body. In my thirties I sought the arts with the fervor of a crazed person, and stuffed enough literature and theatre into my mind and spirit to span three lifetimes. In my forties, I taught high school students what I had learned from my past experiences, while continually furthering my experiences as an artist. Ironically, now that I am facing my fifties, it seems I have come full circle. Shall I return with these revelations to a ten-year pursuit of physical prowess? How can I make this third act turn with certainly? How will I know I've made it? I believe, that even though life will always have its existential conflicts and unexpected turns, there should with time be some element of grace that one can rely on. It is obvious to me that one aspect of grace is the one God gives in his infinite mercy, but there is also a grace that should bestow a person from the wisdom of living.
Meanwhile, all I can do is try to do the next right thing. For the last year or so, I've noticed that the manic flurries of ideas have somewhat slowed down, and it seems lately, my ideas are progressing a little slower, which is really a good thing. Maybe this is what is happening to me in encountering love again in my life, perhaps its rise and fall can be progressive, and if it falls, maybe the sting of its death will not be as devastating as it once was…