The nice thing about having recovering addicts in your life is that you get to know each day that there’s no ground beneath you, no guarantee that tomorrow will be like today was.
It helps to point out how desperate our desire for stability and comfort is, and how illusory either one of those goals really are, addict or no. The reality is that anything we love can be taken from us at any moment, every moment that we’re here drawing breath. Is it difficult to live knowing that your nightmares, now dormant, can come back to life at any moment? Or is it better to pretend that they won’t, that the long night is over and here in the clear light of day everything is going to be fine and there’s no monster under the bed?
I think it’s better to see clearly how things are.
And to take that little bit of clarity and stretch it, expand it. It’s not just that your beloved addict might relapse and begin using again and once more pour gasoline over everything and toss a lit match on it- it’s that you might choke on a chicken bone at lunch, or they find a tumor on your heart, or a big rig slams into your wife’s car on the way home from work.
It really is like that.
I often dream of dying, usually in a plane crash, but in other ways, too. And you want to turn to your loved ones and take their hands and tell them you love them.
Well, we’re all on a plane that’s going down.
Hold on tight.
The real beauty of this world is revealed when you look at it with as much clarity and wisdom as you can muster. Really look, really see how it is. All that death, all that suffering, makes of this world a beautiful, heart-wrenching paradise. A paradise where everything you love will be wrenched away from you, where the innocents are tortured and slaughtered before our helpless eyes, or even at our own hands. The world exactly as it is contains every heaven, every paradise, every hell that’s ever been or will be imagined.
Once you lay claim to the fact that there’s no safety for you and never has been, that safety is not an aspect of reality at all, you’re free from expending all of that effort to attain something that is, even in its fullest realization, only provisional and temporary. Safe for a day. Safe for a week. A month or a year. But someone’s coming for you, and you’ll have to answer that knock.
I don’t want to die. I don’t want the children to be tortured and killed, the planes full of people to vanish, the machetes to swing in the night. But that’s how it is here. That’s what happens. Has always happened and will always keep happening. And not just us, you know, not just the bad humans. The slaughter is everywhere unabated in the animal realm. There’s no pity in the eyes of a lion or hyena. The incredible vast scale of killing and eating that goes on and has always fueled the machinery of life is almost impossible to comprehend.
And don’t even think about the pitilessness of cosmological actions. Entire worlds vanish, whole solar systems get wiped out in the blink of an eye.
We’re alive in a very tenuous way.
So, knowing this, what now?
You can weep, tear your hair, rend your garments, wail against the injustice of it all. You can build your shelter in the ground and stock it with provisions and stay there till the end of the world, you can numb yourself with television and every modern toy to distract you from what’s coming, if that’s what you want.
Or you can open your eyes, take a look around, and enjoy the ride.
I mean, what the fuck else is there?
Oh, yeah. Love everyone.
I mean, love their guts out.
The poor things. They’re all doomed anyway. Why not give them a little hug, a smile, a tender word?