Pennsylvania 2014, Poconos Mountains – somewhere about half way…
We had drove for about an hour. Climbing all the way up a twisting narrow road that cut through thick forrest. The trees were so high as to block out most of the fading natural light and cast a darkness over the road. A shadow deep enough to make driving at that speed a little challenging. The tarmac snaked up and up till we reached a flat clearing and on it stood a building. We had travelled a long way to be there. I certainly didn’t have a personal invite and at that point didn’t realise exactly what I was walking into. My good friend and travel companion had spoke many times about the man who was celebrating there that night. As it turned out we weren’t the only ones who had travelled… both in miles and experience!
The men in that room were of various ages and it turns out some of them were bordering ancient. The top man himself was in his 80’s and a few, one in particular, was quite a bit older. Some of these guys go back almost to the first 100. They had came from many parts of the United States just to be there that night. The experience itself was incredible. There was an energy in that room I’ve never felt before or since. One I will never be able to forget. One thing more than any other sticks with me and I knew it meant something as soon as I heard it. I had no idea what. Three men spoke from a podium for no more than fifteen minutes each. They had been hand picked by the Gentleman in question and what they shared was inspirational beyond words. But the last one, a real big fella who was in his 90’s barely looking a day over 60, stole the show with a poem that ended… “I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon”. There was electricity in the air and I felt plugged into it! I knew right away I would never forget those words. Speaking with the old boy later I felt like I was around somebody who knew something I didn’t. Confirmed by the warmth of his laugh and the knowing look in his eyes as he listened to me, it was a silent “Good luck kid”.
Fort Worth Texas, Dallas Airport – around 2 years later…
I had a 4 hour wait till my flight to Heathrow and was propping up a bar stool chasing that sense of ease and comfort. Half a dozen Bloody Marys, the beers I had sank in Fresno, and a short skin full on the plane into Dallas were starting to take effect. I was busy hitting it hard and amusing myself with the waitress for over an hour. Her cleavage was costing me 20 dollars every round and it was now starting to feel surreal. I was surrounded by Stetson hats, cowboy boots and bootlace neckties. The psychotic party for one was in full swing as ZZ Top blasted out of the sound system. I was reminded of the ‘Titty Twister’, like been stuck in a Tarantino movie. I knew I was heading into blackout and decided to make the call before it was too late. On the other end of the line would be a friend. He had known I was struggling, that I was in over my head and that soon I would probably crash. He didn’t at this point know I was heading home or that I was drunk. It works both ways! In the build up to this train crash I had become totally self absorbed. Self-centredness reigned supreme. He picked up the phone. He had been drinking! Turns out he had had a whole load of shit of his own going on. Shit I had been incapable of seeing due to been a Grade A selfish fucker totally absorbed in me. He had been sober a good while and his crash equaled mine and some.
Ive Came to Believe that the God of my understanding doesn’t create problems. Humans have always done a grand job of that without needing assistance. Rather he develops solutions by using whatever is at hand. Me and my friend where heading in a parallel direction and it was about to get worse before it got better.
We met up in a coffee shop in a place called Trinity Square. My evaluation of the situation at that point was… “Deep shit fucked up beyond repair”. I had never in my life felt that bad. He looked worse! As we parted company that day he turned and said “One day we will look back and laugh at this”. I seriously doubted it.
In the weeks that followed we stayed close. A couple of hours together most days. Taking turns to talk and periods of silence and staring into space. We cracked jokes while always on the edge of cracking up without a hope of return. There was times when his sickness would aggravate mine and vice versa. I would make a few days sober then fall back into the bottle and repeat. He went on his own mission to make things worse causing personal chaos that he can describe much better than I can. In short he worked himself chronic with most people. Eventually he was carted off to a rehab in some seaside town promising to get in touch as soon as he was allowed to make contact. I settled down to the thought of a marathon period of rebuilding. One I had no idea how to run. It was very hard work and I had the same conviction as listening to that parting comment in Trinity Square. Even though many people who matter commented on the fact I was doing better than I thought it still felt like the circus was in town and the monkey on my back was here to stay.
Weeks passed and with the help of others I managed to stay sober. Then the phone rang. It was him. He had walked out of the rehab and was at a train station heading home. I worried for him. I remembered us been on a platform not that long ago and I was convinced he would throw himself under the next train. But something had changed. There was an enthusiasm in his voice when he told me he knew what he was doing and what was going to happen next.
Back home he took to the task. He stayed close to those who could help. We met up regularly and talked about what happened, where to go next, and what was it that was deeply wrong with us. No darkness remained hidden! Impressively he went about cleaning up the shit he had made and managed to gain a foothold when some wanted to cast him off. He got put on shift in the Bentnick Hotel and spread some peace to those going through personal nightmares of their own.
Moving around jobs to better his own situation has always been accompanied by a never ending commitment to help those who ask him. Myself included. His crash was public and massive. His comeback has been monumental. Ive learned so much and am incredibly proud of him. Throughout all the rigorous honesty he has always pointed and never lectured. A few years have passed and we got to “look back and laugh”. The growth has been amazing and the journey though rarely easy has at times been very exciting. I wouldn’t change a second of it. But above everything… I got to see a sermon.
“The Steps are not the work, they remove the blocks that stop you from performing the work” – Don P
“Nothing is important life is just a comedy ~ Aye a fucking black one” – In conversation
“… tried to carry this message…” – 12
D&O in Fresno