Thursday, January 06, 2011


I have an addictive, obsessive personality. Always have, at this late date I'd say always will. In high school I had two obsessions: first, mathematics, which I expressed by keeping a "math journal" (which I still have and can't make sense of); later, astronomy, after Harvard accepted me into the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), one of the few teens in the country so honored (yes, we nerds thought of it as an honor, which is not what my jock acquaintances thought about it), when my obsession became keeping track of 3 variable stars assigned to me. I didn't chase girls in high school, I estimated the brightness of variable stars. (And look at him today, or even in his 20s ha ha).

In the Army, I learned how to drink, keeping up with older "big brothers" and this is the obsession that became an addiction and almost killed me. A doctor at the VA Hospital saved my life by being non-judgmental and straight with me; and later, a counselor the same, getting me into a full year in-house treatment program at the VA, which is what it took.

Work has always been an obsession and addiction as well but this defines me for better or for worse. At least it won't kill me, though I hope to be working when I pass. The key, then, is to find addictions that won't kill you. Personally I find a lot of mumbo-jumbo New Age nonsense in the American recovery industry, having reached this conclusion by doing a lot of reading when I was assigned to work in the medical library at the VA during my treatment. I read European journals in the field, which have a very different take on matters and are not beholden to AA as even the VA  is here (so that when my counselor slipped me a book even semi-critical of AA he had to tell me he'd deny doing this -- but may the gods bless him for his wisdom in doing so!). AA is fine for those for whom it works but it embraces an anti-intellectual, non-existential posture that I find abhorrent. It's also thoroughly Christian, though it denies this -- but try suggesting a Buddhist prayer in a typical AA meeting! Better yet, today, a Muslim prayer ha ha.

Anyway the gods have guided me through many a storm, so many that it would be bad form to expect more guidance from them, which means I actually do try to live each moment as if it is my last. Sooner or later I'll be right. I guarantee it.

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