A Little Bit of It In Everyone
I was a whopping 8-years old when Neil Young released the song, The Needle and the Damage Done. Though it would be a short 5 years later that I first listened introspectively to his haunting prophetic decrees; it was also then as a somewhat “dazed and confused” young man (minus the band), that I seemed almost “hell bent” on being on the other end of this woefully accurate foretelling.
A bag of Columbian Gold was my first gig, and before long I had graduated to a medley of cocktails that included everything from Quaaludes and whiskey; cocaine and LSD; to the likes of gasoline and Pam cooking spray (No, I didn’t stutter). In essence, whatever I could afford and whatever gave me the means to escape the place in the world I never really felt I belonged in for a myriad of reasons, was indeed fair game to this all too eager participant. They say marijuana is the gateway to other drugs, and I won’t argue either way. What I do know is that if a druggie’s pathway is from 1stto home plate, in my mid teens, I had already rounded third and was headed for the home run! The only thing left for me at that point, was to “let her under your skin”; and by God’s grace; like Neil Young, “I watched the needle take another man” to the point at which something jarred in me a determination to never cross that very pivotal line.
So after the whole of my teenage years comprised of time in the county jail, reform school, drug and alcohol programs and county hospitals; something inside of me swallowed the bitter red pill of a very abrupt truth about where my life was headed at the age of 18; and that at the very least was a speed-bump to a fast car life headed for nowhere extremely fast! It would then take until the age of 27 to take the “a little bit of it in everyone” out of me, but I watched enough men and women ruin their lives and eventually die, even at an early age; enough to make me intensely aware of where my life was headed should I not attempt to somehow change the course of my life.
Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword (Drug)
I was no drug kingpin to say the least, but I knew who they were. They had all the good drugs, and the pubescent bell-bottom groupie chicks that would do anything for another taste at their beckoned call—and far too youthful for such a grave choice to be made. But then again, these pushers were the outlaws that every girl wanted, and somehow, for a brief moment, I thought that was also the man I wanted and needed to be. As a result, I at least attempted to give them a run for their money. Yet as I grew older, I continued to watch my reluctant hero’s stoically continue their apothecary occupation into a new era when some of us were actually trying to grow up, and I also watched them enter and exit prison yards, as well as check in to the undertaker’s dead-end alley.
I was reminded this week, as more of my reluctant hero’s and those of which actually became my friends, are found still “knocking at(someone’s) cellar door”, still chanting “I love you baby, can I have some more”, as they and those around them now know all too well that their hourglass is distributing its remaining granules. They have now long since cut their hair, the lovely aficionados surrounding them are no more, and time is of course no longer a trump card in their favor. And as I contemplate this glaring reality, my heart grows very sad indeed. For as someone who over the years has attempted to rescue such reluctant hero’s time and again; as of yet, I have no track record of success, but rather a sigh of a medley of needles taking another man, as I hear Neil echo “ooh, ooh, the damage done”—yet again.
The Medley of Junkies
Of course it would be easy to simply put my past self and people like I’ve described into a label of sorts, and yet forget about the monster under our own bed. After all, the blog is called “A Medley of Needles and the Damage Done”. And of course the junkies’ “setting sun” comes in various stages.
My dear Father was one such junkie I suppose—God rest his beautiful soul. He took a pill to wake up; to manage his depression; to go to bed; to wake up again; and much later, his daily concoction of capsules could have stockpiled a “mom and pop” pharmacy in a quick recession. And you and I know junkies just like this, and many of us even look at them in the mirror each morning; and some of us refuse to look, as we have more excuses than the prescriptions we take.
Others of us resort to liquid drugs. We stockpile our cabinets, and take our sedative(s) each evening as we settle in, rinse and repeat until we’ve had our fill, and we have a myriad of good reasons as to “why” that are all related to the same escapism of the not so glamorous junkie knocking on someone’s cellar door. After all, life is hard—no argument there. And we’ve got a family to feed; the taxman cometh; we have teenagers (Slam dunk for the justification on this one); our marriage is not so good or falling part, and the list goes on. But then there’s that cute little monster under our bed we also choose to ignore.
The 800-Pound (Monster) In the Room
The new Canadian thinker and overnight phenomenon Jordan Peterson tells the story in his book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, about a boy and a monster he sees in his room. He tells his Mother about the monster, but she quickly tells him, “Honey, there are no monsters”. The boy simply goes along with it, and yet as each day and month passes by, the monster gets bigger, and more horrid and hairier. As the boy brings this apparent predicament up to her, each time she retorts that “There are no such things as Monsters”; until such a time, that one day the Monster has grown the size of the house to the point that it its arms and legs are actually protruding out the windows and has become part of the house, and has thus overtaken it. Then one day, when the Father comes home, the house has gone AWOL because the Monster has left and taken the house and his wife and kid with him. At that point, they all frantically look for the house, and when they find it, the Mother can no longer deny the “ginormity” of the Monster, and confesses to the son that she indeed sees it clear as a bell; at which point the monster then shrinks back down to a tiny cute little blob sitting in the corner. And at least for now, he is of no harm to no one.
The moral of the story is both obvious and also approaching a grim un-comfort zone for the most of us. The fact of the matter is that there is a medley of monstrous “needles” in everyone that most of us ignore to our eventual and certain peril. And it’s not just the self-medication strategies of numerous varieties aforementioned; but it’s also the marriage on the rocks, the wayward teen we’re ignoring, the Dun-lap belly, the decision to abandon all and follow the man from Galilee on the narrow path, and so on.
All of us have reasons as to why we pretend these things are “not” there, or that we put off calling it out until “tomorrow”, or; that we simply allow to grow to the size that it takes over our lives, emerging eventually into the junkie’s “setting sun”. Whatever your Monster is lurking under your bed, or that has taken over a piece of your home, or perhaps your whole life-house…perhaps it’s time to give it a name before the damage is done.