“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance–that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
I ignored similar concepts for most of my life. I would have told you that I was a liberal, well-educated, philosophically-inclined, hyper-intelligent and well-informed chap, a credit to my mother, my school and my community, and an excellent judge of fine liquor. All but the last were debatable. In reality I was a hard-headed, opinionated, fuzzy-thinking, gun-loving Republican asshole and drunken drug addict. And no, I’m not being hard on myself.
I had some good qualities, for sure. I tried to be a good father, husband, son, and so-on-and-so-forth. I was kind to animals, fumbled around helping people in various ways, went to church to please my family, worked hard at my various careers and tried to be a nice guy. For the most part I hadn’t a clue, but I bumbled along until the last two or three years of my drinking and drugging without hurting anyone too much — I thought. Of course there was the failed marriage, careers dumped when I became bored, poor example for my kids, obligations not met, etc.
All suppositions are relative.
I mention these things to indicate to you, gentle reader, that I was a pretty messed up guy for about twenty years. Then I got into booze and drugs, and the next 25 were a real picnic! I’m not proud of that, but nowadays it doesn’t upset me much, either. Like most everyone, I tried to do my best and, considering the obstacles I put in my own way, I didn’t do near as badly as I might have. But that’s not the reason it fails to upset me.
I’ve come to realize that I was not a happy camper from an early age, and that I would likely have been a pretty miserable s.o.b. even if I hadn’t discovered the wonders of modern living through chemistry. I didn’t know how to be happy, and if I hadn’t had my ass kicked by drugs and alcohol and needed to solve that, I would probably never have realized that things could be different.
But — thank Heavens or whomever — I am an alcoholic. I am an addict. And I am in a program of recovery, the results of which — for me, anyway — have made all the misery of the preceding years a high but bearable tariff for what I now have: peace of mind, the ability to be alone with myself while feeling as though I’m in pretty good company, a better understanding of people and my relationships with them, and a spiritual–if not religious–life.
Cheap at the price.