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September 23 • Persistence Isn't Futile

Day 807


I spend too much time feeling sorry for myself because I am an addict. That can read that a couple of ways:

1) Because I am an addict, I spend too much time feeling sorry for myself, and/or
2) I feel sorry for myself because of all the stuff, shame, and work that weaves in and out of my life every day.

I think I'm feeling #2 today, but then I'm not sure there's a difference.


One of the safe places I go to 'veg out' is the good ship USS Enterprise. Most of the time, it's harmless escapism into the SciFi world of Star Trek. Still, the writers' well-documented efforts to engage the viewers in a morality play or challenge our various worldviews fascinates me.


It is not unusual to have an episode deliver insights into my recovery. Over the past fifty years, I've seen every episode of the original Shatner series, The Next Generation, Voyager, and Discovery (most of them multiple times). I've seen most of Deep Space Nine, all the movies, and none of that other series that starred the Quantum NCIS guy. This sounds a bit like a bottom-line manifestation confession of a 12 Step meeting, but it's not in my inner or middle circles, so I'm good (for now).


In different seasons of my life, I have taken away different messages from Star Trek (as well as from music, films, and other forms of pop culture); I have no qualms seeing these insights through the arts as reflections of our times and culture. Depending on what is happening in my life, I've been challenged on race, politics, religion, family, war, and more mores than I can count. Yesterday, it was my addiction, and my whining about it, that popped up through the rabbit hole.


Entitled ʻFamily,’ the episode was #2 from season four. The context was Captain Picard dealing with his fun-filled days of murderous mayhem as a kidnapped and assimilated member of the Borg. Now, he returns to Earth and the complicated and contentious relationship with his overbearing big brother, Robert, on the family farm in France. Picard was acting unusually self-pitying and uncertain about his future and abilities in the wake of his PTSD-like outlook. Following a bit of fisticuffs in the mud, the Captain breaks down and sobs “...what they did to me.”


After spending most of the episode being the crusty sonofabitch that was easy to dislike, big brother Robert saves the day:

"My brother is a human being after all. This is going to be with you for a long time, Jean Luc. A long time. You have to learn to live with it. You have a simple choice now. Live with it below the sea with Louis (who was recruiting Picard for a job on the ocean floor) or above the clouds with the Enterprise."

Well, the next scene has the good Captain saying goodbye and heading back to the Enterprise where he can save the universe again next week, with a slightly or significantly different view of his frailty, vulnerability, and humanity (mixed with a little Borg DNA).


The dots of this story self-connected for me immediately. The punch line is another reminder that I am what I am because of the things I've done and things that have been done to me. I can crawl into a hole, or I can do my recovery work while still doing my life work. I can stop and wallow in my misfortune, or I can believe in a future of healthy living in spaces where recovering addicts have gone before.


Dare I say that it is indeed still possible for me to live long and prosper?


–JR

 

A soul in tension that's learning to fly

Condition grounded but determined to try

Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies

Tongue-tied & twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I

Above the planet on a wing and a prayer

My grubby halo, a vapor trail in the empty air


–William Shatner, “Learning to Fly"

 


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