They're all snapshots, aspects of it. All the stories I write tell the one story of my life. It's a sad story. I don't mean my life has been sad; far from it. I've been an unusually cheery, optimistic guy throughout. Most of that I can thank booze for, but not all. I was cheery and optimistic before booze and also now after. But now I have a different kind of cheer: a capacity to enjoy the sadness of the world. If I don't enjoy the sadness, I can't enjoy the world, because it is a sad world, saturated with sadness. Pretending otherwise is just, well, sad. And dishonest.
The story of my life has a relatively simple plot, a story arc that all these separate stories fit under. I was born in 1951, and my life was going well until it got derailed by drugs: alcohol and pot. That happened in Kenya, in the mid-60s, when I was an adolescent. My life then took a sad detour. It went underground for more than 50 years until I stopped drinking in 2016, then got all the way clean of drugs at the end of 2019. The story of my life up to then is the story of my escape from alcohol and then addiction.
Life is bleak and empty without it. The life that went underground in the mid-60s finally emerged in 2020, back on track just as the pandemic was beginning. What's interesting about my life is how all the tales from my underground years are about making my way back above ground, back to love, back to the one I really am: my wisdom. My wisdom is love itself. That's what I write about: how with love's help I still made progress with love all through those underground years. Making progress with love is the only thing worth writing about. It's the only thing that gives life meaning.
My wisdom was able to make sure I was awake and free of drugs just in time for the pandemic. Now that I'm back in love's arms, the world is my friend; the world is love. Everything about the world, including the pandemic, is helpful to me. The pandemic forced me to make the radical break from old habits and ways of being that I needed to really accelerate my progress with love. I was forced to give up my crutches and find a new way to walk, with my wisdom's abundant help.
I tell stories to call attention to attention. My story is a story of paying attention. I can't make progress without paying attention, without being silently present. Attention is the greatest secret, and the one I'm least capable of writing about.
It's how an artist makes progress. Art is ennobling. Writing is my only well-developed artistic skill, and writing the story of my life is my work of art, the only work of art I have to give. For the artist, creating art isn't just ennobling; it's essential.
Only I can do the work I have to do to make progress. Just as I am ennobled and soothed by listening to classical music, others may find value in reading my work of art. I can't help anyone else make progress with love. Ennoblement can soothe a person troubled or injured by this awful and wonderful world, the only world there is, and it can inspire someone to make progress with love, to engage the work of self-actualization. But art can't do any of that work for them.