“And when the going gets tough
When we look in the mirror and we want to give up
Sometimes we don’t even think we’ll try
Sometimes we cry “
Van Morrison, “Sometimes We Cry,” from The Healing Game, 1997
This song was around when I was in the heart of my last rodeo with crack cocaine. I had gotten sick and then gotten well and as a result thought I was bulletproof. I found my way to an island in the gulf, met a “girl.” We drank a little, drank a lot, laughed some and went off together that night. It seemed like we were destined to leave our mutually shared life sorrows behind and find our way to a better place. We went on like that for a while and before I knew it I had found my way back to the lost highway of my drug-laced writing and my addiction. We did not stand a piper’s chance in hell of getting out of our delusional alliance alive, and together, with our dreams intact. Crack cocaine does not support kindness for the good times gone by. Late one April night I found myself on my knees in the drifting smoke of another hopeless journey in search of peace, love and silence. The grey uncertain morning was coming hard, the light was unforgiving, indifferent. That lost highway of mine had had its way with me. I was done, the ride was over. In those moments there are no hallelujahs, burning bushes; there is just the creaking silence of another broke down o’l beast, slouching its way towards a lost grace before the end of things shows up and closes heaven’s gate.
These days I am many years clean and sober. But on days like today, grey and cold with a hard rain blowing flat from the north, there is no escaping the sense memories of those days. I can remember her laughter and the sunrise over the bay, I can remember thinking that I would get out of the hell I was in and we would walk forever on the beaches of our island in the gulf. We would watch the eagles soar on ancient thermals, and we believed that the rocks in the tide held the secrets of our dreams. It didn’t work out that way. On days like today, I will find a sad melancholy movie or tv show to watch, in which someone dies or someone’s dreams come true, I will get way too involved and sometimes I cry.
And then the sun comes up the next morning or the rain keeps blowing’ in and I get back to what I do to be who I am. I have no choice but to leave what is done behind and make the best of what is here for me to do. And like I used to do in the middle of long runs, suddenly, inexplicably to me, sometimes I cry.
Photographs by Michael Lebowitz. All rights reserved.