Well...I actually went to rehab...five years ago at the Pride Institute. Those of us that went to Pride and met each other there, often refer to it as our extended time at the spa. If only I had spent that five months getting facials, seaweed wraps, and Swedish massages by a man named Thor.
Instead I spent five months up to my ears in therapy, the 12 steps, meetings, relapse prevention classes, self reflection, and, I believe, I filled about five journals with thoughts, feelings, emotions, rants, raves, and poetry.
Anyone that claims to be a poet and insists that he or she is completely well adjusted, has never had a problem with any sort of mind altering substances, and/or comes from a functional family...is either lying or is an alien and should be reported to the Men in Black. Poetry is the way that marginally crazy people that have seen a little or a lot of the beauty in the ugliness of this world share what they have seen, felt, or experienced...in this waking world or in some other altered or dream reality. Poets go places that other people can't go or wouldn't survive if they went there.
The earliest recorded literature that still exists are epic poems. The stories of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, The Odyssey and The Illiad, fantastic tales written by folks...some of whom that didn't survive too well past publication of their works, yet live on, despite their personal struggles, in the beauty they left behind.
When I was at Pride, a friend of mine was graduating from the program, and I decided to write him a poem to express to him what his friendship meant and how he had touched my life during our time together. That one poem turned into a tradition during my stay at Pride. Soon, folks that were graduating were asking me if I would write a poem for them. Some of these people were folks that I can say with an almost 100% certainty had never voluntarily read a collection of poetry, gone to a reading, or could name more than five working, living poets. Yet, these same people saw something in poetry and something in poetry woke up something in them that made them want to be a part of it.
I am currently doing 9 hours of classes a week in what basically amounts to rehab refresher courses. There are people in the group sessions that have been sober for 13 years and there are folks that were using two days ago. Some are straight up kids, 18 years old, and just in or just dropped out of college. Some, like me, are professionals trying to keep ahead of their addictions, and others are grandmothers and grandfathers trying to make sure they are around to see their grandchildren grow up. Some people walk in that are obviously people of means and others are obviously working poor.
I see poetry in all of these people.
These rooms are filled with folks that come in with their pain, fear, anger hurt, joy, triumph, hope, inspiration, sadness, ambivalence, and frustration. Some have stories that make my struggles seem downright easy, and others have stories that are milder than my own, but each person, it is obvious, is in pain and that pain is real without needing to or being measured in severity against an other's. Some folks have managed to get on my damn nerves straight from the gate, but, I can say with all honesty, I love these people for the poetry in them. They are living, truly living, because they are struggling against their circumstances in a fight to LIVE differently.
In this city of millions, I watch people coast through life every day. I watch living automatons moving about their day, oblivious or sedated to the point of oblivion. I watch them do the same things, in the same way, each and every day. Rich or poor they have accepted what they have, without examination, or having examined where they are and what they have, they have chosen to make peace with stasis or at least have chosen the route of apathy.
I want to live, I want to grow, and when I leave this world, whenever that may be, I want to look back on it and say that I struggled against what needed to be overcome, accepted all the love that was freely offered, and returned love freely to those that needed it.
And so I write poetry, because it is the way that I love myself, love the people around me, and love the world. Openly, as honestly as I can at the moment when writing, and wishing only that someone, somewhere finds something in the words I write to help them live a poetic life of their own.