Art has always been magical to me even as a child. I remember watching my dad paint. I watched the images appear as he sipped his Swiss Colony sauterne. It was like being in an alchemist’s workshop; there was secret and forbidden knowledge. He seemed to be able to go places nobody else did; he stood at the portals of creation.
There was never any doubt in my mind about what I wanted to do and be. Being able to stand at the portals of creation without fear seemed to be the trick. I didn’t realize until much later that he gave that gift to me very early on. The way it looked to me was that alcohol fueled and was necessary to the process. At first it worked beautifully and when drugs entered the equation, I went even further out—right on the razors edge. The Universe was laid out before me. Everything I saw and read reinforced this belief. Look at all the awesome psychedelic art pouring out of the hippies. There were paintings, sculptures, posters, crafts, music, and performance. And look at history—Jackson Pollack, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec, all great artists and drunks. And–the most compelling evidence of all–my own studio full of incredible works of art.
What wasn’t evident at first was the slow steady advance of addiction. It wormed its into everything. I didn’t realize I was in the grip of a demon; a demon I had created. Everyday, the demon wanted his. I thought I was making the decisions but in the end it nearly took everything including the art. It wanted my family, my friends, my self-esteem and my health. When it was all over, when there was nothing left, recovery was the only option. As I began to see that creativity is not in the bottle, it wasn’t in a bag or a pill; I was scared to death. It turned out that the creativity was so strong, it was able to shine through in spite of all the alcohol and drugs.
True creativity is like being God’s pocket. It is the most powerful meditation on earth. The process of recovery and the 12 Steps changed my mind, my attitude and outlook on life. My thinking is my prayer and my actions are my meditation; the result is my life, I am the richest man on earth. Oh, I have money but more importantly I have peace of mind and I sleep at night. I have a life of happy, joyous usefulness. I stand at the portals of creation. I am grateful.
IMAGE: “Healer” by Bill Fifield 2011