Chapter 1: An Experiment in Choice

DISCLAIMER: has not been approved of, nor endorsed by, and is not affiliated with, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. or any service entity of A.A.W.S., Inc. This website’s currently Featured Project, “FINISHING WHAT BILL WILSON STARTED,” is not AA Conference-Approved Literature; it is non-fiction commentary submitted here for non-commercial single-use, and gives Fair Use citations, for educational purposes, of limited sections of the 2nd Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, 1955, which has been in Public Domain since 1983.

Sponsor’s Note: Any relevant follow-up to the 1939 publication of “Alcoholics Anonymous” should tell an historically important new story with the same pioneering urgency with which Bill Wilson framed the narrative of the alcoholic drinker. Our worthy successor to AA’s Basic Text begins with the dilemma of long-time sober alcoholics (> 10 years) who drink again and experience a different, adaptive alcoholism that emerges in direct response to recovery, and is now immune to it. Among many other things, our new narrative will expose how the “chronic brain disease” model (covered more rigorously in “A Scientist Speaks Out”) actually trivializes the severity of alcoholism, while simultaneously minimizing humanity’s most heroic responses to this mutable beast.


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Chapter 1


      March 11th, 1994.

      It was time to shave. As I reached for a can of Barbasol in the medicine cabinet, the back of my hand brushed up against a 1.7-ounce miniature of Chivas, a gift to my wife and me from the limousine driver at our wedding. He had asked that we save it to toast the birth of our first child, and we kept it in remembrance of his kindness, even though we were both active, sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous and never intended to open it. Over the last five years, I had noticed that little bottle at least a few times a week without a passing consideration. On this particular afternoon—after thirteen years without a drink—I mused to myself: “No way we’re having any kids”; then, “No sense in wasting good Scotch.” With those two thoughts, I cracked the seal on our wedding memento, gulped the contents in two grimaced swallows, and started shaving.        

      Nothing happened for several months: no drinking, no thoughts of drinking—no-thing. The next time I drank was deliberate and calculated. Let me be clear about this. I did not “slip,” “go out,” “pick up,” or any other euphemism that self-identified alcoholics use to blunt the shock when their sobriety unravels. I was neither overwhelmed by a “craving,” nor blindsided by a “trigger,” but instead, carefully considered the possible consequences and decided to drink anyway. It would be comforting in retrospect to identify some tragic life event or devious mental gymnastic that prompted such a brazen experiment in choice. It might even be reassuring to believe that making it unscathed through that first drink months earlier had fostered a confidence that I could survive another attempt. Any reason at all that was amenable to review and correction would have been preferable to the truth: my motivation was simple curiosity, that primary impulse that has driven human beings throughout history to both discovery and destruction. I just wanted to see what would happen.     

      Noticing an absence is usually more difficult than noticing a presence, but one guest was conspicuously missing from my fated reunion with alcohol: the mental obsession for the first drink. That preoccupational urge that had once pushed me back to the bottle—no matter what the consequences—was nowhere to be found. An observable gap had now opened up between the thought of drinking and the act of taking the first drink, a discontinuity that I had never noticed before. Perhaps this elusive gap between willing and doing had always been there, but was too narrow to see, or came and went too quickly to detect. Whatever mechanism was in operation, an interval of variable duration now lingered in which I could consider the extraordinary possibility of choosing to not-drink. Sometimes I drank and sometimes I did not, and there seemed to be no discernable pattern to those choices.

      Taking the first drink, however, did bring on a subtler form of the phenomenon of craving so ably illustrated by the AA aphorism: “One drink is too many; a hundred is not enough.” Once I started to drink, every drop of alcohol in my possession had to be consumed—but no more. Going to the liquor store now meant not only choosing when to drink but also how much to drink. Gone were the closing-time races when my supply dried up before my thirst. Each pre-drinking game plan was inviolate, and after about a year I settled into a comfortable routine of a six-pack of Samuel Adams every time my wife was out of town. If alcoholism is an illness, then this was a different kind of malady, a corruption of choice—and I chose that corruption.

      My first encounter with alcohol began opportunistically. As a gifted child, I succeeded early in life; but as an equally troubled child I failed just as often as I succeeded—and I mean big successes and big failures. My problem was that success brought no pleasure, and failure brought no pain. Discovering a half-gallon of Chivas in my father’s liquor cabinet provided an unambiguous solution: drink enough and you feel good; drink too much and you feel bad. Win, win; at least you feel something. I would quickly master the art and science of extracting the maximum amount of feeling from alcohol—blackout drinking.        

      I loved everything about blackout drinking. I loved the relentless, repeating, reassuring patterns: every morning washed clean of yesterday’s memories; every afternoon suffocating under the weight of the intensified present; every evening abandoned to the inevitability of another tomorrow no different from today. Alcohol, the ultimate Daily Planner. (With apologies to Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird really Sings: it prefers the predictability of confinement to the uncertainty of free flight.) Not surprisingly, my life from adolescence to the age of twenty-five would read like a cliché New York Times best-seller: epic, tragicomic adventures fueled by lawyers, guns, and money. But I slept walked through the melodrama with characteristic disinterest: there were no victims in my world: everyone has a story, and nobody likes a whiner.

      This personal history was clear and present in my mind when I made a conscious decision to spin the relapse roulette wheel and see what color came up. I still cannot be sure whether I expected it to land on red or black, but the ball kept falling out of pocket, and I soon discovered to my dismay that worse than big wins or big losses was the ambiguity of drinking without a clear result. So, just as cavalierly as I decided to start drinking, I decided to stop. Mildly disappointed, I felt that I had wasted my time and learned nothing. The experiment was over.

      As soon as I stopped drinking something inside me shifted. A subtle pressure hovered at the periphery of my mind for several weeks; anonymously, annoyingly. I can best describe it as  somewhere between a migraine in mid-bloom and a forgotten name lingering at the tip of your tongue. When the presence disappeared one day, I started bingeing sporadically and openly. The inevitable departure of my wife opened up a new range of choices, many of which I made in Trenton’s red-light districts. The spectacle of the street pulls you in, the possibility that it could all go horribly wrong at any moment. You suit up, buckle into your one-ton chariot, and mark out a workable web of streets and alleys, each with multiple exits and entrances. You circle the perimeter like a gladiator in a Roman Coliseum; always ready to move in, but patient for the right opening. Your eyes constantly scan the environment; other eyes look back with equal caution. Not that one. Maybe that one. You circle around again to take a better look. Suddenly, instinct decides, and two paths intersect for one moment of contrived intimacy. As you give her the money you think about how every day you sell a piece of yourself to a job you hate and a boss you despise. You look at her life and you look at your life and you wonder which of you is more broken. Home is where your sadness lives.

      When you begin developing unsolicited relationships with the local police, you pull back and corral yourself inside your apartment. There is always an agency ready to deliver to your doorstep any kind of woman you want. When the credit card gets too heavy to carry, you phase out the Korean escorts and phase in fifteen or sixteen Modelos a night, topping them off with a full rotisserie chicken, or a large, deep-dish pizza with extra anchovies. The Smith Machine in your basement gym morphs into a clothes rack. In a few years you will go from a robust 193 pounds to a wheezing 324.

      Nothing to be surprised at here: when denied primary egress, the whack-a-mole of addiction always finds a hole through which to pop up its Lernaean heads. I felt no panic that the genie was out of the bottle and knew that sooner or later everything would be all right. My ex-wife was safe and building a new life with someone else. My sense of equanimity in the face of my own personal turbulence grew organically from a silent witness that lurked just beyond my perceptual radar; a daily companion from childhood that had always watched and recorded the worldly madness without comment or judgment; a stalwart presence unaffected by anything that was happening to me, good or bad. But my almost Ignatian “indifference to all created things” did not remove me from the gravitational pull of creation’s orbits, and amidst the spinning satellites of sex, food, and money, the strongest pull was still coming from the bottle.

      After an opportunistic reconfiguration as lust, gluttony, and slothful extravagance, alcohol reasserted itself as my primary life coach, my clarifier of confusion. To drink, or not to drink; that is the question—for the alcoholic, the only question. It is the taunting genius of any addiction to reduce a human being’s pluripotential to one binary choice.

To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.” (AA, p. 44)

Judging whether anyone can inadvertently surrender their ability to make that choice amounts to answering the fundamental question of human freedom, and freedom, in the final analysis, is what allows us the choose, remember the results of our choices, and then choose again. In our quest to learn, adapt, and evolve, the millennia of philosophical posturing displayed on our sterile  library shelves offers little advantage over  the fertile laboratory contained within a single human life.

      Countless rounds with my binary beast convinced me that something was not quite right, that something had changed since I started drinking again. My confusion was not over making sincere decisions to quit and not following through with them. That was familiar territory. My confusion was over making sincere decisions to drink and then abandoning them at the door of the liquor store. It was as if the person who made the decision to drink or not-drink was not the same person who had to live with that decision. This was uncharted territory, and unable to sustain the desire to quit or the compulsion to continue for any meaningful period of time, I feared the deadly duet would continue with no end in sight. This was not the raging alcoholism I remembered from my youth, so concrete in its hulking brutality; this was a chameleon-like alcoholism—fluid, shapeshifting, mercurial.


      I reached out to the one group of people I thought could appreciate what was happening to me—Alcoholics Anonymous. Here are how a dozen conversations went:

      “Glad to have you back Michael, but were you going to meetings?”


      “Glad to have you back Michael, but were you working the Steps?”


      “Glad to have you back Michael, but were you talking to your sponsor?”


      With each “Yes” answer, their questioning became more aggressive and more accusatory. That is when I began to smell the fear beneath their thinly veiled anger, their absolute horror at the possibility that someone could be working the AA Program to the best of their ability and still get drunk. That is when I understood that they had no better idea what was happening to me than I did. That is when I knew I was alone.

      But I was good at being alone. Personalities can let you down, but principles never will. So, I went back to the source: my hand-bound first Edition Big Book, signed by AA co-founder Dr. Bob, pages falling out, notes scribbled over other notes scribbled in the margins, each paragraph numbered and indexed—my talisman for tough times. I read through the first 164 pages without stopping, more than once, aloud. It certainly was not the content that kept me glued to the text: most of the writing is intellectually dishonest, spiritually naïve, and gratingly parochial. But there is a cadence that comes out when you read it aloud, a rhythm in which you can hear Bill Wilson’s almost evangelical spirit of inquiry as he struggled to reach an understanding of what was happening to him, a new understanding that he would feel compelled to pass on to others.

      That was the AA that I remembered: the struggle to understand, and to pass that understanding on to others. I began to appreciate what it meant to be part of a continuous Oral and Written Tradition that now went back several generations. I began to understand the privilege of being the caretaker of a body of knowledge that has the potential to illuminate and transform lives. My return to drinking in no way relieved me of the responsibility of carrying that Tradition forward, nor did it in any way erase what I had learned in those thirteen years that I was sober. The pioneering times of AA were littered with drunken casualties who, during moments of lucidity, were able to give away to others what they ultimately could not keep for themselves.

“No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.” (AA, p. 84)

      I felt imbedded in a moment of history, imbued with a sense of purpose. Wilson established a template for alcoholics getting sober the first time. Although the first 164 pages of the Big Book mention a few examples of alcoholics who drank after long stretches of sobriety, there were obviously no examples of alcoholics who drank after long stretches of Twelve-Step sobriety. Everyone comes into AA with different stories, but most leave telling the same one. I wondered whether the diverse experience of well-establish AA’s coming back after drinking was similarly whittled down to a monolithic narrative that was acceptable to the group. The only story anyone wanted to hear from me was “I stopped going to meetings. I stopped working the Steps. I stopped talking to my sponsor.” But that’s not how it happened to me, and I began to suspect that’s not how it happened to many others in AA who remained suspiciously silent about the details of their return to drinking.

      Playing to my strength,  I decided to create a historical record of my return to drinking with the same meticulousness and attention to detail that I brought to my professional work. I started to fill the pages of several blank Lab Notebooks that I procured from the Research and Development facility where I worked as a Synthetic Organic Chemist. I wrote when I drank; and I wrote when I did not drink—for five more years. There would be understandable gaps in the daily record, and some entries were transcribed in an obviously drunken scrawl. But most were written in a thoughtful manner, with a rigorous observational logic that I created for the sole purpose of responding to this personal and historical challenge. Burning with Francis Bacon’s divine fire to resolve what is real from what is appearance, I fixed my investigation on paper to get a clearer picture of what was happening to me. And the more I wrote, the clearer my penmanship became.

      An alcoholic putting relapse to paper as a research project might sound preposterous, maybe even insane, but what else was I going to do? —Surrender? —Turn it Over? —Let Go? If I had heard in the rooms of any precedent for AA’s spiritually squirmy evasions working a second time around, I might have tried one. But no template of any kind had been laid down for the unique challenges of a return to drinking after extended Twelve-Step sobriety. And I had no intention of trivializing the immensity of alcoholism by turning it into an illness that could be treated, or a problem that could be solved, or even a sin seeking redemption. I was convinced that there was something here of fundamental importance about alcoholism that could be learned and added to AA’s Oral and Written Tradition, maybe even advance our understanding of what it means to be a human being, what it means to choose. I would not insult my benefactor alcoholism by simply recovering from it. I would not squander the gift of meaningful suffering that had been entrusted to me.

        What admittedly might have begun as fanciful rationalization or misplaced messianic zeal eventually grew into an unshakeable trust in the existence of a hidden knowledge that by its own nature could both illuminate and transform. What else was there for me to hold onto? Whether or not this trust was in itself delusional was of no concern at the time. We sometimes look to a pragmatic myth to survive the Dark Night of the Soul, where intellect is blind and clumsy. It did, however, occur to me that waiting for that flash of liberating insight might just be a perverse re-enactment of the “I’ll quit tomorrow” cliché. But the knowledge that I was looking for was not the self-knowledge that would allow me to drink safely, or even to stop drinking. I could sense that the bar I had set for myself was much higher to reach than that(or perhaps too low to limbo under).

        Although I was consistently being pulled back to that first drink, the attraction appeared weak, almost nonexistent when compared to my previous drinking. How could something so feeble hold me so tightly? The Buddha once said that it does not matter whether you are bound by ropes of straw or chains of gold: bondage is still bondage. I sensed an amorphous pull operating beneath my alcoholism, a black hole of opposing desires that was deeper, subtler, and ultimately more human than any addiction; incapable of being conveniently explained away as a mental obsession or a physical phenomenon of craving. Who was this fragmented, ambivalent me who could not make up his mind whether he wanted to drink or not-drink?

      In Romans 7: 15, St. Paul captured the essence of the divided mind:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

      In the next several verses, he follows fairly conventional theology in pitting good against evil, flesh against spirit, eventually arriving unceremoniously at the “sin that dwells within.” But when St. Augustine (and that piggy-backing malcontent Martin Luther) called upon Christians to “Sin boldly!”, he did more than testify to God’s forgiveness; he called attention to our inability to be anything other than what we are without Grace. This suggested to me a way to bypass that chronic human condition so ably described by St. Paul, that pervasive reversal of intent that becomes so acute in addiction.

      A simple tactic crystallized: Drink boldly! Make no direct effort to stop. I was willing to commit to this peculiar policy without expecting any specific or immediate results. I would not react to any deviation in plan, as there was no plan. Without intentionally moving towards a goal of sobriety or reacting against obstacles on the path towards that goal, the hungry ghost would die of starvation as I drank my way back to sobriety, and because it is impossible to drink yourself sober, ego would have no reason to sabotage something that it would not notice happening right under its watchful eye. Such an indirect approach was not without precedent. In my early years in AA, simple tasks such as making coffee, setting up chairs, cleaning ashtrays, and giving rides to newcomers seemed more important to my sponsor than obsessing about not drinking. While the conscious attention of my ego was being occupied by this beautifully orchestrated case of misdirection—with my sponsor as benevolent puppeteer—the real work of self-healing was being done elsewhere, on a more fundamental level. Grace is part of the mechanism of reality. Sometimes, people have to be tricked into changing.

      This time around, sobriety would also not be something to be pursued directly; sobriety would be the by-product of giving up the pursuit. Very Zen. But in not-doing, I would leave nothing undone. Slowly, day by day, I made small changes in other areas of my life while continuing to drink, minimizing any harm that might come to others from that drinking. I showed more consideration for the people around me—particularly women, eliminating even the whisper of an unhealthy thought or action from my interpersonal repertoire.  I kept the beer; but I gave up the chicken and pizza. I dusted off the Smith Machine and started exercising. In a few years I would go from a wheezing 324 pounds to a svelte 181.

      Darkness will not survive the light. I wanted to create a lifestyle that would choke alcoholism out of existence. Instead of attacking the drinking directly, in a volitional sleight-of-hand I attacked the conditions supporting that drinking. During my first encounter with alcoholism, I knew that I had to stop drinking in order for my life to get better. This time, I knew my life had to get better before I would stop drinking. My Relationship with Alcohol would change only after my Relationship with the World changed.

      But for my Relationship with the World to change, I had to begin feeling my life through the haze of alcohol. For the first time since I started heavy drinking as a teenager, I was forced to pay attention to what alcohol actually did to me, and to grudgingly admit that I had never really experienced my own drinking; in fact, I had never really experienced my own life. How strange that someone who guzzled rivers just to feel anything would have so little awareness of how he actually felt while drinking. For the first time, I allowed myself to taste the alcohol in my mouth, feel it go down my throat, then settle warmly in my stomach. I welcomed the first few minutes of intimate euphoria, honored the groundswell of drunkenness, respected the predictable lurch into oblivion. I was forced to admit and accept that nothing was more deeply personal in its effect than alcohol. To deny that reality would be to deny a part of myself that needs to be acknowledged, a part of me that can never be erased, a part of me that should never be erased. The Michael who wants to drink and the Michael who wants to be sober are always there whether I am drunk or sober, whether I want to drink or not—and they both have the same goal: to be “Michael.”                     


      I continued to clean house. As my Relationship with the World changed, my Relationship with Alcohol began to change.I could begin to see how oblivious I was to the volitional movements underpinning my drinking. With a little practice I was able to watch a barely discernible mental pull towards the first drink arise, abide, and then subside under its own momentum. Curiously, that faint impulse was not directly aimed at the drink, but at a more general desire that seemed to hover around the drink. Detached from the object of observation, I was able to see that attenuated mental obsession as clearly as I could see the sun appear in the morning, hover overhead at midday, and finally disappear at night. Tracking in this manner, I found myself able to drink when I wanted to drink, and not-drink when I didn’t want to drink. Saints Paul and Augustine would have been proud.

      After taking the first drink, I was able to watch the phenomenon of craving arise, abide, and then subside in a similar manner—as long as I did not identify with that craving as being “mine.”  Detached from the observer, I could clearly distinguish between a cascading physical reaction to a series of drinks, and the attending mental states that proliferated through that series of drinks. Body and Mind seemed to drink independently, at different velocities, and with varying resistances to the impulse to continue drinking. By logically interweaving Prayer, Self-Examination, and Meditation, I learned to combine physical and mental momenta into a single volitional movement that responded more consistently to how much I drank once I started. I no longer had to consume all the alcohol in my possession and was often surprised the next day to see how much I left in the refrigerator.

The perceptual changes that allowed me to directly see the momentum of my choices as it unfolded in the mental obsession and the phenomenon of craving happened gradually over a year or two. But I still limped through my life one day at a time, not really wanting to drink, not really wanting to stop. Suspended between insipid worlds of wanting and not-wanting with no end in sight, was I getting better or getting worse? The possibility that this holding pattern was to be the rest of my life I found infinitely more horrifying than the prospect of jails, institutions, or death. I needed to go deeper.

      Bottles were only as symbol, we had to stop fighting anyone or anything.” (AA, p. 103)

      I gradually came to understand that my fight wasn’t with anyone; my fight wasn’t with anything; my fight wasn’t even with alcohol; my fight was with me, with the fight itself. When I tried to give up alcohol because it had made my life unmanageable—whether that be through raging blackouts or grinding monotony—a part of me always reserved the right to drink again. There is no such thing as no reservations.The popular image of the addict as driven blindly by an uncontrollable urge to continue is only one half of the story: the addict in full bloom is also driven blindly by an uncontrollable urge to stop. Both rule simultaneously with equal power, and they can drive an addiction indefinitely. Any direct or indirect attempt to escape the cycle of wanting and not-wanting is still part of the cycle. If your life revolves around not-drinking, then your life still revolves around alcohol.

      In watching the mental obsession and phenomenon of craving assemble and disperse under their own momentum, I felt like I was watching a magician’s trick. I knew it was a trick; I just didn’t know how it was being done.     I got a peek behind the volitional curtain when I began to understand how non-drinking thoughts can hang at the periphery of one’s mind for weeks, months, even years before seeking each other out to coalesce into a drinking thought. A sensation on the back of the hand as it reaches for a can of Barbasol, the kindness of a limousine driver, a wife’s broken agreement about not having children, a Father’s fondness for Chivas—scattered perceptions and memories aggregating behind the scenes, gathering momentum until they burst forth with Cobra-like rapidity. It appears that the mental blank spot is not blank, but alternatingly slow & deliberate, then quick & capricious, hiding in plain sight among thoughts that often have nothing to do with drinking.

      The consequences of taking that first drink do not “crowd into the mind to deter us” (AA, p. 24) because memories are not battering rams that compete with each other for supremacy in our mind; except, of course, in Wilson’s Big Book world of powerlessness, where the mental blank spot never takes its proper place as a completely different phenomenon from either the phenomenon of craving or the mental obsession. If I was powerless over anything it wasn’t alcohol, it was over the fluid, shapeshifting, mercurial mental states that bubble up from that insatiable black hole of opposing desires.

      It takes time to develop ideas that work. Certain perceptions and memories are always there, lurking in the background, waiting to assert themselves at the most opportune moment.  On November 24th, 2000, I penned the following idea:

“I am looking for my addiction, but I cannot find it…that is, I see that when I am watching my mental obsession and phenomenon of craving, I lose track of wanting to drink and not-wanting to drink, and the mental blank spot appears. When I pay attention to the mental blank spot, I lose track of wanting and not-wanting, and the mental obsession and phenomenon of craving appear. My addiction has a mind of its own, and apparently, I am not involved.”

     From this metaphysical mumbling I extracted a simple strategy: track the momentum of choice as it unfolds through my thoughts and watch as the mental obsession, phenomenon of craving, and mental blank spot are all constructed from the ground up. I would go back to the very source of Self and end this charade, once and for all. I tossed my Relapse Research Notebook as a possible distraction, and I watched when I wanted to drink; and I watched when I did not want to drink—and I watched when I neither wanted nor not-wanted to drink. I paid attention to the arising, abiding, and subsiding of both the mental obsession and the phenomenon of craving. Then I shifted focus and paid attention to the inattention that allowed the mental blank spot to self-generate, unnoticed and unhindered. I pulled back the veils of alcoholism’s three brilliant disguises and gazed into that primordial moment of consciousness when I first see the world and I see myself in it, when I first wonder what’s out there and who’s in here—Michael broken down to his existential bones.

      I first survive that bewilderment of origin by dividing the world into manageable compartments—into what gives pleasure and what gives pain; into the good and the bad, the joyful and the sad. But in dividing the world into manageable compartments, I inadvertently divide myself in half—into the Michael who feels pain and the Michael who feels pleasure; into the good and bad Michael, the joyful the sad Michael; and eventually into the Michael who wants and the Michael who does not want. It is my intermittent attention to this deadly duet of that allows the mental obsession, the phenomenon of craving, and the mental blank spot to reconfigure my perceptions and memories into the phenomenon that we label “addiction.” And that long, anonymous trip back and forth between the chaos of consciousness to the corruption of addiction takes place in a blink of an I.

      And taking this trip for myself was all that was needed. The holding pattern was broken. “The problem has been removed. It no longer exists for us.” (AA, p. 85) No ego deflation; no spiritual experience; no recovery—no-thing. Just a clear-eyed recognition of who I was and who I was not without acceptance or rejection of either. The silent witness had vanquished wanting and not-wanting to their respective corners and declared a congenial draw. The illuminating, transforming knowledge that I had always trusted in had revealed itself:  my alcoholism does not separate me from humanity; instead, my chronic humanity—acutely experienced as addiction—allows me to finally close the gap between knowing what to do and being able to do it.

       I had made choices in my life, but I had never chosen my life. My alcoholism was a crash course in choosing a life. Decisions to stop drinking can be reversed. I did after thirteen years. But when one sees through the intricate web of lies by which the accepted or rejected Self weaves an addiction, one can never see them as the truth again. The magician’s trick no longer holds interest; you are the wizard behind your own curtain. Walk away from fight before it begins: when there is no fight, there is nothing to surrender; when you are not holding on, there is nothing to let go; when you realize that your will and your life were never your own, there is nothing to turn over. If the fight never starts in the Self, then it never ends up in the bottle.

And with that, my experiment in choice was concluded.

December 1, 2001.



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