What You Think About Rock Bottom

May 4th, 2016

I can’t let Prince go. I still have to write about him. He left a lot behind. The music. The memories. And a lot of unanswered questions. Is it possible that Prince would have not made out a will in his fifty-seven years of life? A man worth at least 300 million dollars who had been married and divorced twice, accumulating an infamous vault of unreleased material that could be exploited in many infinite ways not have a will? A man who worked throughout his career to help local charities throughout the country without publicity not have a will? It doesn’t make sense.


I’ve been thinking about the sad last days of Prince. I’ve heard that last show in Atlanta. The second of two shows. A man and his piano lighting up the room, lighting up the world. A take on “Nothing Compares 2 U” that is so profound the man himself walks away from the piano and leaves the stage because it’s simply too much. He sounds alive, as alive as ever. He doesn’t sound frail or ill. He sounds like Prince, stronger than life. More valuable than gold or diamonds.


The man who graced Atlanta’s Fox Theater for two shows on April 14 did not sound like a man who would be dead within a week. He did not sound like a struggling opioid addict. He sounded like a master of his craft, a showman of the highest caliber.


Prince on painkillers got done more before lunch on than most of us will accomplish in a week stone sober. Isn’t that frightening in a way? Not because of what it says about the common person but because it speaks to what we think of when we think of “rock bottom”. We think of shameless, hopeless wretches who are alone, broken down, in the gutter of life. We think of people who end up on “Intervention.” We don’t think of people who function in some ways better than us.


Once upon a time, I had a roommate who was an alcoholic. I should have known because he drank warm, shitty beer. He bought the cheapest stuff and kept it in the box but wouldn’t put it in the fridge on purpose. But he held down a job, had a social life, kept his bills paid and seemed to be in a far better place than I was. Maybe I’m just too far gone and not representative of the average person. But he was definitely an alcoholic. He did better than me because he met a nice girl and moved to the Pacific Northwest, settled down and got married, and started a family. . . which came apart when his wife kicked him out of the house and divorced him. Because he was an alcoholic.


Thankfully his story ends with him getting himself off the booze and resuming a sober life so he can have time with his children. Maybe it’s me who can’t see it when people have hit rock bottom. Maybe I’m the myopic one here. Do I have a bad idea of rock bottom is?


Gang, I may be at rock bottom and not really know it. But I’m sober. Oh shit.

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