The Bobby Rock Newsletter #76 (9-17-22) - Another Year in the Clear: Celebrating 46 Years of Sobriety
The Bobby Rock Newsletter #76 (9-17-22) - Another Year in the Clear: Celebrating 46 Years of Sobriety
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Hey Gang -
Welcome back for another round. I appreciate you guys supporting this weekly Newsletter with the most valuable commodity on earth: your time!
I’m working at the desk this morning at home in LA, and I can’t help but notice a compelling coincidence: as I celebrated another year of sobriety this past week, this Newsletter issue happens to be #76… the year I got sober—September 14, 1976, to be exact—46 years ago. Trippy, right? More on that in a moment, plus a couple other tidbits. Let’s go!
In this Issue:
- What Was the First Record of Your Collection? I just ran across mine this week, in its original vinyl form. Let me "show and tell" you about it…
- 46 Years Sober - Personally speaking, my sobriety has been my superpower. Without it, I’m sure I would’ve checked out of here many moons ago. Here’s a quick reflection on my experience of the "Lucid Life.”
- A Word From the Buddha on detaching from that which doesn’t serve us… a concept that is as alive for me today as it was 46 years ago.
In the Beginning:
The First Record of my Collection
I am a sentimental and nostalgic ol’ fool. I remember seeing the first record that ever captured my attention about this whole "rock-and-roll thing" (Alice Cooper, Killer), and I remember hearing the record that a neighborhood drummer (Cole Newbury) was playing along to when I decided to become a drummer (Black Sabbath, Volume IV). But just yesterday, another poignant wave of sentiment surged high as I was digging through some old vinyl, and I laid eyes on the very first record of my collection: Alice Cooper, School’s Out:
To the best I can recall, it would’ve been 1973, and I would’ve paid around $5.00 for it, brand new from Disc Records at the Northwest Mall in Houston. (That $5.00 would’ve represented a full week’s allowance, by the way!) I would’ve cranked it on my folk's big-ass Magnavox-style record console—or perhaps my sister’s stereo—and been enthralled with the entire record from top to bottom. And even though Killer was the LP that had initially stoked my interest in Alice, I believe it was the AM radio popularity of this album’s title track that would’ve likely sent me over the edge in favor of School’s Out.
Cracking that bitch open yesterday and seeing the old-school green Warner Brothers label, and all of the cool liner notes and pics… damn! It was nearly 50 years ago, but it still felt raw and fresh to revisit it all.
And it is precisely that feeling, I believe, that causes me to gravitate towards all of this nostalgic shit from my past. I think I’m “trigger happy”—I find happiness in things that trigger those feelings of excitement and exhilaration, as I first experienced them: from the comfort of that blank canvas of possibility, growing up in a cocoon of middle-America, middle-class life, far removed from the realities of an industry that is both highly-complex and formidable.
Questions: Can you remember your first record? What format was it in? (8-track, vinyl, cassette, or CD?) Do you still own the original copy?
PS. It’s interesting to note that, here again, while it was Volume IV that initially got me into Sabbath, Paranoid was actually the second record I ever bought… once I raised another $5.00!
Another Year in the Clear:
Celebrating 46 Years of Sobriety
For some reason, 46 is not a particularly sexy number when it comes to anniversaries. And while I typically like to mention the date on social, this year, I did not. Not sure why. Didn’t seem as “newsworthy” when compared to last year’s 45th, or my big 4-0 from six years ago (as both of those dates got their own blog article).
But as the weekend approached, I thought, no: It is worthy of acknowledgment every year that I can stay the course. After all, this is something important to my journey, and although many won’t relate to this exact aspiration, perhaps 1) there might be interest in the roots of my decision to sober up and, 2) there is a universal benefit in detaching from any addictive tendency that might prevent us from our self-actualization. And so… here we are.
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Here’s a snippet from last year's 45th Anniversary blog article (links to follow):
When I sobered up at the Palmer Drug Abuse Program (PDAP) in Houston way back in 1976, I was super young, so I’ve always joked that my “stoner résumé” probably wasn’t very impressive: lotsa weed, Schlitz Tall Boys, cheap, fruity wine, and regular gulps of bourbon and coke. And yet, I am still acutely aware—every day—of my ever-present inner-addict… that part of me, all these years later, that can’t seem to live in moderation about anything.
From a family vacation, summer of ’77,
just before my big one-year sobriety anniversary.
Would’ve been 14 here. That’s mom and dad,
with my sister, Pam, at the far right.
Five years ago, I commemorated my 40-year anniversary with an extensive blog post about my sobriety journey. A few weeks later, I was invited to speak to a group of youngsters at a PDAP meeting in San Antonio. It was a great night, filled with lots of nostalgia and good vibes. I was able to talk a bit about my story, my experience getting sober in the program, and how I had managed to stay clean in the music business all of these years.
At some point during the evening, someone asked how many years of sobriety I had when I was finally able to “defeat“ the inner-addict. I told him that if you are someone who truly has that “addict gene,” the inner-addict will always be a part of you, at your core, and you can therefore never defeat him. BUT… you can employ him. (My inner-addict actually has a name: Mr. More, AKA “The Negotiator,” because he’s always trying to convince me to do “more” of something!)
I went on to explain that, for every disadvantage one might have in dealing with their addictive tendencies for the rest of their life, there was one distinct advantage that we have: IF you can consistently redirect that compulsive energy into something constructive, you will be able to channel an unparalleled amount of drive, resolve, and work ethic towards it, thus giving you an advantage—by my estimations—over “mere mortals” without this addict gene.
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Here’s an excerpt from the more extensive 40-Year Anniversary blog article that details my entire sobriety journey:
Making a Case for the Lucid Life
A couple years later... with close to three years of sobriety...
and more hair than will fit in the frame!
...speaking from the perspective of my personal journey – being sober has been the single most critical game-changer for me. Why? Because without the distraction of partying through the years, I have naturally focused all of my turbo-charged addictive-personality energy into more positive pursuits: serious amounts of practice, weight-training and running, a healthy diet, lots of reading, and other activities that have played a key role in my personal evolution. I just don’t know how you can effectively engage in a lot of these kind of things while getting blitzed all the time… especially in the meditation/self-reflection realm.
On that note, I guess I would have to mention this idea that, indeed, “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.” It is, quite literally, your most valuable asset. So why would we want to fry all of those brain cells and jumble up all of those precious neural connections? I mean, if we watched someone at a dojo or boxing gym regularly spar without headgear, and observed them taking blow after blow to the head, we would wonder what the fuck their problem was. Why are you taking all of those senseless shots to the head in training? Protect yourself, idiot! And yet, to some degree, this is what we are doing with long-term use of drugs and alcohol.
The same could be said for the body. Man, I’ve led a life of serious physical exertion. The training, the touring, the toils of road living… often on minimal sleep and whacked traveling conditions. Again, I don’t see how this happens when you’re ingesting a lot of toxins.
The Ecstasy of Agony; the Sweetness of “Super-Clarity”
I’ve also observed that many people tend to reach for weed, alcohol, or drugs when they’re nervous or uptight about something. But to me, that adrenaline surge, elevated heart rate, or even the sense that you are about to “shit yourself” from fear, is what makes us feel alive. I say, embrace it! Live it. Breathe deeply through it. Feel the heart pound, the mouth go dry, the sweat bead up on your forehead, the natural chemicals rush through your bloodstream. It’s okay. It’s part of life. Why try and cover that shit up with chemicals?
And finally, perhaps the main upside to the sober life that I would tell someone who asked me is this: I love being lucid at all times. I prefer to experience all aspects of life through a sharp, clear filter of perception. I like recalling events of the past through this same crystal-clear filter, and with a memory that has remained scary-sharp and ultra-detailed as a result of my clean living. It’s just my preference.
A couple pics of articles about my sobriety journey, through the years:
Big-time Houston newspaper…
not sure how/why they fucked-up the spelling of my first name!
I understand that a case can be made for blurring that filter with drugs and alcohol and enjoying the party train of nightly indulgences, especially when touring with a rock band. I get it. And I’ve also noticed how the public loves to read about such exploits in so many of the various rock and roll memoirs out there. But to me, touring with a rock band is when you would NOT want to blur that filter. It has often been like a three-ring circus out there on tour: the things you see, the experiences you have, the people you meet… it’s like no other lifestyle imaginable. So to me, I want to remember all of those things, recall all of those people, and assimilate all of that life experience in as clear and accurate a way as I can. And I don’t believe you can do that when the ol’ filter is tainted with drugs and/or alcohol.
Just my take on things…
I know my journey might appear to be unusual, but really, I’ve just lived the “excessive musician’s” story arc in an unusual order. Most successful musicians manage to carve out a decent career for themselves, but then wind up going into rehab at some point. I went into rehab first, and then wound up carving out a decent career.
Wouldn’t have had things any other way…
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Catch the Original 40-Year Anniversary Post, Zero Dark Forty, right here:
Catch the Original 45-Year Anniversary Post, Living With Mr. More, right here:
Which leads us to...
A Quick Word from the Buddha on Addiction (Attachment)
I don’t officially consider myself a Buddhist, per se, but many philosophies of Buddhism have been running through the core of how I try to live for well over three decades now.
Addiction is essentially a powerful expression of attachment, and attachment to anything is something the Buddhist practitioner will always be mindful about either radically minimizing or avoiding outright. In fact (paraphrasing a bit here), the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism (there are four) says that suffering is caused by attachment and cravings to things that are impermanent and/or harmful to us. This, of course, covers much of what we all regularly consume in our modern world! But for me, in my journey, I feel that the continued use of drugs and alcohol in any capacity would've sent me down a path I would've never returned from, and this is sad. In fact, it’s one of the saddest things I continue to observe in the journey of others who have passed on early for this reason: so much potential, genius, and beauty in a life that was short-sheeted due to addiction. Damn… it’s hard to witness.
But for me, I refuse to let that be the reason for my demise. And so, every year that I can stay the course of complete abstinence, is another year that I have a shot at "playing the game” the best I can... i.e., self-actualization. This is important to me.
Thank you for indulging me today...
Thanks again, everybody. Connect next week!
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