It’s been since 1997 that I’ve been listening to a band called Dream Theater. I liked several of their early albums but after I checked out Falling into Infinity which was the last album they released by that time I moved to another country, started listening to a lot more aggressive angrier music and forgot about this band. I’ve re-discovered them in 2007 and listened to a couple albums and then forgot about them again somehow. This year I’ve purchased several of their early albums and started listening again. I listen to a lot of music at home, but also in the gym and while I walk. It takes me about 25 minutes to walk to work so I manage to listen to quite some music.
Getting back into Dream Theater was cool and I started to listen to these CDs on the way to work. I noticed that I was getting more patient and focus and relaxed getting to work while I was listening to DT, as opposed to most of the time when I listened to, say, Nile or Enslaved on the walk some other days. With songs about loss, achievement, frustration, addiction, hope, rebellion, and love, I was getting a bit more prepared to face people I work with and for. Having noticed that, I decided to make it a point and start listening to DT each day I go to work. I had about five in my collection by then and so I went with it. By the time I got to the third one, Awake, I decided to go and see how many records the band did by that time and it turned out they has 13 records to that date! So starting July I had quite a bit of an accomplishment waiting for me.
The thing is Dream Theater performs what I’d call progressive hard rock, however many call them progressive metal band. I guess it is a matter of perspective. I won’t argue. The main point is they bring several styles to their music, and being the fans of Rush, Deep Purple, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and ELP, they managed to create their own sound. So definitely being progressive rock band, Dream Theater make music that is multi-layered and has a lot to pay attention to. So I’d say it would take me at least three times to listen to any of their album before I make an opinion about the songs and the album. So there was A LOT of listening to do.
Today is a special day. I’ve listened to the 12th album, Dramatic Turn of Events and watched Live in Luna Park DVD which had all of the Dramatic songs on it, besides the other accomplishments of the band in the previous 25 or so years. There is still one album to listen to, but I am very close. Watching Luna Park, along with Live in Budokan DVD, and listening to the songs from CDs back and forth was a great fun and I think it made me a bit more patient and relaxed in the last couple months.
Besides just writing fun and quite complicated at times music, the band writes really good lyrics. As I wrote earlier the songs are about life and situations people find themselves in. Among those ones the original drummer and one of the main composers of the band, Mike Portnoy, wrote about addiction. Having issues with alcoholism himself, he decided to write a saga about recovery from drinking through the wisdom of the Twelve Steps which he divided into several parts and put one track of the saga on each of the albums from 2002 to 2009, thus having five albums containing the message of recovery. I have found some thoughts and facts on that undertaking of Mr. Portnoy, as well as “the Twelve Step suite” tracks put together in one album, which was never done by Dream Theater or Portnoy (however he always wanted to do it), and instead was done by a dedicated fan.
Here is the saga. I hope you enjoy it too and it will make you feel more patient and get a slightly different perspective on things around you, as I tend to, thanks to this band and people around me.
[the picture was copied from 'ere and twisted by me. thank you!]
I was trying to run away. I was fighting. I was kicking and screaming and biting and clawing. They were trying calm me down and say that it was OK, but hell, I wouldn’t listen. It was too complicated. I couldn’t stop looking around and everything seemed menacing. They had to give me some sedative. Then they checked me all over. Then they came to me and spoke:
“We’ve examined your case very carefully. At the end of our investigation we have some information for you.
Facts first: we found that you are human. That means you are going to react to life in a similar way that other creatures that walk around you on two legs: you will experience sadness, joy, hate, love, frustration, loss, new beginnings, hope, desire for destruction and love. In other words you are not alone – there is plenty of other who deal with this state as well, and the overall majority cope with it quite well. You are going to feel vulnerable, exposed, broken, and disillusioned, just as much as you will feel strengthen, relieved, and cared for.
The bad news is being human cannot be cured. There is nothing we can do.
The good news is you may very well enjoy this state, this journey, and find the development making your existence worthwhile.
We prescribe the following medications to support you on in the immediate future:
“no worrying,” “acceptance,” “letting go,” and “asking for help.” These will keep you connected and not let you fall between the cracks of life that some call very hard. They are well tested, there are no side-effects Smile, eat well, work out, talk, read books, find new things, and keep walking forward.
[the front picture was copied from 'ere. thank you!]
It was a strange week.
First, on Sunday I found that a musician from Greek metal band Astarte that I admired lost her battle with leukemia. News of her been diagnosed was the first ever news of the 2014 and it was sad to learn of that. A couple of their songs that I heard long time ago became ones of my favorite of all time. Guitarist, vocalist, and leader of Astarte, Tristessa was also very beautiful, so it was sad in all ways. I then read she was getting better and surgeries were successful so it was a complete shock to learn she passed away, leaving family behind.
Then two days later my day started with walking the dog and reading paper on the newsstand when I learned Robin Willams killed himself. That was another shock. Not only Williams was a fantastic actor, I knew he had substance abuse issues. I didn’t know he was bi-polar and suffered immensely from his depression states. It was hard to swallow. I watched Jumanji that night, though I felt it was not a good tribute, since it was not a comedy, and yet he played it very well. Dead Poets Society movie was recommended to me by my high school teacher and I think it was his best, in a sense how it related to me. I remember reading of Williams 2006 relapse in the paper and my AA sponsor and I discussing it. It sucks learning this person who as the media claim was so kind and attentive to others couldn’t save the positivity for himself. In his sixties he probably could’ve hoped to have his depression go away at last, but not only that didn’t happen, in addition he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I guess he couldn’t stand the pain anymore. As an addict with depression issues and no stranger to suicidal thoughts, I feel like I lost a friend who I never really knew but nevertheless very much respected and felt for.
Mental health is such a fragile thing. We often had no idea what we’re dealing with and it seems that still the people we entrust with our health history don’t know how to help us. I didn’t know I was an alcoholic for a long time. I only started to learn of alcoholism leading to depression couple last years of drinking. I also thought I had ADHD, but then figured that I was not as miserable as others, and maybe there were other things I could look into to learn about my mental state. And when there are others going through this and I learn about them after they succumb to their death, not being able to make it any other way, it hurts.
Same day my friend of whom I wrote earlier and with whom I regained contact texted me saying he couldn’t come to the Big Book study that night for he dropped a heavy object on his foot at work that day and needs to recover. He came later that day to pick up some ice packs for recovery and that was the last time I saw him.
He is the one I worry about now, since it’s not wise worrying for the dead ones I feel I’ve lost this week. I can’t beat another person’s illness, be it cancer or flu. And I can’t cure a man’s depression or any other mental illness. But can I help someone else some other way? Every time I wouldn’t hear from this friend of mine for longer than 1.5 days, I knew he was drinking. He’d admit it every time after. So this time he was off my radar for 2.5 days and wouldn’t return my messages. Finally, on the third day around 2pm he texted me back explaining nothing, just saying he is going to go and sleep it off. Which threw me off guard: he must have been very busy all night AND all morning.
So I come to realization, yet again, that this is another situation in which I can do nothing. I can’t worry and care for this person. I can just hope and pray. No matter how much wisdom I try to teach him, conventional or not, it is up to him to absorb it and act upon it. I spent all of the Friday night and Saturday morning wondering and texting him, only to lose my own peace of mind and yet there is nothing I can do but let go. When I realize I have no power, the only right thing to do is ask for power, and to me that is to pray.
With that in mind, I think I better bring the remembrance of my powerlessness back into my morning and daily prayers, for I often forget about it. The things I accomplish often make me feel important and special and even though I am those things, I need to remember that besides the things I can change, there are also those that I can’t change or have control over. This friend of mine knows what is out there and that he needs to take action to change his life and that he is not doing it alone. All I can do is let him know he is welcomed to come, that I do have time for him, and that I do not judge. Everything else is beyond my reach. I better accept it and remember it well.