Thursday, September 5, 2013

Coincidence and Metaphor

If you ever enter a rehab program, one thing you will need to pack is your suspension of disbelief because coincidences stack up like firewood pretty quickly. 

One day when I was there, I had to list a few trigger things that might have contributed to my current condition. One of the ones I listed was the death of a friend a while back. Within five minutes, I discovered that the person I was sitting with in a grief group was the person who had been cutting my friend's hair for the last year or so of his life.  On the third day, I learned that one of my roommates was married to my sister's high school math teacher. And just last night, in my outpatient therapy session, my counselor played a cover of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times" to point out a lesson. If you scroll back just three posts in this blog, you'll see I'd already cited it as a favorite thing a few years ago, before I put this blog on hiatus.

But there were dozens of them; my little rehab journal is full of coincidences, and I wondered quite a bit about the nature of them. Were all of these little frissons random? Or had they been happening all along and I was just too drunk to notice? Was my new-founded mental clarity responsible for me seeing the patterns that were working behind the scenes all along?

Another thing I noticed quite quickly while I was there was that the language of rehab is largely built on metaphor. Almost everything they say and do means something more than you think it does. "You have to drive your car all the way to the bank." "You don't get off the donkey until you get to the top of the summit." We stumbled blindly through a rope maze.  We held taut ropes until we were able to "let go" of one end.

 And everything you see takes on meaning that might not even be there. On the final day, I was sitting on the porch watching the sun push up over the heights across the river and I noticed a little bird hopping around in front of me. It had tiny, fluffy useless wings, obviously fallen from some nearby nest. He struggled and struggled to fly but just couldn't do it. I watched him for about twenty minutes, the whole time thinking "no wonder this place costs almost a thousand dollars a day!" I baby birds to hammer home the recovery point on my last day! It was too much to think about.  Do I even need to tell you that by lunchtime the baby bird was flying around just fine? No, I do not. You wouldn't believe me.


Jesse Wiedinmyer said...

I'm pretty sure you made up the donkey at the bank, too.

Kaethe said...

I respect their attention to metaphoric detail. And your amused observation.

Be well.

Kate Maloy said...

I believe all belief systems are metaphor anyway.