By Charles E. Smith
is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help people addicted
to explaining everything. My name is Charlie. I started it.
It began in 1997 a few months after I retired. I woke one morning and said to myself:
now have no work, no place to go, no future source of earned income,
no people telling other people about me. The phone doesn’t ring and too
many of my e-mails are ads. I diet until 6 o’clock and then eat like a
pig. I go to the health club, work out and lose no weight. I have lists
full of grand schemes swarming over my desk, but the truth is that
almost nothing is actually going on. My big accomplishment of the day
so far was to take a shower. I don’t have the energy to take all of my
pills, so I only take those that are supposed to keep me from dying. A
lot of people don’t like me. My relationships with my brother, mother
and my brother’s kids are unpleasant. I feel like there is something
wrong with me. I’m depressed. I don’t trust myself to act on my
intentions. I am in a ‘make money’ trap and need to get outside, to
stop working for money, or I don’t know what. I don’t want to talk to
anyone because I will depress them, and me even more. I am 59 years old
and wandering around looking for my life purpose. As Gary Larsen said,
‘Before Robin Hood found his true destiny, he would rob from the rich
and give to the porcupines.’ That’s me. I’ve lost my grip. I have no
power over this."
went into my office and looked out at the mountain. It struck me that
dogs don’t explain anything. Maybe that’s why they seem so happy.
have to go to the post office to pick up a package. That’s what life is
about today. The day is no longer about anything else. Maybe I should
play with my kids or go for a walk but I can’t because I have to go to
the post office to pick up a package. The explanation has magically
become the context for everything else that happens. It seems innocent,
except that I have so many explanations that my box is full and nothing
is possible. There is no me anymore. There is only post office, car
wash, business plan, clients and weather. Today, like many others, I
watch the Weather Channel and am dictated by Barbie Doll expectations
of rain or not.
My mother won’t travel because she is too
tired. She doesn’t see her kids and grandkids and great grandkids
because she is too tired. Her explanation for not travelling keeps her
from the life she could otherwise have.
At my company, no one
ever felt affirmed because sales targets were so high we never reached
them. We always disappointed bosses and financial analysts and each
other. We were depressed and had no joy at work because we were
constantly explaining why we failed. Even what I just said is an
explanation and I’ll own up to it at my next Ex Anon meeting.
More next month…