July 27, 2017

Promises to keep

The journey that brought us to these mountains began more than 10 years ago, on a summer night in June 1994 when I walked into the basement meeting room of a church in Arlington, Virginia, and listened to a group of men and women talk about their addiction to alcohol.

It took 20 years to reach that room – 20 years of refusing to deal with a dependency on a bottle. That first step towards recovery began on on hot night on June 6, 1994. I didn’t drink again but, four months later, I found a replacement addiction by starting a political news web site called Capitol Hill Blue. For the next decade, that web site replaced booze as the dominant force in my life – less destructive, perhaps, to brain cells but just as addictive.

Several times in the past, I tried to walk away, only to come back because the lure of politics – whether as participant or observer – is too strong to resist. But I promised myself and the woman I love that things would change. That promise, broken too many times over the past decade, was, for the most part, kept last year when we sold the condo in Arlington and left the National Capital Region for the last time as residents. I tried, also, at that time to walk away from an addiction called Capitol Hill Blue. It lasted for a while but I returned a little over a month ago and found myself writing about politics with all the anger, vitriol and passion that has – for too many years – driven my blood pressure to record highs and my health to dangerous lows.

No more. Like one drink or one cigarette, a political addict cannot stop with one column about the crimes and misdemeanors of our elected officials. It’s all or nothing and, for someone with a proven past of dependency, it must be nothing.

So I walked away from Capitol Hill Blue for the last time this weekend, shutting the door behind me and promising, one more time, to never look back. I can’t look back. It’s too seductive, too enticing and too damn dangerous. Cold turkey is the only answer.

Ask a Democrat what’s wrong with our society and government and they will point to Republicans. Ask a Republican and the finger naturally gets pointed back at Democrats. They are both wrong. They need to stand, side-by-side, and look in the mirror and admit they, as parts of a corrupt, decaying system called politics, are the problem.

But it is a problem that cannot be solved by constantly blaming the other side for this nation’s ills. It’s not George W. Bush’s fault or Bill Clinton’s fault or even Tom DeLay’s fault. It’s a system that places political allegiance above love of country and political expediency above what’s best for the nation. A political solution is not possible when politics itself is the problem. Until people stop thinking of themselves as Democrats or Republicans or Libertarians and start thinking of themselves as Americans this country will continue its headlong rush into the abyss.

I can’t stop what is happening to this country. Never could. So I refuse to be trampled by the stampede. I came home to rest, reflect, photograph the beauty of nature and write about what’s right with our land, not ponder on its self-destructive addictions. Others can march to a political drumbeat. I chose a different drum, one without party, without partisanship and without anger.

Once more, I stand before a group of friends and strangers and say, “My name is Doug and I’m an addict.” Then I start a long, painful road to recovery. It’s a journey I must complete and one last promise I must keep.

24 Responses to Promises to keep

  1. Thanks for everything Blue has been to so many. It was a great day the first time I stumbled in, and it’s been great stumbling on since then.

    Enjoy your life, your woman and all the great stuff you bring into focus, whether through your cameras or your mind’s eyes.

  2. Have enjoyed your commentary (for the most part) over the last ten years, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy your photography more. It started with finding DC Dark Side…..

  3. Every post reveals more that is good about you and your writing. I am proud to know someone who has drunk deeply of life’s strongest emotions and has willpower enough to step back from the madness before it consumes him.

    Righteous ranting is an expensive indulgence. It is so unbelievably satisfying that it is hard to resist the long slide from intellectual discussion down to irrational sound and fury.

    Welcome back to a world where you delight and entertain us while teaching us your art. You will change more lives for the better by setting a good example than you ever could by argument and rhetoric.

    Well done on finding a way to improve your life while helping others.

  4. Get in the hot tub! I support your decision…I do know what an unsatisfying addiction politics can be. Remember my bumpersticker…”Let the Bush Administration unravel itself. I’d rather be blogging.” Without diverting your energies, your personal writing will take a leap and I’m looking forward to that.

  5. Good luck! While I will miss your eloquent and insightful rants, I understand and respect your decision to move away from it all. It’s an exercise in frustration anyway to rant ad infinitum about things that we have little or no control over. An addiction to hot tubs, quiet country living and quality time with your spouse will be much healthier for your soul and for your relationship. Bon vivre!

  6. Good luck Doug. Ya know…breaks are good.

    Take care, smell flowers, kiss (up to) wonderful women, and see what you want to see in the clouds-not the shapes others describe.

    Adios compadre

  7. The hot tub is just the symbol. But a steep in the right direction.

    Letting go of whatever the addiction is the beginning. Letting go of “letting go” is dicovering the balance.

    I sense an exquisite spirituality in your photography and commentary. CHB sustained you for a while. And now it is time to move on.

    Thank you for the clarity expressed at one time through your anger and now through your life practice.

    Best wishes.

  8. Good Heavens Chief!!! How I envy your ability to do what you did. I have tried over and over to slam the door on my political problems. I even turned off my computer for 2 months but the addiction brought me back. I even tried to get out of CHB but again after reading your Rants I realized I was not alone in my frustrations.

    My very age and long involvement in Republican politics gives me knowledge that we can bring the party back if we can learn what we must put into the legislative part of our government.

    I believe our only hope is to educate our children on all the fabulous things that could be available to them if they had the proper education. It’s in every level of our lives and stems from our political mistakes.

    I’m too old to quit. I’m too old to start a new life away from politics. But, my dear, I envy your strength.

    Sandy

  9. I have enjoyed your writing and your craft with words, I am envious of that talent. I hope you find the peace and tranquility you seek. Thanks for the inspirational rantings.

  10. Doug,

    Even curmudgeons eventually wear themselves down, whether it be physically or emotionally. Health comes first – raising hell takes a distant second place and, within ones lifespan, politics has no beginning and no end so you can climb on and off of that train wreck at your own convenience as life dictates. No harm, no foul, no apologies.

    Stay safe, stay well and my best to Amy.

    Frayed

  11. Doug. I would like to thank you for caring so much about your country, to start such a site as CHB. Your rants have always been on target and thought provoking. I would also like to wish you the best on fighting your devils. Although, I must admit, that I too will miss your expressions of truth. Take care, Doug, and may you find the happiness, joy and comforts that you deserve.

  12. My best wishes to you, Doug. You are right that the system is rotten when political allegience is placed above love of country. And this country is beautiful, and life is short, and you owe it to yourself to savor it free of the rancor of the posturing classes.

    Take good care of yourself. Step lightly and stay free.

    – Kurt

  13. “The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it.”
    —Henry David Thoreau, 1848.

    Thank you, Doug. Since stumbling into your site, I have learned so much about your great country and it’s people; and you have led the way with your rants.

    Now, Enjoy the pond!!!

    Anni

  14. Five yeats ago I discovered the internet and your website, and RR. I left a few years ago with some of the others but find myself back to read up on what’s going on. It’s hard to completely leave. I have enjoyed your rants not always agreeing with you. Your pictures have always made feel better about life in general except for some the more womeny ones and then I think of you as the dirty old man. I read you stories on the Dark Side and hope to read a novel someday when you have time. Hope that you and Amy enjoy your lovely new home. I live in rural Oklahoma on a farm and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thanks for all the memories. I’ll keep checking here for more pictures and of course your blog.

    Linda

  15. Frayed and I had a little gentleman’s bet that you wouldn’t stay away the first time you left RR. I won that bet. Looks like he won it back. This is a bet I really don’t care to win as long as you’re happy — and healthy.

    I like that above post about Bush will unravel on his own… Although I will miss those great rants.

    Now when you posted that you’ve had a dozen flues this year two things came to mind. Drink more water and don’t be up at all odd hours of the night in the middle of winter getting so many perfect shots that you posted here this year. Great shots, but…

    Delawhere