Monday, November 16, 2009

Monkey on my back

I just could not get the phrase "monkey on my back" out of my head this week when trying to come up with this week's blog entry.

And for whatever reason, I kept connecting the phrase to my insulin pump. What was writer's inspiration trying to tell me - that my cute little pump that has improved my life by leaps and bounds was actually the monkey on my back?

I don't know about you, but when I'm trying to figure out something deep and meaningful in life - I turn to Google. I entered the phrase 'monkey on my back' in the search box and was a bit confused by the first search result. Steven Tyler of the rock band Aerosmith actually sang about the 'Monkey on my back' on the 1989 album Pump.

Creepy, huh?

In that song, Tyler is referring to his monkey - crack cocaine. Why was writer’s inspiration sending me to a rock band’s song about drug addiction? Although also a drug, insulin is not so similar to crack.

Mind you, I am not comparing insulin dependence to drug addiction. Please bear with me here.

I had to listen to the song, perhaps Steven Tyler would take me up among the clouds, blow me away (no pun intended), and sweep me to divine inspiration.

Yeah, that didn't happen exactly. I can't say I really like the song. It was a bit painful to hear, and I felt no state of euphoria. Aerosmith does tell a story in that song though, which I do find worth sharing with you; here are the lyrics:

"Woah, it's me
But I've been dyin'
Got to get that monkey
Off my back
Fortune teller look into my eyeballs
The wrinkles on her face about to crack
She said, "You best believe it, you ain't goin' nowhere,
Unless you get that monkey off your back"
Well, I make believe the devil made me do it
I was the evil leader of the pack
You best believe I had it all and then I blew it
Feedin' that fuckin' monkey on my back
If you put it in a spoon then I won't do it
Some timbers made my house was just a shack
And then you draw the line
When all your friends are dyin'
You got to get that monkey off your back
Crystal ball is where you chase the dragons
She said now, "Bring me home his head inside a sack"
But now you'll find your crystal balls are draggin'
Got to get that monkey off your back"

What I got from the song: Steven Tyler’s addiction to crack cocaine kept him from truly living. Aerosmith did really well in the 1970s, but drug addiction haunted the band, holding them back from influencing the rock scene, and it would take rehab to become one of the best rock bands of all time.

You can find many stories of people facing their battles and finding insiration out there nowadays. Oprah has a million of them for you. What I found interesting about this particular story though - from 1989 - is that Tyler calls the song 'Monkey on my back' - and not 'Get this monkey off my back'. Tyler clearly wants to stop abusing drugs, but this song is more about awareness. He is aware that the addiction has kept him from living life to his potential. Just read the lyrics again if you don't see it. Tyler looks into the future as he stares into the crystal balls, in other words, the drugs, and he is absolutely aware that he 'ain't goin nowhere' as a drug addict. This song isn't about rehab. It's about the moment when he looks into the drugs, and sees a dark future if he continues on that path.

In that moment, he becomes aware of his monkey, of his pain, and is able to transform his suffering into realizing his potential.

Steven Tyler's lesson became my lesson. Am I aware of the monkey on my back? Is this a lesson in realizing potential? Goshdarnit, my monkey isn't the pump; it's the diabetes.

I wasn't always conscious of my diabetes. I believe I am now on most days, most of the time. But I must confess that I have to become aware of the diabetes every morning when I wake up, and remind myself that it's there, and that there's work to do. I propose that it's much like being a drug addict.

I'm not talking about going with the motions. I've been doing that for over 35 years. I'm talking about awareness that only comes when the mind is clear of clutter. Some call it meditation, others creativity, and others prayer. But when you become aware of whatever dis-ease is holding you back, awakening naturally follows. And potential is realized.

Shock the monkey to life...

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