Once upon a time there was this happy little guy, playing the game of life without too much trouble, finding his way the best he could and mostly ending up on top.

But for some strange reason he began to think that everything was too easy for him; nothing that really challenged him. He started thinking it might be more interesting to create a new game . . . one with more obstacles and challenges, a game that would really put him to the test and see what he was made of.

No matter that this new game routinely killed off anyone else who threw their hat in that ring – this incautious rush of succeeding at something in which others routinely fail had the intensity and thrill he craved. So he jumped into the new arena ignoring the sober cautions from others with more experience and maturity.

This new “game” might be generally described as follows:

THE GAME: Trying to become successful as a performing artist, in a fiercely competitive, cut-throat environment, on the world stage as a trumpeter; and to do this with both hands tied behind his back as a consequence of living the life of a “first-rate addict,” at the same time – and all without killing himself (at least not quickly) in the process.

THE RISKS: And just to make it more interesting, one of the penalties of losing in the game – if the “players” in this “game” didn’t actually wake up dead in the gutter some morning – was that they usually ended up with ruined lives, a shadow of their former selves, wounded and weakened to a point where they can’t even hold a secure position on the curb of the sidewalk of life.

And if that weren’t enough, they are relegated to the ever-growing pile of degraded “has-beens” and “throwaways,” living in the gutter, on the sidelines, not suitable to participate in the REAL game of life. They’re used up . . . losers! Left with the dim and fading memories of “how it used to be.”

Now THIS is a contest that has some real challenge right? Something that would truly test ones abilities in a stimulating way, right?

Well, at least our guy thought so . . . and, what’s more, he even “appeared” to be winning the game, at least for a time.

THE TRAP: For it was a strange and unusual game that he had created, one with a very unpleasant, even malevolent twist in it.  The trap in the trapthis nefarious game was this: the deeper you got into this game, the more it “appeared” you were winning – the more you were actually LOSING!  How’s that for some genuine sport; a game with some teeth in it, right?

Sure, many can eventually become able to perform as an artist on the world stage . . . but try doing it while at the same time being strung out on drugs . . . now that’s an obstacle that presents some challenges!  Of course, there is a downside. The rest of his life is in ruins. He has wasted his friends, family, health and career . . . but he’s still winning, right?

THE SECRET: Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. The creative, able guy in our story finally figures out the secret that had eluded many other less fortunate players: the only way to win this “game” was not to play it in the first place.

Employing this realization, he makes some changes and goes happily on with his life mostly avoiding the serious consequences that have killed off so many other players in this game.

Effectively, he won by no longer playing the “game.”

Unfortunately, the fact that he created and played the game in the first place  (with the superficial apparency of winning) influenced others to follow in his footsteps.

And they – not being as creative or as able – weren’t able to figure out the secret of winning this game; they became stuck in the sticky, black tar of a life of drugs, degradation and loss.   But, that really had nothing to do with our guy right . . . or did it?

Eventually, the subject of our story, our happy little guy, began to realize that his actions did have consequences, his words did have meaning, and what he did for good or evil did influence others; a sobering but undeniable truth.  He realized that what he was doing was not just hurting himself, but it was hurting others . . . compounding the harm. It was indeed a painful awareness to come to, but it did open the door for a positive change.

THE AWARENESS: Before any change could occur, he had to come to the awareness that things are getting worse and they need to change – and only he could demand that something be done to bring this about.

Without that awareness, any announced desire to change will fail; for the truth is still camouflaged; carefully guarded underneath the blanket of denial.

Once the truth is faced, the layers of self-denial begin to peal off.  He realized that he didn’t mind hurting himself, but when found that he was hurting others, he detested himself even more.   He then solved that problem by numbing himself by whatever method, creating even more self-loathing – a deadly sequence.

The vicious circle of self-destruction began to unwind only when he gathered the willingness to face it head-on and cease the denial of what he intuitively knew was happening.

It was after all his life, for good or evil. Only when he came to grips with that fact was he able to plant his feet on the long road back to sanity, health and stability.

But, our story has not ended. It only has taken a turn, hopefully for the better at this point. But there are many pitfalls that lie ahead for our guy.

Bad habits die hard; dangerously “toxic friends” are lurking nearby; and the true friends that still remain have been burned too many times to trust him completely at this point. It’s a rough road. But it’s the only road out of the trap. Hopefully, he’s up for the challenge.

Armed with the increase in awareness that he is creating his own life and his own future, at each moment, for better or for worse; his chances for survival have increased; He might just make it after all.

His future will be what he is creating right now.  With the strength of that knowledge, at least he has a fighting chance to make it what he wants.

At least he has a chance of survival, when before, he had nothing.

Stay tuned as the rest of the story develops.

daniel w. jacobs
(c) 2005 – 2020, all rights reserved


This is an email that I wrote to the subject of the story after he reported that he had a relapse whereI took off the wraps and laid it on the line.

Okay, lets cut the bull, shall we?

You’re still alive and there is some possibility that your life is still salvageable. We’re not playing patty-cake here and there is still some faint hope we can make it, but only if we act NOW.

You’re involved in a life or death game with enough traps and pitfalls along the way to challenge you and keep you interested if you’re trying to survive.  Further, I’m not going to lecture you on the “evils of dope” or on how “wrong you are to do it” or how “you’re hurting other people and yourself.”  You are smart enough to give that lecture yourself . . . and very convincingly I’m sure.

You were able to get clean for 30 days back in December, remember?  It wasn’t all that long ago.  The fact that you did this, opened the door for you to be in communication with me about straightening out your life.  You earned that right, and not everyone makes the cut.

In our work together for that week, you came to realize certain things about yourself and how to BEGIN putting your feet on the route back to sanity and stability.  No one said it was a one-shot, instant cure-all.  (You wouldn’t have believed it anyway if anyone had said it was.)  You knew what you were facing when you went back in the “real world” and you said you were up to the task.

No one tried to kid you about what was ahead of you, but from what you’ve said in this email, it appears you were only about 1/2 ready to face it and 1/2 still trying to hide and run away from life.

If only the “drug solution” really did work.  Wouldn’t it be great if all anyone had to do was pop a pill, snort a line or get a hit from some artificial element that would make it all go away and have life become endlessly beautiful?

Ah yes, if only . . .

The harsh truth is that it doesn’t.  It can be a very cruel world no matter how many rose-colored glasses we look at reality though.  We both know that.  So, lets pull back the dark, soggy curtain of delusion and unreality and see what is really going on okay?

This is the real shyte as I see it:

You get straightened out and within 30 days, you’re up to your old habits again. You’re back hanging with the same bullshit “friends” who helped you get onto the never-never land of music, drugs, and “living the life” of pretense, delusion, and disaster.

It’s as if you’re attempting, through some alchemy of specious argument and vacuous logic, to accomplish the elimination of  the reality of the state you’re in. But in my humble opinion, that is like buying a ticket on the “real-life roller-coaster” – in goes down and never really comes back up.

You’ve bought into the message in these lyrics, “you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.”

The person I knew (the “good” you) seems to have taken a hike and gone into hiding, leaving “(the “bad” you ) in charge to drive the train.

Hmmmm . . . sounds like a train-wreck just waiting to happen.

This is a “vicious circle” where the “good” betraying his responsibility, abandoning your job and leaves it to someone (the bad you) with a track record only of unmitigated disaster . What’s up with that anyway?

Yes, I understand that the path is familiar and even somewhat comfortable, sort of like . . . “I think I’ll just take a nap or get stoned, fade out and let this other guy run my life”.

Okay, now let me be VERY CLEAR about something:

I don’t care how many excuses, justifications or explanations you come up with (and I know you’re very creative),  but if you’re looking for an excuse for failing, almost anything will do.

But if you’re looking for a way out of this nightmare, you might want to listen to someone who has been down the road before and knows the way out!

My viewpoint is not complex. It’s simple but not simplistic. It  boils down to only one of two choices:

1) If you’re trying to die, I AM NOT WILLING to help you do this.

2) If you are trying to SURVIVE, then I AM WILLING TO HELP you along this goal.

Finally, if my help is acceptable to you, it will be on these terms.

You must agree to the following:

a) Decide you want to survive.  (this means, STOP killing yourself)

b) Knock off all destructive and counter-survival actions IMMEDIATELY.  (that means stop harming yourself and others, NOW)

c) Get destructive people OUT of your life PERMANENTLY. (note: if you’re terminally depressed, you may just be surrounded by assholes.)

d) Strengthen your connections to people that REALLY want to and are willing to HELP YOU SURVIVE. (Your TRUE friends) Note: “False friends are enablers who end up only digging you in further).

e) Knock of frantically trying to copy, defend, justify or PRETENDING that obviously destructive actions are okay. Note: if you’re in a hole, stop digging).

f) FACE UP to the fact that you need help until you can get back on the path of surviving again.

g) Knock off WASTING your true friends, your talent, your health, your sanity and your real life.

h) Gradually get back to a WORKABLE STRUCTURE of sanity, stability, growth and expansion for yourself and others.

i) Continue until you are on stable ground again, safely away from the edge darkness and degradation.

I AM WILLING TO HELP you along THIS the lines of this path.

But, otherwise, I have to cut you loose and you’re on your own. In this case, I wish you luck, as you will very definitely need it.

You’re the “executive in charge” of your life whether you like it or not . . . there is no one else to ask. The choice of life or death is yours and yours alone.

So, I ask you,  how you want to proceed?



















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