Monday, April 20, 2015


Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is.
(A Course in Miracles)

You probably don't know Caroline Knapp; I have never met her myself, but I did read her two addiction stories, "Alcohol - A Love Story" and "Appetites - What Women Want". I feel an eery connection to her even though she passed away a while now. She was a writer, and a terrific one at that. We went to the same school and she lived in many of the same New England cities and towns as I did. Both of us spent a considerable amount of our writing career on the so-called dark side, and while I can't say that my demons have taken me on quite such a tour de force as she had to go through, I nevertheless feel that I understand many of the pressures she experienced.

Peace is something Caroline Knapp rarely experienced. There always seemed to be a demon in the background that chased her. Whether she was born a melancholic soul or simply caved under the heaviness of her parent's struggles that she seemed to be so sensitive to, I can't tell. Yet what a guilt trip she must have been on. She succumbed to alcoholism just like her father did and and died from the same disease as both her parents, cancer. I have no idea why she couldn't find peace and I doubt that I would have had any advice for her, had our paths ever crossed. Reading both her books, it becomes clear that she understood exactly what was going on inside her. Did she not have enough will-power to stand stand up to her demon? Or was the emptiness she felt inside simply too overpowering? 

Anorexia is a yin disease, it is inward-bound. Caroline wanted to punish herself for the tensions she felt at home so she sometimes literally starved herself into nothingness. My demon is outward bound; it is yang energy: it wants to expand, wants to conquer, wants to show off. The underlying restlessness, emptiness, or ego that drives us, however, is the same. Women and men simply express this force differently. What unites everyone though, is the desire to drink this dark feeling simply away. I actually don't drink myself much given that too often I have experienced how one big glass of wine turned into two which then opened flood gates I'd rather like to keep closed. I am not sure that I have more will-power than Caroline had; probably just less emotional turbulence that wants to come to the surface.

So can we in fact ever reach peace? Did Caroline perhaps find it when she saw her books gain fame, or when she married the love of her life shortly before she died? I would venture to say that everybody who starts a spiritual path looks for peace. The Course in Miracles sums it up well. Peace is the sudden realization that everything you ever looked for you already have. Darkness vanishes as you open the window that floods the basement of your soul with light. Never accuse the history, the tensions or the demons that want to pop to the surface. That only adds to the pressure cooker. Define your mission, work on it and let life heal you from your pain. Everything else is just an escape. May peace be with you!

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