It is a line in a song. Tragically beautiful and true.
Oklahoma Smokeshow. Zach Bryan. In case you are wondering.
And it is so true that when I heard the lyric the first time, it smacked me hard in the spirit. That place that exists just below the solar plexus. The gut level that gets all wonky when I get hit with some spiritual truth, most of the time that I am actively trying to avoid feeling.
The song is about a young girl, in a small town, who has potential...but her trauma is picking someone who is all wrong for her that is likely, both figuratively and literally, going to kill her. Whether that death is metaphysical or perhaps, he will actually kill her in a drunken rage.
There appears in the song, to be another choice. Another boy that might treat her better. But she is not going to pick that one. And then there is the hint that she could say “no thanks” to all the boys, and pick her. Not let her issues with men control her destiny...
Her vice of needing to be wanted and having that vice cause her to pick men that will treat her badly is going to kill whatever other dreams she might have. Maybe even the simple idea that she might go on living.
Mostly I can relate to this song. I have allowed small vices to kill my big dreams so often, it is clique in my life.
But there is this relentless part of me, this part that refuses, absolutely refuses to allow those small vices to actually kill those bigger dreams in the end. I used to think that this was one of the most dysfunctional parts of me. Now I know it to be my salvation.
I have a lot of vices. All of the deadly sins are frequent visitors in my house, in my soul. But there is this protective, loving force that seems to come out of nowhere and save me, from myself and all my needs to vice myself into non-existence.
I have been that Oklahoma Smokeshow. But I had tools that perhaps this girl never had. I have had therapy, parents who loved me, a life that allowed me to live not in a tiny town with no hope of ever getting out. I have had resources, money, education and most importantly, the love of a God that I do not understand and frequently let down.
And, perhaps most of all, I have this indomitable spirit. It swells in my chest and takes flight. Always lifting me higher and higher. It will not let me sink. Like ever. Even when I want to or seem absolutely committed to smoking myself out.
I was upset last night and took a long drive out in the desert. I was amazed at how miles of nothingness can make me feel better. So much sand and sky. So much tiny life bearing particles that I cannot see or even fathom really. And yet, they exist whether I can see or feel them or not.
And this is kind of how I feel about God. I am being led towards a higher evolution whether I can see it or not. We are all spiritual beings, trying to wrest satisfaction in this world by managing well. Dressing up the exterior while we allow the interiority of ourselves to rot and decay with neglect. Our spiritual and emotional natures, left to founder and wane.
Funny how small vices never stay small for long...
I tried smoking one night and bought a carton the next day.
I tried drinking and then became a bottomless pit of desire for drink
I felt the rush of sexual pleasure then tried to recreate that feeling over and over again to my own demise.
I did all of the above until they all conspired to take my life.
Only then could I alter the course.
There have been many ways that I engage small vices to become much larger than anticipated. And I know, with heartbreaking clarity, those bigger dreams that died on the vine of my addictions.
And I am there again, I suppose. Another small vice killing an even bigger dream. It isn’t anyone’s fault. Just me doing what I do again.
And one more time, God is there to save me from myself.
What I know of vice and dreams is that without some higher law, some speck of Divinity, I am fucked ever single time.
I am the Oklahoma Smokeshow with only two bad choices that will kill all the dreams until there is nothing left to live for. Taking that one asset that I think I have and peddling it until it no longer has meaning or value, even to me.
I have so wanted to be able to feel love and safety at the same time. And maybe, one day I will. For now, I am content with the understanding that all the seemingly small vices can do nothing but rob me of those bigger dreams. And right now I hate that so much. I so want it to be different.
But it never is.
To achieve those bigger dreams you have to stay accountable to yourself, and, well, God. You have to see the errors, the traumatic responses, all the ways that you sell yourself out for less and call it more. You have to be content with being more than an Oklahoma Smokeshow...
And God knows, sometimes, if you work really hard at being honest with yourself, you will see that sometimes you can only stop being the smokeshow if you are willing to ignite fully and let yourself burn...
Like a rising sun on a desert plain...the warmth of the day spreading through you like a life wildfire...those small vices can be set aside, a path ignited for those bigger dreams. It takes heart and it takes courage but mostly, it takes you getting out of your own fucking way.