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Tellers of a New Tale

Alan Cohen

When I go to the local bank I always enjoy seeing a teller named Emily, a delightful retired elementary school teacher with a kind word for everyone. One morning while I was making a deposit at Emily’s window, the shrieking siren of a passing emergency vehicle pierced the bank. “That’s the first one today,” Emily noted. “You count them?” I asked her. “I always say a prayer as they go by,” she answered.


Dream Crusher

Super Star

Would you believe it if I told you that youth want to be inspired and desire to have adults support their quest in finding their life purpose? Might you also believe that many adults have become dream crushers for our youth? Unfortunately, the concept of dream crushers has become an all too familiar conversation I have had with young people.   So why is it that we give power to the dream crushers oftentimes, leaving our own dreams to go by the wayside?

Over the course of a 10 day period last month, I spoke at five schools in the NYS Capital District, a young men’s treatment facility, a NYS Senate Heroin & Opioid Task Force meeting, a SWAT youth event, was interviewed by Dean Hale from Inside Addiction, and was keynote at the Monroe County Got Dreams.  All of these events found me sharing a message of redemption and hope to over 4500 people and once again being reminded that part of the challenge in maintaining a sense of confidence and self-assuredness is fending off an enemy out there that walks amongst many of us; an enemy that can be just as destructive as the negative stories that sometimes fill our minds and darken our vision. This enemy is in the form of dream crushers.


Finding the Meaning and Purpose in Sobriety

“For too long we have been dreaming a dream from which we are now waking up: the dream that if we just improve the socioeconomic situation of people, everything will be okay, people will become happy. The truth is that as the struggle for survival has subsided, the question has emerged: survival for what? Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”

- Viktor E. Frankl, "The Unheard Cry for Meaning"

I had an old sponsor who imparted a great many pearls of wisdom to me during my early, formative years in recovery. One of the gems he shared had to do with my questioning him as to whether or not we alcoholics and addicts are “spiritually” different in some ways from all the other people running around our planet? He explained it to me saying, “We’re really no different at all from ‘the earth people’– except for maybe one little thing: if the earth people fail to learn life’s spiritual lessons they’ll slowly rust out - but if we fail to learn those very same lessons, we flame out in a hurry.” In my newly sober mind, I had images of alcoholics and addicts blasting off like Roman candles, putting on a helluva light show in the night sky and then crashing and burning into some dark and lonely field.  After forty plus years of watching what happens to the women and men coming into recovery around the country, I believe the old man was probably right. Those who find a reason to “live for” stay sober – the ones who don’t – don’t.