Letter to the Editor: Sobriety is showing me how to help others

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Dear Editor:

Yes…this has to happen. Make the call please. I don’t know what else to do”. These were essentially the words I spoke on the morning of January 25th, 2021. My Kamikaze mission into delusional martyrdom needed to be aborted. The lowest and most vulnerable point of my life had been reached. I wasn’t saving the universe from Thanos. My self-medication and destruction were my Thanos. Making that call for help was me snapping my fingers while I wore an Infinity Gauntlet shaped like a vodka bottle, and the stones represented everything else I took, blamed, and carried around; guilt, shame, sadness, anger, and ultimately my exhaustion. I needed to save my universe.

Nine months later, I have chosen to take on new missions. The most important mission is being the best father and co-parent for my Daughter, Lyla, (who coincidentally wrote a very introspective piece for this publication over a year ago). I need to be the best companion to my “Pepper Potts” and my “bonus daughter”.

Okay, Let’s do this. Recovery is in full swing and I’m putting in the work. Adelia (the author’s faithful canine) has been walked on the Rail Trail and fed. What’s next? Anybody up for saving the world and having a jam session? One of the welcome side-effects of sobriety and therapy is clarity. As a weekend warrior, wannabe Rockstar, I can tune out the trash and tune into the music. I can hear all of the notes; the good, bad, and the ugly ones that come out of my guitar and amp. I’m enjoying playing and performing more than I ever have in my life. I believe that music is to be shared and if I can share my music with others, while maybe sneaking in a social cause to help my fellow man, even better. I first picked up a guitar in the mid-eighties as a teenager. This was the era of Live-Aid, Farm-Aid, Amnesty International, and Rock the Vote. I love seeing my fellow music lovers and players who grew up during the same time as I. You can always tell who we are because we are usually the ones putting on the benefit concerts and charity recordings.

Comedian Dan McRitchie (left) with Dave Laffin at a recent Vet2Vet fundraiser.

 I now have found the strength and inspiration to try to give back to so many who were there for me. No matter how deep I was lost in the proverbial sauce, I still remember everyone who attempted interventions, some more subtle than others; whether text messaging through the insanity of the lockdown at three in the morning or the random visits, phone calls, and enormous outpouring of love that seemed to arrive in my mailbox every day for months. I now have to give back and humbly do so. I do the best way I know how as a kid from the ’80s; “a red guitar, three chords, and the truth”.

This summer I read post after post from so many of my former students who served in the military,  how they felt lost, angry, or just alone. I felt compelled to do something for veterans like themselves who deserve so much more for what they decided to do for us. I don’t have a political angle to play out with this, just a responsibility as their former teacher and friend. I have a responsibility to plug in, tune-up, and play, and accept contributions from good people who feel the worth and value of organizations like Vet2Vet, who look to give comfort to our veterans where it is welcomed and in some cases, sadly needed. I decided to give a performance at the Shamrock Association in Poughkeepsie for 11 straight weeks and we have already raised a few thousand dollars! The Shamrock Association gave me a place to play and an incredibly supportive membership while allowing the shows to be open to the public for anyone to come be a part of this run. The Shamrock Association was founded by Veterans of WWII and always looks for ways to ease the lives of those who gave some, while honoring and never forgetting those who gave all.

This Saturday, November 6 at four o’clock, I am doing one final show of this stretch and with the help of some of my fellow musical family members, we will play and jam and sing for you all as a token of our love and appreciation.  The Shamrock is located at 76 Delafield Street in Poughkeepsie.  The public is invited to show up, listen to music, participate in various raffle drawings, make a donation.  All proceeds are going to the MHA Dutchess Vet2Vet program.

After this Saturday, I will be taking a short 24-hour break before my comeback tour pulls into The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie for Foodstock on Saturday, November 13, and hopefully drown out the rumbling stomachs from hunger pain with our guitars, drums, and the beating of loving hearts while stocking up the pantry at Dutchess Outreach. Events like these are how I have chosen to spend my second chance that was given to me by my loved ones, my community, and my world. I won’t squander that second chance and use it to do whatever good I can, whether it be making a contribution, spreading the word of a good cause, or getting my “Johnny Marr” on because in my world, I am Iron Man and wouldn’t be without all the love this world gives me.

Sincerely,

Dave Laffin
Poughkeepsie, NY

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