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Oct 9, 2023·edited Nov 5, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

My respect for your sobriety.

Freedom is scary, but worth the price.

Whatever your religion, make friends from a different religion.

Whatever your politics, make friends who differ.

Whatever your favorite book, find someone who hates it.

Find the humanity in all, that you may accept your darkest secret as a much a part of you as your greatest ideals. With the help of the ultimate source of all that is most good, you will then be able to face any fear without the temptation of artificial courage.

May your words be a light unto all your readers.

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Love this advice. Thank you.

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Love those tips! Worth thinking about for anyone...

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Oct 14, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

The Act by Corey Smith is a well written thoughtful piece. - My musings - I was beginning to think I wasn't a good fit after reading 2 other essays. Then I encountered The Act. - Corey, I appreciate this brief glimpse into your journey so far. Gaining writing skill is a long path and learning how to deal with voices from the past is extremely difficult. - I recommend Jon Acuff's light-hearted and helpful book Soundtracks, especially the audio, read by author. - - - In honor of my brother I have decided to become a paid subscriber. Jim lost his battle with alcoholism when he could not separate from the friends and habits that accompanied his drinking. He threatened suicide many time but in the end a brain aneurism took him at age 56. I miss him and I wish he could have learned to go beyond the 6 months he stayed sober. In the name of SW Minnesota regional artist, James Dahl, 1958-2012, I wish you well.

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I've been chewing on your words all morning, trying to conjure something profound to say, but to no avail. In my defense, I have a nasty cold and my head hurts. I am sorry to hear about your brother. Alcoholism is such an insidious beast. I'm happy you continued reading and found this essay. I understand my style of writing isn't for everybody, which is why my work varies is form, structure, etc. I will be sending out short stories, starting this weekend, and I hope you will enjoy those. I think you might. I am very grateful for your support. Thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful and personable comment.

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A very powerful read. I like the Updike quote. A very wise girlfriend once said to me that we're the embodiment of everyone we've every one we've ever met.

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Thank you, Terry. There are parts of it I wish I’d cut, restructured, and so on. But I was determined to post it yesterday, so I didn't give it the fresh eyes it needed. There is a quote by Maya Angelou, which might have stemmed from Robert Browning, that goes something like “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot—it’s all there.” I took this from Goodreads, so it is unreliable. I couldn't find it under either poet in my quotations books.

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One could go on editing and second-guessing ones initial efforts forever. I liked the post because it was raw, unfiltered (it seemed to me). It was great just the way it was.

Even if a poet did not say that, it's still pretty profound IMO.

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Terry, I am grateful for your input. Thank you. What’s weird is I was just reading your recent newsletter, wondering whether I was one of the “cathartic” types you mentioned. I hope not. It certainly wasn't my intention to purge. I don’t plan to make every post personal, either. The day was just right for it, and it collided fittingly with the theme of the self—I think. I like that you called it raw and unfiltered. I should add those adjectives to my welcome page. Thanks again.

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The 'catharsis' mention was more to do with my general disinclination to share very personal stuff, so that if I did so it would be more because I thought it might be helpful for others, eg saying how I managed to deal with it perhaps, not in order to enlist anyone's sympathy. Please don't interpret that as meaning that's what I think YOU'VE done. In fact, I should think some people will find your post helpful, because you've described, basically, how you've pulled yourself up by your bootstraps. Also, your time in the public library seems to have been well spent because you're so well-read. Therefore your post shows others that life's trajectory can be altered. It's not simply a whinge-fest.

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I have a habit of over-sharing. It is something I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. That’s why I was curious. Also, because few people say what they mean—I’m not implying anything here—I constantly seek alternative interpretations of words and body language. And my ego tells me I’m right until proven wrong. Anyway, I value your feedback. Thank you.

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I am absolutely the Queen of oversharing. Nothing behind it - I think much of it comes from the fact that I am a talker. I kept quiet for 20 years of a marriage where I was either made fun of for my opinions, or my comments were food for an argument. Now? I will talk to most anyone. 🤦‍♀️

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Oct 9, 2023·edited Oct 9, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

Extra comment: shocked how many mentioned "blue collar" as if a shameful part of their background.

Challenge to all: If for only one hour, all the blue collar workers disappeared and the next day all the intellectuals with proper white collar employment disappeared, whose return would be most appreciated by the world? Whose absence would be least noticed?

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Oct 22, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

I think we'd all agree on the answer to that. Besides, blue collar doesn't automatically mean low paid, unskillful, and certainly not unintelligent.

Imagine if all the plumbers and freight truck drivers disappeared tomorrow. None of us would last long. Although it might be fun finding out how everyone learns to forage, gather, and make their own toilet paper (albeit, only useful if their plumbing isn't blocked).

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Oct 22, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

For me, blue collar means skilled, and intelligent, because employment relies on results that truly work in the real world. Many white collar policy failures are never labeled failure. Rather than taking the blame, the boss or planner claim it was the blue collar commoners who failed, not their brilliant thinking. After all, don't all those IQ & college placement test prove who is smarter?

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Oct 23, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

Implementation failures are lessons learned, and filed away in the project closure records.

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Awesome thought, Fran! When I first got kicked into the Army, a guy running one of the firing ranges killed time by ranting over the PA system...in a humorous way. He made fun of college, from where I had just served 3 years, and urged us to shout with a loud, clear voice "You college!" "You college person!" And, what I especially loved: "Say it like a swear! COLLEGE!" By now I've come to believe that college, and the suburbs college students come from, are only there to produce bomber pilots, the lawyers for DuPont, The MIT researcher who invented napalm, etc., etc., etc....

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Nov 3, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

“Ther human spirit when healed, nurtured and developed is capable of far more than the mind or sub conscious mind can imagine to ever do”

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Thank you

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Now I see how you got where you are. That Updike quite reminds me we are all performing. What we show and perceive are just mere marks on what is actually happening. This reminds me of how human we are all. All wrestling with the same question - who am I?

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Always changing and always performing. Many disagree with that idea. Most people disagree with my perspective of identity. I think I unintentionally annoyed somebody the other day by expressing my opinion on the matter, not rudely, mind you. Anyway, I appreciate you reading this vintage piece. Perhaps I should elaborate on it, a part 2, since my sixth anniversary is next month.

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Do, please!

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I'm almost finished with part one of a three-part series on the same topics. Should be sent out and posted within the next two hours.

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Dec 11, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

It would be most welcome!

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Oct 22, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

Great read. It was, to be honest, like reading part of my own life as I am going on six years sober, having drank away 10 years. Congrats on how far you’ve come. I always remind myself that the idea of who I am is almost like clay, molded slightly each day by myself and the world around me.

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Congrats on your sober time. I'll hit six years next month. Woohoo. Love your clay metaphor. And thank you for reading, Rikki. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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Hi Corey

I came across your substack account from your subscription request (thank you for supporting my art ). I love sharing my interests with new people through this amazing platform. I deeply enjoyed your essay. You have a talent to make the uncomfortable seem easy. Congratulations on five years of sobriety. Celebrate yourself for choosing acceptance over avoidance. For writing instead of blaming. For turning pain into art. Poetry is medicine isn't it?

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Yes, it is. I think writing is medicine. I'm happy you took the time to read my work. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and kind words.

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You are a crossroads

A confluence

A bubble within a boil of thought

A collage of others and events and stories

An amalgam of place and time and chance

A vertex of the infinite lattice

A witness, a mirror, a turn of the spiral

An antenna amid frequencies abyssal

There is no separation

No exceptional autonomy

No exclusionary destiny

There is no you

Without all else

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author

Deep and wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.

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Nov 8, 2023Liked by Corey Smith

I am trying to figure out how a person who never read became so well read in five years? I would love to motivate my husband and sister to read so they could experience so many other worlds, cultures, view points, etc. I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. In our family it was just my mother and me (the oldest) the younger two and my father never read. My son is an avid reader thank goodness. I want so bad to share so many things with my husband and sister, but telling them just doesn’t equal the experience of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

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I quit watching TV. I read and I write. I won't go anywhere unless I am with my daughter or need groceries. If she is not with me, I am at my desk, always at my desk. I read at my desk because it is easier to take notes and write in the margins. When I fell into literature, I immersed myself in it and didn't look back. I knew what I wanted: words. It's not easy to get others to read, especially not a fifth-grader. But I bet it is even harder to try to get an adult to read. We are more stubborn and set in our ways. Keep trying. Thank you for reading my work and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

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“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;” You know what they say about the truth. If it’s too hot in the kitchen, get out. Would love a part 2.

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When my identity was 'being a young writer,' I claimed to like the Beats. Henry Miller was not a Beat, but I pretended at admiring him, even as I had never really read much of his work.

Now I just write. I wish you well (achieving the fullness of your being, as opposed to acting out identities.)

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Thanks, William.

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CBT does feel like some sort of coercive ape training, but then that's a pretty good description of therapy in general. Self-deception, -care, -awareness, -love, -loathing... We act like they are all separate but the stream of consciousness feels like all of them simultaneously... Enjoying your words they are well put.

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I often wonder where humanity would be without self-deception. Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I appreciate your reading the piece.

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Mar 22Liked by Corey Smith

This is the kind of newsletter I hope to grow to be someday, offers great content, entertainment and passion.

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David, that is a compliment like no other. Thank you.

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I agree!

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I don’t think Updike is correct. I rather prefer Joan Didion’s take...”I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”

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Hmm. I don't think either is right or wrong. Or both are right because neither is wrong. I think one could piggyback on the other. I haven't read Updike’s memoir. I want to. I'm curious how nuanced he gets on the subject. I mean, it is called Self-Consciousness. The title itself makes me think that at least a quarter of the book is digressions, which I like.

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“Wrong” is probably the wrong word. I disagree with the assertion because I don’t think the old selves really disappear. Some need to be wrestled into submission and others continue to pop up, often bringing parts of us back to life.

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I think you and I are mostly on the same page. Though I might change my mind tomorrow. I probably contradicted myself in this essay a few times. I have a difficult time taking a solitary stance on complex topics—or on dinner.

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😂 This is a perfect description of ME!

“I have a difficult time taking a solitary stance on complex topics-or dinner”

I contradict myself quite often .... does that make me wishy washy? I don’t think so. It means I seriously contemplate a topic and may see it through different lenses. Excellent discussion gentlemen!!

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Yes! Exactly. I think this is a good thing. It helps us so we don't latch onto one perspective and disregard everything else on the matter.

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Absolutely Chris - I have found myself latched to the wrong thing a time or two …. ☺️

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What you suffer does not define you.

What you accept or reject from life is not who you are.

Where you are going is not who you will be.

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That first line—I’ve been saying that for years. Words to live by, all of them. I should write those lines on a piece of paper and tape them on the wall near my desk. Thank you, Paul.

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My favorite is the third line, Corey.

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I can't disagree. The subtext is an essay on its own.

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