Meth in the heartland: One town’s story


I have written about how methamphetamine transits the globe and how it ultimately finds it way to users in the San Francisco Bay Area. The methamphetamine story is varied and complex. It will take a great deal of elucidation to get a handle on it. Nick Reding’s book, Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town, goes a long way toward doing this for the heartland. Redding does a great job of going back to his roots in the mid-West to describe how methamphetamine has become such a popular and, in many ways, essential drug in rural and small town America. The book is well-researched and contains many personal anecdotes regarding how this drug is affecting the people using the drug, their families and the communities to which they belong.

The book is difficult to put down. I highly recommend reading it. If you are not so inclined or need more reason to invest your time, Kevin Nenstiel, an author and English professor living in Nebraska, has done an excellent synopsis and review of the book. You can find it here.

Gratitude practice: Thanking those who gave us direction

gratitude and life directionEvery once in a while in life it is important to acknowledge the people who we are grateful to. We don’t do this often enough. We get lost in the day-to-day business of living and move on without a thank you to those who have done so much for us.

Who might you have a debt of gratitude to? This can be your parents, siblings, teachers, old friends, co-workers, mentors, therapists or other helpers. These people often go unrecognized; your acknowledgement can be very affirming for both you and them. After all, they have made your life better in some unique way.

Sometimes it is the simplest things that make that person important to you. At other times it is a lifetime of helping behind the scenes.

I have thanked many people over time but, as I have gotten older, I feel compelled to give a more formal thanks to those who have been there for me. It is becoming a practice; I am making a list. It is long and gets longer. I do this with some trepidation since there are people on it who I am no longer in contact with due to a misunderstanding. Or we just drifted apart over the years. How might they respond to my efforts to reach out to them? My apprehension is lessened as time has a way of healing the wounds that separated us.

I only wish that I had the foresight to have done this when I was younger; many of those who did so much for me have gone. I will thank them nonetheless.

My thanks will take the form of a letter, email or video, whichever medium best suits the recipient. This is my gratitude practice right now — letting people know they are important and appreciated for how they have given to me unselfishly. They oftentimes provided a sense of meaning and hope when I was lost or confused.

These people were the guideposts that created my path through life. By thanking them I am put back in touch with those things that have made me who I am.