Joe C., the Rebellion Dog, the Free Thinker, the mysterious baritone behind the mic, is a long-time advocate and chronicler of secular A.A. His book, Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for a 12 Step Life is a treasury of thought and intellect for the Godless Anonymous.
Principal motivation for my creativity. Some creative people have so much they want to say and they really want to be heard. Inspired by songs that seemed to speak for me—not to me—I am not motivated by what I want to say. I think about what is missing; I try to articulate that. When I was writing songs, I thought what unmet need is there from my music library and then I try to write that song or record. Before I wrote Beyond Belief, I was looking for a secular daily reflection book and couldn’t believe it hadn’t been written. So I mulled it over for a while and wrote it myself.
Being sober is very different than getting sober. My motivation for being sober is purpose, clarity, restraint and discipline—all critical to a purposeful life.
Favorite qualities in a person? My favorite people are empathetic and inquisitive.
What I appreciate most about my friends... My best friends aren’t cheerleaders; they challenge my pet theories and keep me honest. I value candor over flattery.
My main fault. I am damn unrealistic. In a way it’s a helpful quality for an entrepreneur. No one would write a book if they were honest with themselves about how much time and energy it would take. I take on more than I can reasonably accomplish and feel inadequate. It’s a cycle that starts with being unrealistic.
My favorite occupation… I can’t say it’s a pleasure to write but when I’m doing something else, I feel like I should be writing.
My dream of happiness? I think happiness is like being in love; it’s a foolish pursuit. Happiness is best enjoyed when it finds me, unexpectedly, not necessarily deserved. The greatest accomplishment of my evolving maturity is the acceptance of the impermanence of happiness. I’m not entitled to happiness. Being anxious or sad doesn’t need fixing.
My greatest regret: I have suffered from a pervasive core-belief that there will never be enough—not enough time, love or money. It’s just not true. Sometimes there’s only a little but there’s always enough. Feeling a constant lacking ruins the buzz of an otherwise awesome day. I regret being so unsatisfied so unnecessarily.
My proudest moment? There are a few; lots of people say they’d like to write a book or record a CD or run a marathon. I’m not proud that I was inspired to do these but rather, I’m proud about seeing these challenges through, having the commitment and pushing through adversity.
Where I would like to live? I don’t kid myself; I’d be just as restless there as I am here.
Favorite Artist/Painter? Every heard of Cathy Sisler? That’s too bad. We were in a band together at the end of the 1980s. She painted my favorite paintings and she wrote a song that our band performed called, “Rebellion Dogs,” which inspires the name of my publishing company.
I just can’t outgrow the awe and inspiration of Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.
“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because sometimes, you don’t. I’m sorry to say but sadly it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you…And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
I think of writing big things then I think, “Oh, what’s the use? The best have already been bested by the late, great Dr. Seuss.”
My favorite composers/musicians?
I don’t know about now but my first conception of a power greater than myself was…Led Zeppelin.
My drug of (lack of) choice when I was using? Approval—at the heart of sex, psychedelics, drinking, toking and snorting, I was medicating an unquenchable need for your approval.
What I hate most of all. I hate my own intolerance of bigots because that makes me such a hypocrite.
How I want to die?
In perfect health.
My present state of mind? I feel uncomfortably self-indulgent writing about myself right now. You may be surprised how little of this that I do.
Faults for which I have the most indulgence? Hope and optimism.
My favorite motto. That’s a tough one. I have a book of 365 favorite mottos and I still cheated and fit a few extras in there. At this moment in time I give the nod to