Facing the Loaded Gun

What does Facing the Loaded Gun mean?  Its aim is to describe what it’s like to stand toe-to-toe with your own mortality, whether it be staring down the loaded barrel of a recent diagnosis of cancer or hitting the bottom with addiction.

Facing the Loaded Gun is about fighting to survive against all odds and adversity.

It’s quite the opposite of a game of Russian roulette where only one bullet chamber out of six is loaded. When you’re Facing the Loaded Gun, five of the six gun chambers are loaded and the chances of survival are bleak – sometimes hinging on a medical miracle, sometimes on the surrender to an addiction.


In poker a “Tell” is serious business:  It’s a detectable change in a player's behavior or demeanor that gives clues to that player's assessment of their hand. I believe that all who have been afflicted by cancer or addiction have a certain kind of “Tell.”  I don’t claim to be clairvoyant, but I can see it in others as easily as I give off mine.  I perceive someone’s “Tell” in their face or eyes, and it’s in this soul projector that I not only see the beauty of their struggle but the multiple layers of adversity they are facing in their personal decision to Face the Loaded Gun.


Confronting a catastrophic illness or taking the road to recovery is at times a painful and beautiful ongoing process. If one is open to the experience, one learns the true spiritual foundation of hope, healing and living. I believe one of the most comforting visions that can be shared with others is taking what’s an abstract picture in the mind, visually capturing and sharing it with others.


As I Face the Loaded Gun with my illness, I want to offer solace to those facing the loneliness of illness and addiction with courage and grace.


~ Richard Stern, July 2007