There’s got to be a morning after.

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The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was a cheesy disaster flick about a capsized luxury liner and the efforts of survivors to escape hell, upside down.

In 1973, Maureen McGovern’s performance of “The Morning After” (also known as The Song from the Poseidon Adventure) was a hit and spent two weeks at number one.

This morning’s lesson: When disaster strikes, escape is the first priority. Only after safety is assured can one look back and suffer the hangover’s full effect.

My personal hero and favored dissident Václav Havel understood this dynamic. Two full decades elapsed from the thwarted hopes of the Prague Spring through the Velvet Revolution’s ultimate dismantling of a failed regime.

Havel wrote, “There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.”

In the throes of my hangover, I return to Havel for solace.

He was the most infuriating of politicians, yet the most beguiling. It was hard to get a straight answer from a man who in the middle of a sentence about the evils of communism would change the subject to the lyrics of John Lennon or ask about the meaning of life — and seem genuinely interested in an answer. And how many in the political world could admit simply that (in the act of) exercising power ‘I appear more and more like an asshole.’ Unlike most others, Havel could fall back on his original career to explain the futility of many political lives.

How wonderful by comparison to be a writer. You write something in a couple of weeks and it is here for the ages. What will remain when the presidents and prime ministers are gone? Some references to them in textbooks, most likely inaccurate.

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