Morning

pathos or profundity

Tonight at the treatment center, three of us serve on the panel. We are speaking about our past experiences as active alcoholics and addicts – and how we live clean and sober today. We each talk for fifteen to twenty-five minutes.

After we’re done, it’s time for questions. A man speaks up and asks us: “So even after all this time [clean and sober], you still think you need a [recovery] meeting every day?”

I have heard this more than once. As years of sobriety pile up, people are less likely to understand why Recovery would be so important. I remember this querulous old fella C.; at eightysomething he had about thirty years’ sobriety and he was as fiercely passionate as anyone I’ve heard on the subject. He said at the end of sharing in a meeting, “You know the longer you are sober, sometimes people ask. ‘You still gotta go to those meetings? You gotta hang out with those drunks?’ Well let me tell you. I have the perfect response to that. The perfect response. Want to hear it?”

He sets knotty fists on the table and juts his head out: “Maybe I like hanging out with those assholes more than you!”

I’m thinking of C. and smiling, while my two colleagues answer. One says, Yes, she knows she needs to go even after all these years sober. The other man, says he’s not willing to risk it. To risk forgetting and going back to drinking again.

It’s my turn. I lean forward and look right at the man who asked. He’s probably mid-twenties. Native. Lots of tattoos. He’s wearing some kind of restraint ankle bracelet on his leg. I don’t know him or where he’s come from – not yet, at least. I’ve met about five thousand addicts and alcoholics alone just through my treatment center work – not even counting recovery meetings in my community. But they are not throwaway lives to me, not ever.

To this young man I say, now, “I want to be here. I have a life today. I have a husband at home cooking a wonderful dinner. I have a tailoring project I’m working on that I am loving. I have two wonderful children waiting for me. We just got two new kittens [pause for effect because – HOW AWESOME!]. I have a life today. I have a marriage, and a home, and a family. But I want to be here. I want to be here with you.” I look right at him because I see him and it’s just me and him.

I want to be there/here. I have seen the scrap of life inside every human being, the god-consciousness that makes each person unique and holy and beautiful. Seeing this, being able to touch it, it’s a gift beyond measure and one money can’t buy – but one that, for reasons mysterious to me, many fake. I asked one of my mentors tonight, why, why do I get this thing when so many don’t. He says, “I think you’ve very blessed, my dear.”

Nights like tonight I feel very alive… very somber. Laughter and gravitas at the same time. Somehow.

It is, on balance, a wonderful, truly amazing, life.

Morning

 

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