But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight —
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight
Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”
If you had asked me on one of those first floundering days in detox what my overall goal was, I would have answered something along the lines of “To not die in a terrifying fashion”. I would have said this with sweat dripping down my face, limbs still flailing and vibrating like a marionette in a wind tunnel, and a soul crushed under the weight of its own hurt. What would be at the opposite spectrum end answer would be “To seek a quiet space within to have commune with the Creator and be of service to others”. Actually, if I had said those very words during my DT’s, they would have upped the meds and added straps to my menu of misery.
Lo and behold, that is precisely what I seek several months into my third year here. Weird just to think it…to think that the drink was just a symbol of what was really going on between the ears and throughout the spirit. Drink was never the problem. Never. Drink was just drink. Alcohol. A colorless volatile flammable liquid. Inert. C2H5OH. it’s what I did with it that caused me certain consternation. And hell. Hilarity certainly did not ensue when imbibing booze. It was my solution to what was going on in the inner landscape. Nonetheless, I just wanted the train wreck to finally come to an end. And it did. Not in a pretty way, but it stopped and it’s been a blessed affair thus far. There have been hills and dales, no doubt. Some rough spots – the type of turbulence that behooves the pilot to flash the seatbelt sign on. Also some glowing still scenes that begged to be captured in strokes of paint or pen. A journey, in other words.
We are all on our own journeys.
The great and secret show of my journey is that I never know what, or who, gets put in my path. I get front row seating to this rock opera extraordinaire and marvel in the majesty of what is played out before me. I am not the lead, per se, but I am on stage too. And there I am – in tempo with the tunes, but not conducting. The fullness of sound and light and vibration, both dim and dauntingly dramatic, reach me and pull me to and fro. I am a vibrating string, arpeggiating throughout this performance and my whole job in this is to make sure that I am in tune. That’s it. Stay in tune and I will be able to stay in harmony with the quarter notes and pauses, the trills and the contra basso two-steps, the prestissimo gallops and lente sways. Just be the instrument. I am the faucet, not the water. Stay clear and open to receive what is needed to flow.
As part of these adjustments, I sometimes take heed to what calls from within. Intuition, conscious contact, name it what you will – that voice which sits in the back of the room and whispers what is needed. It sometimes gets audibly clogged by the noise and chatter of Earthly thoughts and Ego driven drivel, but it’s always there. Always scanning the heart and seeing what it needs, because the heart always knows what it needs. We can cloud it with fear, doubt and anger. We can cloak it in resentment, pride and gluttony. But it’s always there for us. We just have to listen closely. And that is what I have been doing lately, and it’s taken me to new places and it’s shone the light into dark corners.
In the last few months, I noticed that I wasn’t in tune to my voice, to the Conductor. I marshalled my efforts into things that competed with the Creator in being my Higher Power. Not full on bait and switch material, but certainly on the gentle fringes of mutiny aboard the HMS Groovy Funkmobile. I found myself drifting away from what centered me, and found myself questioning everything, started seeking joy from the external, began excavating validation from sources not The Source. A shout out to the seven deadly sins here, because those things started to become a feeble war cry. And I don’t do well in war. Too hard on the haunches and it makes my skin break out. I found myself drifting asea when the life preserver was still in my hand. I just needed to listen to what my heart was desperately trying to tell me.
So I took a break. From a few things. Picked up some new things to tackle. Eased up on things that normally brought me ease and comfort in the past but were no longer doing so any further. I shored up my program, asked to be re-released from the bondage of myself, and became a bit of a spiritual spelunker. It’s just a beginning, really. I mean, this is just me getting my ass off of rested laurels and getting Kung-Fu hustling. It’s me tuning the string and finding the frequency that once again plucks to the place that permeates through my skin and soul. It’s me continuing to seek that what is within me, and through me and meant for me…by Him, for Him. And in that vibration, there is harmony. And harmony is what I know is the true goal here. Not drinking was the ultimate goal for me at first. And not drinking still holds as crucial to me as it ever has. I have one drink and this whole orchestra splinters into splinters. But the not drinking now brings me (and countless others before and after me) to a place of learning to live in concert with the Universe and others around me.
I have had many experiences in this time of reflection and pause. I have had internal conditions dissipate. I have found myself seeing with different eyes. I have found myself in a deeper conversation with that which has kept me sober. I am not talking epiphanies or white light experiences. Far from it. On the outside, thing are a touch different, yes, but you won’t find me climbing a mountain to meet the hermit guru or sitting cross legged, humming an inch off the surface of a koi pond or speaking in archaic and holy tongues. I still take the garbage out on Wednesdays, still listen to The Smiths and I still certainly annoy the hell out of myself and some others. But the way I have found myself approaching things has transformed me in small and subtle ways. I don’t battle so much now – externally and internally. I don’t struggle as much to what which I know is what I need to do as opposed to what I want to do. I don’t play small, and I don’t play the fool so much any more. I play the part assigned to me in this concerto.
I am a bit more active now, physically. I am not scrolling on my phone half the day. I am not worried about what to write about here on the blog. I am not attached to some of the things I used to be attached to. My relationship to food is different. Priorities have shifted. Balance is more a rule than an exception. I am not in conflict so much with my self. I am what I am and that’s a groovy thing. I cease fighting it any more. I am not doing the comparing game very much these days either. And much of this was from just listening to the voice from within. compelled from the inner urgings of my spirit, I took the actions I needed to take to lift the weights of ego and pride off my chippy shoulder. It’s like putting the winter clothes into the basement after a blustery season.
As I write this, I am not sure how much of this translates to some. Maybe this is a bit cryptic, a bit vague, a little too navel-gazey. And that’s fine. I understand. For the newcomer who is still a few days removed from the last drink, this stuff isn’t important right now. If I read this kind of thing when I was just getting my equilibrium back and convalescing in those early days, I would have glossed over it. Airy Fairy stuff. I was more concerned about not putting a fifth of vodka down my throat again, than deciphering spiritual clues and listening to one’s soul and it’s desires in connection with the Creator. And who the hell is the Creator anyway? I don’t need Him or anything else to get sober, yeah? Everyone has their own journey, and for many, there is no spirituality involved in that journey. That’s fine too. Whatever it is that keeps the booze away and keeps one healthy and happy. That’s the name of the game here.
I don’t have all the answers. I never will. I can only turn the Rubik’s Cube one way or another, hoping to just get one colour solid, let alone solve the entire thing. And even if I did, I would be tossed an even harder cube to try and sort out. I’ve learned that it’s not in the solving, but in the turning. Sometimes I don’t mean to turn it one way and all of a sudden, a flush face of blue stares at me. Done. How did that happen? Who knows, but I know I have to be doing something to get something. Staring at the damn thing won’t do a lick of difference. That’s the difference between stone cold sobriety and being in recovery. Doing. Action. Changing things. Moving forward. Staying in tune. Exploring. Seeking. Observing. Listening to the Conductor of the Strings. Respecting the body. The mind. The soul. And that often means doing things that are uncomfortable. Like getting out of my comfort zone. And creating a new space to grow further.
These days I feel tethered to my own self, the self that I am meant to be, the one that was created to be. It’s the one thing I fought in myself all those years, and used alcohol as the main weapon. I feared not what I wouldn’t become, but what I would become. I didn’t like the idea of shining through, and opted to slug through, eyes in the dark and hands in the muck. The more I drank, the further I distanced myself from the true me. The false me held sway and the Creator was blocked out. I suffered for that. It’s not like that today, and I have to keep my feet moving, my eyes locked on the horizon, my heart and mind in the present.
You, my friends out here, are an inspiration in many ways…ways I can’t verbalize in the moment. There is a sense of awe as I read your words and take in your messages. Whether you are struggling or are swan diving over Spiritual Lake, I hear you. I see the awards you guys get, I see the rewards from within, I see how everyone connects and supports and clutch to one another in solidarity over own on enemies – ourselves. I see people transform out here, have felt it in me, and absorb the well wishes everyone bestows upon one another. I hear the rattling of empty bottles and shaky tears as some of us are still plagued by the harsh reality of alcoholism. I hear it all. I hear you.
You are all part of this orchestra. In tune, out of tune, tightening the valves, twisting the strings, wetting the double reeds…it’s all about moving forward and just playing from the heart. I have seen this in my journey. It continues today. It will continue tomorrow. I will be out of tune at times, but that’s ok. I will always adjust. My fingers may get swollen, my hair grayer, my skin saggier…but I will always adjust.