Tuning, Turning, Tethering…And At Last, Breath.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

40 responses to “Tuning, Turning, Tethering…And At Last, Breath.

    • Hi josie – glad to be “back” as well. Nice to take a bit of a break, but certainly did miss y’all. I have to admit to allowing a “few” blogs to sneak into my phone now and then. So I kept a quiet eye on miracle and a handful of others 🙂 It’s been good to regain my footing. Just gotta keep on eye on the ground in front of me. Glad to see your beaming face here, and on the running path there!

      Paul

    • Thank you Sherry – it’s nice to be around my peeps here. And exciting to see how much has changed in short time…and it’s been wonderful reading about your Whole 30 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

  1. Paul,

    this is wonderful.
    I literally just got off the hone with a friend in recovery, and we were having THIS discussion….how things change as we move forward, how just not drinking doesn’t work anymore, how action and forward movement is key, how connection with our HP as we understand them is imperative, and that is how we get out daily reprieve.
    I loved the rubik’s cube metaphor…I was never good at those, but every once in a while, by surprise, i would have solved a corner of it. My sobriety has been like that too…but it’s not enough at a certain point. I know I am always advising people to “ride the waves” of sobriety, go with the ebbs and flows, but at some point it becomes clear that there is more…more than that here for us.
    I want it all….and am beginning to understand that the “any lengths” I would go to to not drink need to translate into going to any lengths to be a better person, have a richer life, be of service and connect with my inner voice and self.

    Anyway, thanks for this..love it.

    • “I want it all….and am beginning to understand that the “any lengths” I would go to to not drink need to translate into going to any lengths to be a better person, have a richer life, be of service and connect with my inner voice and self.”

      This. Yes! I wish I had your economy of words…would have saved me a few thousand of my own words to say the same thing…ha ha.

      I couldn’t agree more with what you said…and like you said, sometimes it’s not enough, to just be enough. The expression “Good is the enemy of great” comes to mind here reading what you wrote…and I have to remember that. I want a kick-ass sobriety, not just a good enough or pleasant.

      Thank you for this – wonderful comments.

      Love and light,
      Paul

  2. Paul.

    Wow.

    This post pretty much sums up what I’ve been feeling like: something is coming, things are changing, and I’m not sure how to deal but I’m dealing. I’ve been feeling very on the cusp lately.

    It’s so weird to be…..me. Like me without booze, or the safety nets of old me. This post shows me that you understand just what that is like. Now that I don’t drink I am digging up the other behavior patterns that work and don’t work, what I will and won’t stand for, and places where I might need to just sit in the middle and enjoy the view from the fence.

    Thank you for this. I’m glad to see you posting again. I value your input. 🙂

    • You know, Amy, reading your posts sometimes puts me back just not too far ago. It’s like we’re on similar wavelengths and I can see a lot of parallel things going on for you that have either just gone on for me or are ongoing for me. And that is great to know that we are not alone in this. Like you say, it’s about the old safety nets. We change what we can, let go of the things we can’t. Simple, but not always easy, yeah?

      Glad to see you too…always look forward to reading your words…there and here 🙂

      Paul

  3. So good. This was just what I needed today. After the past, crazy week, I’m finding that I also have to readjust again now. Turn again to my Higher Power and get out of myself. One thing really struck me: doing things that are uncomfortable. What’s more salient for me right now is doing things I’m afraid to do. And I am going to get stagnant if I don’t DO them, if I don’t get into action, like you said.
    Playing music from the heart. You’re inspiring me. I might go pull out my guitar here in a few and strum for awhile. Doing that is transcendent… gets me out of my head.
    I’m so grateful for you and others in my online recovery community. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart. This is one of my favorite posts from you because it hums with genuineness. I see you in it.

    • So glad you stopped by – yes, I have seen this turbulent week unfold in your powerful posts. But you seem to have a resiliency and insight that comes from deep and from your HP. And that is what we do in our journeys – lean on others and the Creator to renew ourselves and find strength and comfort. And to break out of old patterns. It’s not an easy endeavor. But we do it and grow…and I see you and I growing here. All of us are.

      Strum along…music gets into our soul and changes our tempo…

      Blessings,
      Paul

  4. I’m new to this journey, day 7. And people like you, blogs like yours are keeping me going. I love your words. “Opted to slug though, eyes in the dark, hands in the muck”. That was me. Thank you for this, and for all your posts. You are helping me to understand and to become new.

    • Congrats on Day 8 (today). I have just started to look at your blog. Welcome to this journey. I see that you have already seen some difference in your life – spending more time with your children, laughing, etc. Can you imagine how much better it gets from here on in? It’s greater than you can imagine. But there will be potholes in the road. We all had them, and still have them now. That’s life…and it’s how we react to those things that brings us to a greater sense of serenity and balance and centeredness.

      It’s a blessing having you here, and part of our community here. I look forward to learning from your journey 🙂

      Paul

  5. “We are afraid of our own magnificence” someone once said. It can a hard truth to own up to when that is what is looking back at you from your mirror, especially when the voices hold more sway than the heart…welcome back, may your heart continue to hold sway friend. Respect REDdog

    • REDdog…always a breath of fresh air, and glad to see I am not the only one who took a few weeks off. We all have the things in our life that need our attention – externally , internally or both. You are magnificent in many ways, and I see it more and more the more I read your words in your corner of the world. I am glad you’re back too, and I look forward to reading more from you. You’re a wonderful person.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  6. I LUV those words “Groovy Funkmobile”…..You never cease to AMAZE & WOW me in Recovery Paul….What true feelings written from your SOUL. I’m so BLESSED each and every time I visit your blog & Recovery Journey. You mean so much to so many of us little guys out here trying to reach and struggle day to day ODAAT.

    I do have to say, you have found your Groove and Niche in this thing called LIFE & Recovery. I do recall those days of Detox myself…..and what’s Scary is that I went through some of the same symptoms from Addicted Compulsive Gambling. It’s because even though we didn’t Drink or Smoke, pop pills, or shoot up, our body & brain Chemicals are so screwed up when we first start treatment, that we to get the shakes, sweats, nausea, depressions, sick to our stomach and more. It actually freaked me out! That I could do that TO MYSELF.

    Many people don’t understand that side of addicted gambling. Thanks for sharing your heart always with your recovery friends Paul!

    Hugs & Blessings your way, *Catherine* xoxo

    • Thank you Catherine – you are a true shining light (I think I say something along the lines every time you comment here…ha ha) What I *didn’t* know (but am not surprised) is how non-chemical addicts can have those same physical symptoms when removed from their addiction choice. I learned something today. I never even thought of that. Wow. But in the end, it IS chemical – our own brains change the wiring and when that wiring gets yanked – poof! It manifests physically. Again…wow. Thank you for this.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  7. Wow! That was so beautifully written! You genuinely seem like you are at peace with yourself, and man, that is priceless! Glad to see you back on here writing and sharing all that with us, too. I love the analogy of the play the orchestra – not the lead, but an important part all the same. That is one of my favorite metaphors for life – God’s Big Story that He is telling…I’m not the lead – He is. I’m not the author – He is. But I do have a part to play. A significant one. And that is so life-giving to know God has done that for us! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Kate – thank you so much for this. You’re one of the few regular “normies” (sorry, we have a name for y’all…lol) who comments here, and you have shown me that it’s not just about the addiction…it’s about being a better person. I love the idea of God’s Big Story…and that fits perfectly with how I see it. He is the Author, we the grateful and loving characters. Who comes up next on the page is none of my business, and I don’t know what is coming up…but I can always get guidance from Him and conduct myself according to His will. I don’t get it right a lot, but I do my best and learn. I turn the page, fresh, every day, and hope to get it better.

      Thank YOU for the inspiration!

      Love and light,
      Paul

  8. Paul, I know you say you might sound esoteric, but the crux of what you’re saying is also as down-to-earth as it gets: “I know I have to be doing something to get something.” And sometimes the doing is paying attention, looking to see what’s working and what else there is to do and then trying that out. The spiritual is there in the world, in the doing. I don’t understand quite how that works but I’m trying. Thanks as always for your thoughtful words of wisdom. I’m glad you’re back and doing well.

    • Thank you…I am happy that you are here…and also posting yourself. I am also trying to understand it all…that is part of the journey, yes? If I knew it all, I wouldn’t have any problems…ha ha. And we certainly had our BIG problem in which all problems flowed to and from. For me it’s about observation, surrender, and then action. It’s a cycle, and I am always in one of those. Sometimes overlapping in different parts of my life. I am glad you understood what I was saying…I certainly wouldn’t have if I were newly sober!!

      Thanks again for the fantastic comments.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  9. Paul – so good to hear from you again. I’ve missed you. I am peeling back the layers and trying to find my authentic self. I haven’t really seen myself whole since I was..hmmm… 15? Yikes.

    • Keep peeling…that’s what I do on a regular basis…ha ha. I am about the same as you – been forever since I saw my authentic self. Might have been at birth, but didn’t remember that. I was closest to the Creator then…newly minted. lol. But it’s about coming home now for us, isn’t it? I get closer….

      Thank you for being on the path as well…and for being a part of my recovery 🙂

      Love and light,
      Paul

  10. I really like this. I can hear the change in your words. It’s like learning to become the waterfall – no fear, just moving and letting yourself be moved into something peaceful, yet powerful and ultimately beautiful.

  11. I think this sounds really great and really healthy and lovely and brave. Good on you. I do think it is especially important (particularly those of us active online) to step away from technology and look at what is right in front of us. Slow down.. appreciate the little things.. it’s cliched but so true and so important for self care. I love that you are so aware of this. Bless you! xxxx

    • Thanks Mrs D! You’re right, that it sounds cliched, but it works. Self care is something I was never very good at, or thought it was for *other* people, that I didn’t deserve it, etc. So perhaps this act alone is self-love? I see that.

      Love the comments…and congrats again on your graduation!

      Paul

  12. I connected with many of your thoughts on this one, Paul. Balance is key! Shift of personal priorities to gain balance and serenity has brought me much peace. I have also stopped my idle hands from scrolling endlessly on the internet and phone. Dime things are just more important. Your Rubik’s cube reference and explanation was spot on and really hit home. Thanks for another eye opener and thought provoking insight into the sober life.

    • I am really happy to see you here, G2BG, and that you also connected on what I was putting down here. It’s been hard for the idea of balance to get into practical work. I find that sometimes I get caught in a rut, or I am too lazy to change things, or just trudge without any other thought. Getting balance takes action, man! And I finally started to move in that direction. Thanks for showing the way on that one 🙂

      Paul

  13. This is excellent. A very empowering reach. You’r not preaching, you’re singing how you feel & what you’ve realised. It’s beautiful. Love it.

    Totally love the pictures – that one of the dreadlock guy. What a great pic.

    I really valued this post, Paul.

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