I recently got back from a couple-week trip to Peru that I blogged about already. The trip brought together some folks and circumstances that result directly from the road I traveled in sobriety. The colleague I collaborate now with in Peru is the childhood friend of one of my step-daughters in the family I came to join in 1998 after being sober for nearly 15 years. When I first met this person back some 10 years ago, I recollect giving her two big boxes of my academic texts on South America because I was ‘getting out of the business.’ Now I find myself getting back into the business through another door some 10 years later, leading to my trip this summer.
I also realize that today, everything that I do, every word that I write in this blog, would not be possible were I to pick up the bottle and decide to climb back into my active alcoholism. Addicts are sometimes criticized as being overly dramatic when saying that to practice their addiction is to commit suicide. However, a decision for me today to actively practice my addictions is precisely that – a decision to stop living, to only exist as a biological organism waiting for fate to snuff out it’s breath.
One of the realities I enjoy most about sobriety is that when I reflect on the time that I have been sober, I could never have predicted the road I would travel. When I walked into the detox unit those years ago, all I wanted to do was to quit drinking, stop the obsession, end the blackouts, the insanity, the constant sickness of body and mind. I could think no further than that. I had no other dreams or aspirations. I just wanted to stop the pain.
With sobriety I began to be able to dream again, and not in nightmares. After a bit, I became reminded of a quote that had meaning to me many years before the insanity of addiction took its full toll:
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them – Henry David Thoreau
The foundation building is a big part of sobriety. The castle for me is trying to construct and live into a true self. I find this to be like a building with many rooms. I enjoy that there are always new rooms to explore, to learn from, to incorporate their lessons and experiences into the whole self. This summer I went in the Peru room and found a lot of cool stuff to work with in that process.
A couple of months ago, I took an online test based on my health status and life-style today. The test results predicted I would live to be 94 – another 33 years of room exploration! But even with the probability of getting run over when crossing the street or whatever, I think about the room exploration yet to come that is only possible with the foundation of recovery. A truly exciting prospect!