Today is my 30th Anniversary of being alcohol and drug free. As I take stock of the significance of the past thirty years of recovery, I am quite humbled and grateful. I recollect walking into a detox center on August 4, 1984, checking in because I had just reached the end of the road. I knew that I could not continue living as I was. I really do not know why, but I had some hope or belief that I would be able to do something different. Although I would not have thought this way at the time, today I view the process as climbing out of the bottle and moving in the direction of a road to discovery of true self.
(The last thirty years have been eventful, to say the least. Nothing that I do today would I be doing were I not sober. I am fond of saying that I do not have a complaint in the world today and if every breadth I have taken and every drink I consumed got me to where I am today, I would not change a thing.
I find it humorous that as a techno geek, my laptop died about 10 days ago, and my iPad has become “disabled” for some reason perhaps Apple can explain to me in the future, but I did not drink over it even though for the past month I have been in the rural Andes of Peru – where an Apple Store is only a dream. (I borrowed this iPad to check my email and post this reflection.)
My wife and friend and lover and I found each other over fifteen years ago as our paths crossed on this road toward true self. My stepchildren and grandchildren have never seen me drunk. I am able to play a supportive and responsible role in their lives.
Today I teach at a university and direct a museum, among other things. I see this career as essentially sharing my experience, strength, and hope. That is why I am in the rural Huaylas Municipality of Peru. This past Sunday, we opened a museum in a small village of 400. From the inception to cutting the ribbon and somewhat ironically, breaking the bottle of champaign, the entire museum process resonated with the need for self-respect, community well-being, a sense of worth and value for the marginalized. I was honored to participate in the process and look forward to my return in January to take the next steps with the community.
But the greatest part of the trip, and there have been lots of highlights, was being asked by Wilson and Susana, two Quechua residents of the community, to be the godfather for their son who will be born in the coming weeks. The asking was through a friend who interpreted as my Spanish is quite bad. But when Wilson’s question to the friend got to the word padrino, I had a pretty good idea of what was coming. I was quite shocked, and very inarticulately agreed. I later had the friend translate a more coherent response, that I then read to the couple.
Other than being one of the half-dozen gringos on the project, and recognizing that it is not that uncommon for at least a couple of our team members over the years to be asked to fill this role, I had to ask myself , Why Me? I wondered if it was because I played with their daughters Carla and Luciana while the adults discussed the days events. (My iPad worked at the time to play a Little Red Riding Hood interactive in Spanish, where I brushed up on my vocabulary.) Or did it have something to do with my presence and role over the past month in the community – my commitment to a process of co-creation with the area residents. Was it from sitting up till 11:00 PM one night peeling potatoes and onions with Wilson, watching him butcher the choncho for the museum opening meal, even though my back was killing me. Or perhaps because I first invited the family of four to take their meals with us that Susana cooked, instead of taking the leftovers home to eat.
I am not certain of the complete reason, and it really is not relevant. What I do know is that if I were not sober today, I would never have started down a road 30 years ago that led me to a small village in the Andes Mountains of Peru. For that opportunity, I am eternally grateful. I look forward to life, fully.