One of Hugo’s sources of income is to lead trekkers through the Huascarán National Park in Peru. A friend emailed me from Peru that Hugo suffered from arthritis in his knee. A tourist had provided him with a med purchased over the counter at Walgreen’s that brought him tremendous relief and allowed him to continue with his occupation. The friend asked if I could buy one of the meds and bring it to Peru for Hugo when I came down this past July. I did so. The medicine cost 10.00 or about one day’s wages for working in the fields in Huaylas Peru.
Hugo was extremely grateful – beyond measure. He reciprocated by fixing a fabulous dinner of cobaya or guinea pig and potatoes for our field crew of 8. Seems that Hugo kind of got the short end of the deal, but he certainly did not think so.
This instance causes me to reflect on the people, places, and things in which we place value. I cannot place a monetary or any other measurable value on my recovery. I could count up the dollars I have saved in not drinking and the amount certainly far exceeds the dollars I have placed in AA baskets or contributed to charitable organizations over the years.
But experiences in recovery, such as those with Hugo, teach me that there is a whole different way of consider value that is not possible in monetary exchange or balancing out weights on a scale. Rather, recovery allows the value of being in community and in relationship with ourselves and the rest of the world.
Hugo was the last person I saw when our transport pulled out to start the two-hour descent down the unpaved rocky mountain road from Hualcayán just a short 10 days ago. I look forward to seeing Hugo again in January when I go back for a quick visit. I also know that should I choose to drink or use drugs between now and then, the return will not occur.
In this way, I have come to value recovery not because I no longer have blackouts, hangovers, lost jobs and so forth. Rather, I have come to value recovery for what I have been given.