Sunday, September 27, 2015


I was talking to someone I used to drink with in the late 80s in North Carolina, who ended up getting sober in the West Village in the 90s, unbeknownst to me, while I was doing the same on the Upper West Side.  At some point in time she characterized her path in life, or her current state, in terms of "grace." This is a rhetoric which at one point in time would have been repugnant to me, but where I am in life now, I was right with her.

This morning I went to an AA meeting that I try to get to as often as I can, maybe one week in three on average throughout the year.  In front of me there was a guy who had once shared about killing someone while driving drunk, and the guilt and shame he felt about it.  Afterwards I had said to him that it could have been me, could have been many of us, because he was by no means alone in driving drunk.

Sometime during the meeting someone asked (and this usually doesn't happen in the middle of meetings) if there was anyone there who had less than 30 days sober.  The guy in front of me raised his hand.

And I was brought back around to my incredible sense of gratitude for the fact that, somehow, through submission, however imperfect, to the concept that I am powerless over certain things -- and as I proceed through life my consciousness of my powerlessness increases more and more -- that I have been able to stay away from an ever-wider list of things which harm me: alchohol, drugs, cigarettes, even junk food (an ongoing battle, to be sure).

What's more, I can't help but to recognize that I am of the ruling class, more or less, while this guy does not appear to be. I think about people working through dependence on drugs, alchohol, and other challenges and entering the workforce only to find it incredibly hard to find decent ways to earn decent livings.  Not that it's impossible, but it ain't easy. Nor is a policy solution to it.

It was good to see the guy in a meeting, fighting the fight for today, but it was sad to see him leave before the closing prayer.  I had hoped to congratulate him on his time. It is said that alcoholism is a cunning and baffling disease, and that's no lie.

No comments: