I mentioned a few days ago that I had a personal anniversary coming up today. September 10th is the date I got released from detox at Suburban Hospital in Maryland, and commenced a long journey of learning how to live.
When I was doing my "90 meetings in 90 days" in the (very rough) early going, I often went to the Westside Club meeting of AA in Georgetown. In those days, it was the meeting of choice for some of Washington's movers and shakers—Ted Kennedy came every now and then, and Jim Vance, anchorman of one of the local nightly news broadcasts, would show up on his blindingly chromed Harley dressed from head to foot in white fringed buckskin leathers. Those meetings could be crowded and loud. At one, a guy got up to speak who had been sober for 19 years. I had maybe eight or ten days at the time, and was really struggling with it, desperately, hour by hour—I remember sometimes having to go to three meetings in a day because I couldn't think of any other way to get through another six hour period. And I remember feeling completely, utterly incredulous at that guy's situation, for a whole jumbled mix of reasons—I couldn't believe anyone could do what I was doing for 19 years; I had no confidence at all that I wouldn't be dead by then; and I couldn't believe a guy who'd been sober for that long was still coming to meetings. That period of time just seemed so incomprehensibly immense—you might as well have told me I had to count all the grains of sand on a beach. I got so fixated on it that a few of the guys eventually had to sit me down and give me a good talking-to on the whole meaning of "one day at a time." "You worry about the next nineteen hours. That you can do."
That was true. The days do add up, though. Today, I've been clean and sober for 19 years. I'm still just a little bit incredulous at the whole preposterous idea—but here I am, alive, and still sober. And still going to meetings (whenever I get cocky, mainly).
Anyway, no need to comment on this. I don't need or want to start a discussion (and neither do you—go to your meeting to do your talking). I just wanted to give a word of encouragement to anyone who is struggling with staying clean or sober on this day, September 10th, 2009. I know you're out there. Solidarity, my brothers and sisters. Make it through today. It actually gets easier, little by little, one grain of sand at a time.
The illustration shows "Temperance bearing an hourglass," a detail of a fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti at the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, Italy.