June 21st, 1983 was my first day sober in the Napa County Detox and Alcohol program. The journey there involved a confused boy who started drinking to get drunk at the age of 13 and I drank ’til I was 35 years old, the last 18 years of that was definitely alcoholically. I’ve led an interesting life in regard to a wide variety of experience and circumstance, much of it as a criminal and ne’er do-well; in tandem with being fairly astute and aware while simultaneously, a complete fool as to how the regular world, social, educational and practical; actually functioned.
A lot has changed, but I’m still pretty much at the mercy of my incomprehension as to how things work and why people are the way they are and do what they do. I’ve been studying and practicing Buddhism since I declared myself as such about a month into my sobriety, and have been training in a structured Soto Zen Sangha for over 30 years; so I do understand a fair amount of how and why we are the way we are, but apparently not as clearly as I think I do. I’m still a functional fool who has been very fortunate, and often grateful, in how my life has unfolded.
I have many high quality acquaintances and friends that I’m very comfortable with and a group of longtime and new people in my life that are reassuring me, by their presence and appearance in my life, that I am indeed very fortunate and blessed in my circumstance.
I had a long term marriage and friendship with a wonderful woman whom I met early on in 12-step setting and we carved out a sane (ish) life until her death eight years ago from cumulative effects of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and kidney failure. Thank you for everything, Linda. We did pretty darn good.
I have a daily practice in my mixed bag of Zen and Buddhism and am too critical of all the Noise and B.S. created by people who know very little, yet try to push a mix of the 12 Steps and some Buddhisty Hash as something that will make you feel good. Sobriety and spiritual/religious practice usually make you feel ‘good’ better, and if they are real and serious they will also make you feel ‘bad’ better. How to combine those seeming opposites into a balanced way of beginning to see how we can “Be” in the world is very different from how we are trying “Feel” in the world. Feelings pass. Being, is presence.
So, that’s were this elder-coot is situated today in a small way, in his life and mid- morning thinking/feeling. No place special really, just usual mix of awareness, blindness, gratitude/caring and carping/grousing, plus general kvetching.
A good day to be alive. So much to be grateful for, So, much that needs deeper acceptance and understanding. So much that I must allow in a world that is rife with wonder and destruction, life and death, bloom and harvest. Thank you.
This is the day,
Any other, that
I have a choice
To look and see