A Superb Metaphor.
I’m meeting my personal trainer this afternoon. I’ve been seeing her for several months now, a total of 17 sessions. I haven’t lost any weight. I’ve been stalled at around 190 for quite a long time now. But I have toned considerably. I know I’ve traded some body fat for some muscle mass. I’d like to go back t0 my physician and get another blood panel done. My last one was totally within the ‘normal’ range for all values, but it was at the upper edge of some, like fasting glucose. But everything is headed in the correct direction.
I have another friend in the program who used to be a personal trainer. This person was kind of concerned about me over the weekend, when I was obviously upset. But as I recovered my resolve and have begun making progress again, and writing about my intentions for taking forward steps, my friend had an insight that I thought was a propos and important.
In fitness (and I’m sure here I’ll get some of the jargon wrong), they talk about recovery time as the time from a cardiovascular excursion (like a >150 bpm heart rate) until the return to nominal. Basically, from when you’re panting and your heart is pounding to when you feel normal again. The fitter you are, the shorter this time is. When I first started exercising, I would run around the block (half a mile where I live) and then pant for 10 minutes or more. Now, after running for 30 minutes straight, about 3 miles, my heart rate and breathing will return to nominal in about two minutes.
My friend’s observation was that the program, and what we call our spiritual fitness, is roughly the same. There was a huge insult to my serenity this past week and a half. I am going to have to clean up a mess that I thought was already cleaned with regard to travel to Canada. I had a really big, and important career-wise, grant rejected. I had a paper rejected rather emphatically. I lost my sense of peace and well-being, and was very upset for several days.
And now I’m ok again. I have an action plan moving forward. I went to my meetings. I shared my feelings and perspective with people who care about me and know me and know my progress. People who’ve been with me through far worse times. My program fitness it pretty good. I know how to handle my emotions. Even when despair gets the better of me for a time, I bounce back, regain perspective, and return to progress.
I’m not perfect, and I’ve never claimed to be a perfect sober person. But I am working hard to maintain a perspective that is informed by the whole journey I’ve taken. My spiritual condition is not determined by what’s happened to me this week, or this month. It’s based on the entirety of my path from alcoholic desolation through to a transformational recovery that has me able to participate usefully in the world, and be mostly peaceful and content with life and my passage through it. When there are disruptions, I recover quickly.
Because this grant or that paper, or this job or that marriage, none of these things have the power to destroy me. Not truly. The only thing that has that power is my own unchecked self-destructive nature, when fueled by alcohol. So I can be angry about Canadian bureaucracy, and I can be sad about a paper rejection, and I can feel unjustly scored by a study group, and none of these things have the slightest power to derail the progress of my life. My life is bigger than that. I’m fitter than that.