The last couple of days have seen me a bit out of sorts. Depressing news from communities I care about. The Cardinals lost. The general stress of looking for a house in ECC. And it’s easy to be frustrated and depressed. I have incredible support in my life, from a bunch of people who really love me. But there’s another source that can ground me in a way that no other source can, for me.
Last night I dropped in on a good old-fashioned church-basement AA meeting. I usually go to my men’s meeting on Wednesdays, but I’d skipped this week to watch the Dodgers stay alive. Feeling angry and resentful and generally full of angst and self-pity, I knew that I needed to pick up a meeting, and not just wait until my next regular meeting came around (which is not often enough, these days).
So I bought a cup of coffee and hit a 7pm meeting near my house. The topic was the seventh chapter of Living Sober, which is about the Serenity Prayer. Now, I don’t pray, really, except at the end of AA meetings. But I believe that the act of prayer, or of mindful meditation, can have a powerful effect on the person praying or meditating. And that thoughtful silence and listening can be among the most powerful tools I have for approaching the world.
So I shut up, and listened to other people talk. The woman who, at 7 years of sobriety, checked herself into a “mental hospital” because she thought she was going to drink. The kid who is just starting, realizing for the first time, “That prayer is talking about me. I have to accept my addiction, but I can change my using.” The middle-aged man saying, “I can’t rely on a higher power. I can only rely on myself. And it keeps leading me back to prison. The last time I went in at 34 and came out at 43. That hurt. But I can’t rely on nobody but me. Maybe if I keep coming back, it’ll change.”
It was a deeply arresting meeting, like so many I’ve been to in the past 2072 days. Deeply calming. Providing perspective on the things in my life that I can’t control. The things I can. The life I want and the relationships that matter. The deep calm and profound gratitude that comes from having survived, through grace and effort, my own otherwise irresistible impulse toward inebriation and death.
I have found the long deep waters of serenity. My only struggle is with myself, to keep from willfully abandoning them.