Gratitude for a Good Year.
This year has presented me with many significant challenges. And I’m going to lift them up out of my heart and set them aside today. Because in all objectivity, this has been about the best year of my life. The number of wonderful things I have going on dwarfs the difficulties and trials, and it’s high time I accounted for them in a meaningful way. I have a good life. A far better life than I deserve, or have earned. And I say that while feeling like I’ve earned a good bit, as well.
One of the fundamental aspects of sobriety, at least as practiced in AA, is to keep careful track of the things we’re grateful for. If we don’t do that, it is easy to fall into the traps of self-pity and resentment, which all too frequently feel like they will respond to inebriation. Relapses happen when we don’t focus on our gratitude. On what we have, rather than on what we want. So. Here’s what I’m grateful for about 2014:
- I didn’t drink this year. This marks the sixth complete year that I have not had a drink. And if I don’t drink again before mid-February, it will be seven years since I have had a drink.
- I didn’t smoke this year. It’s been more than five years now since I had any tobacco. I ought to be nearly approaching the health profile of a never-smoker.
- I have an incredible love in my life, fulfilling and exciting and thrilling and generous. I am feeling a sense of partnership I always longed for, and finally have.
- I have a great job that I’m good at. I enjoy my work – most of the time – and I like the people I work with. I believe in the mission of my institution and I’m pleased to be a part of it.
- I’ve seen more of my family in the past year than in most years, and I’m grateful to have been able to see my nieces and nephew growing up bright and strong.
- I am in the best physical condition of my adult life. I have run hundreds of miles and three half-marathons. I’m working on strength and fitness and gearing up to do more.
- My hernia scare turned out to be nothing more than a muscle strain, and it is nearly healed. No surgery for me in 2014!
- Despite all the vexing and expensive troubles, I have a pretty good home in a pretty good place to live, close to work and with access to everything I really need.
- I had two wonderful vacations with my partner, including a two-week trip to the far east which was magnificently rewarding. I learned and experienced some of the most amazing things of my life.
- I published three papers this year and have another accepted and coming out soon in the new year. I’m contributing to my field in a way that will have impact.
- I helped mentor a student into medical school.
- I was promoted at work, and may be getting an academic position at a local university from which to do some research and increase my academic presence at my own institution.
- I have a long list of close friends that I see and interact with regularly, and I have chosen to embrace my online experience in a new way, accentuating its positive impact.
Those are the highlights. Every day I wake up grateful not to be hungover and hacking up brown phlegm. Every day I wake up grateful for the people I love in my life and the wonderful ways they enrich me. Every day I wake up grateful for the opportunities I have to contribute to the world and make my environment a little bit better place to be, for myself and for others.
I am profoundly grateful for the privileges and good fortunes I have that have allowed me to flourish here. I am proud of the hard work I have done which has taken advantage of both those fortunes and new opportunities. I am moving upwards and forwards. And I am learning more each year that perhaps my greatest privilege is to be an alcoholic. Because it has provided me with a framework for my life that encourages me to work hard, and recognize all the wonderful things I have.
This has been a good year. This has been a great year. My biggest challenge is staying focused on all my manifest blessings, rather than on the small things that irritate and frustrate me. And the fact that my biggest challenge relates to my perspective, rather than my health or my relationships or my economic stability, is by itself a matter of extraordinary gratitude.
I hope you’ve had a good year. I hope you’ve had your best year. And I hope that the blessings in your life are as profound and encompassing as mine have been. May 2015 reveal in all of us a lightness and meaning that we can celebrate together.