About Me

My photo
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Singular Events

So it's been one month since I learned I must get some medical monitoring and be very alert for the return of an old affliction after a routine blood draw gave up some worrisome news. Yes, it is a serious ailment and I've already had a 2-year turn standing in the watchtower. I don't care for it much. I wrote about whirling around like a dervish for a week, doing the avoidance dance and then being hit hard after seven days when I was forced to slow down and look it in the eye. Get an update on the enemy's position and plan from there. I don't like "one". It is the loneliest number, just as we were told. One day, one week, one month, one year out of how many? How many ones make "all"? As in "all over, let down the drawbridges". I like definition, as the reader can see.

At least half of the illness fear focuses upon my head and what goes on inside it. No illness ever arrives at a convenient time, I am sure, but when I had to face this beginning in 2006, I handled it perhaps as poorly as it could be handled. Fired by the flaming fuel of terror, I got myself to appointments, procedures, blood draws and emergency rooms, in the company of advocates when needed. I was well-supported by friends and loved ones. My work did not suffer and I maintained my home as usual. I weathered more than 2 years of chaos and came out "optimistically good" in the end. That's when I lost it. The erosion of my self by fear caused me to behave in ways that are unlike me. I acted out. I drank. I broke things that may never be repaired. I harmed myself and others in ways that may never be remedied. My personal store of resources is still low and I cannot afford to "lose it" again, for any good reason. I can pony up for any briefly unpleasant form of treatment or diagnosis. I feel less certain of my ability to hold myself together metaphysically.

Ah, but there is this: almost literally simultaneously with my little physical surprise, I'd been enjoying some temporary sunshine. I was renewing a relationship that is important to me, with a person I love. This was exciting, and I fairly bubbled over with it. I suffered a good deal of teasing and winking. However, the issues that have always been issues are still issues, to my disquietude. I imagine it is my sobriety that has cleared my head, but some things cannot be molded to perfection and I became silent. We're two nice people who shouldn't spend a lot more time beating a dead horse, in my opinion. My withdrawal into self was noticed at AA. "Why so quiet, Les?" I said I had more on my plate than I could deal with. I didn't feel up to handling any of it well, and that I'd possibly make a mess of all of it (again). I was encouraged, day after day, in meetings and in private, to get every bit of the buffet out onto the table in full view. Guess what? I still have health issues. I have resolved a human issue. Everyone involved it in has retained their dignity and love for one another. In fact a love offering was delivered right to my door on Saturday, to my surprise. I nearly broke my face grinning! This may sound day-to-day dull to some readers. This is earth-shattering for me. I don't resolve issues. I bomb the planet and leave no man standing. Including myself. I sense this new way is going to save me a lot of time formerly spent in reinvention. I got through without drinking, without destruction, without hurting anyone. Even myself.

If you heard a thundering din followed by the roar of a rushing river, that was me. For my years-long creative logjam has been freed by a surge of ideas, adhesives and more. I have made and completed a project I am OK good with! I cannot show it here and now as it is a gift for a friend who won't see it for a few days. It is an imperfect item, to be sure, but it is whole and it shall be presented with joy. It should be noted that I called out for my usual absolutions: "Wrong adhesives on hand." "Don't own the good scissors any more." "I'm depressed." I was gently urged forward. "Try this." Keep at it." Finally it was completed after some pretty close handwork accomplished without my glasses and with muttered curses. I christened it with a histrionic and overwrought name, will feature it on my blog at some future date, and immediately jumped into plans for more such items. As described in my recent post, I'm in full "Hey, I've Got an Idea!" mode. Oh, this will affect others and change the world as we know it. Or so I see it right now. And the beauty of this is that my strong yen to create has lay dormant for so long, I thought it was irretrievable. But maybe not.

The monsoonal season is back in full force with a day of showers and glowering clouds on Sunday. Oh, I enjoy a rainshowerjunk art supply treasure. Yeah! Uh-huh. Within moments, I opened the big garage door in order to breathe. After 5 minutes, I needed to sit down, sweat pouring. Unlike myself, I felt a little faint. Short of breath, kind of. Glancing at the new instrument, I saw it was only about 80-degrees, with humidity at 65%! We're accustomed to single-digit humidity. I came inside, wiped my brow and wondered how people in the east can tolerate that for even a moment. Ugh!

A man introduced himself as a newcomer at AA. There's no requirement for a person to do so, but when one does it, we who are veterans make a point of welcoming him or her. He said it was the first AA meeting he'd ever attended and he was fewer than 24 hours sober. He was back today. "Hi, this is my second AA meeting ever. I'm more than 24 hours sober." Members applauded. I was sitting near him, so I smiled and said, "Good for you! Keep coming back." During the meeting, the topic being discussed prompted me to share an anecdote. It was a rerun, but that happens. Sometimes the day's subject only reminds me of one event, or I'm in a different group. It's OK to tell a story more than once. Some AAs even become legends due to their one seminal story. So I told my true tale and spent the rest of the meeting feeling uncomfortable as I'd been sandwiched tightly between a couple who were sparring and tossing angry energy at one another through me. I bolted for the door after the Lord's Prayer.

In the patio, the man made a beeline for me. He'd been struck by my sharing and took pains to say so. He reiterated he was 24-hours sober and hit my sponsor up for a cigarette, but turned his attention back to me. "Well, let's talk, though I can't help you with a smoke." He said he wouldn't have thought so. I must give off rays or something. For those who do not share our disease, this man is in a hard spot. His face showed it. We talked about my sharing and about how difficult the first days are. He asked when he could find meetings during the week, so we agreed to meet up tomorrow when Jenn and I will introduce him to some of the men in our group who can perhaps sponsor him and who can certainly help him. He was so grateful. He said so. And he showed it. Walking to the parking lot, I said, "Well. My first. A newcomer reached out for help from me." Jenn said, "Yep. He was definitely seeking you. And you did  it really well." Imagine this. Exactly one year ago I lost my job and other major parts of my life because my drinking was so out of control. And today I helped a man. He didn't know my story was a retread. He didn't know I'm struggling to work my own program as I am distressed over my other problems. He gave me the opportunity to be of the highest service we can give: get sober, stay sober and help another alcoholic get sober. I just seemed safe haven to him. A drunk with something to offer another drunk. I am humbled and awed.

And so, another day. It's August! Driver's license to be renewed, already. A writing deadline looms, which promises income. The humidity is torturous, causing even my straight-as-pins hair to curl a little. Smokey Robinson on the iPod. And so it goes.

In my ears right now: Because I love it, because it makes me dance, and because the focus just now is on "up", "fun", "hand-clapping".

This post dedicated to the memories that were made.


  1. You sound like you're really thriving in AA.

  2. I haven't been around for a while Les, mostly by chance and too much work, but it's good to read how well you're doing. Keep it up.

  3. @ Kirk ~ I try SO hard. Every day. Every 24 hours. Every hour. Thank you!

  4. @ Lis ~ It makes me feel so good that you popped in. I've been distracted, too. However, I know his: you now know how to include photos/images. You go! I'll go! I am so grateful for your support.

  5. Hey Les, how cool is that? You got to be the someone who matters to someone who needs someone to matter. Sometimes a word or a hand is all it takes to make the biggest difference in someone's life.

  6. I live everyday like it's my last. Eliminates the counting. except there's now 505 days left. Leslie-san, there is no try just do or not do. You will continue to do, that's what you do.


  7. @ Rachel ~ It awes me! Completely. It goes hand-in-hand with the look in my cat's eyes when she stares at me. She doesn't require the power of speech to deliver her message. She thinks I am the cat's meow. The bomb. Imagine a creature who had me as her idol. I don't have a very good track record, one knows. BTW, the man now has nearly a week of sobriety and hasn't missed a meeting.

  8. @ Mike ~ from your lips to the benevolent cosmos, my friend. I am having a lot of trouble "doing". More trouble than I've ever had before to simply "do". But each day is a new opportunity. Love you, Mike.

  9. I like the scooter pic, and the sugar skull!
    And good for you, for helping a man in need. That always feels pretty awesome.

  10. Oh, and that illustration of the female growing up looks really familiar to me. I used to have a book I think with a similar picture that I was constantly comparing my 8-year old self to. I apparently, have always been impatient.

  11. @ CramCake ~ Yep, that Vespa dedication was to you, Scooter Girl. And "bones" have long had a special meaning in my life. Pictures of, metaphors for, references to.

    You were the first to learn, today, of my wondrous reward for trying to live a good life and be of help to others. I feel a joyous post coming on!

    I submit that charts of human development stand a good chance of making someone, somewhere, sometime feel pretty inferior. I always wondered why I got all the standard stuff except . . height.

  12. They really should put a little 8-year old girl picture in there. It's not fair to try and extrapolate between the 5 yo and the 16 yo girls. That's just not how it works. But try telling an 8 yo that.

  13. @ CramCake ~ You're right! It would make a kid think there was going to be some magic carpet ride across one night and bing-bada-boom, there you are. Now for me, puberty did rather hit like that, but I still agree 5-15 is too big/long a stretch. I suspect the same charts might show 40-70 in a tight little configuration, and that may be true, as well. ;~{

  14. For me, and hopefully this is not admitting too much, puberty took place over a decade. I think it started somewhere in junior high and finished in college. For crying out loud, is that even reasonable?

  15. @ CramCake ~ I say yes because they don't make us on copy machines. Also, we might be using "puberty" differently. I'm taking about attaining adult height, weight, female changes, but not necessarily taking in the full range of hormonal/emotional/developmental experiences we go through. In that respect, you're still in puberty. Alas . .