Patience and stillness are hard for me. Much to my chagrin, they are foundational tenets of the “big book” of Alcoholics Anonymous: “…we pause when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.” 1 (Whom we ask is sure to be the subject of many future blogs, so I’ll just stick to the ‘mindful stillness’ and ‘quiet mind’ thingamabob I’m trying understand.)
I have spent the last 18 days clean and sober. While I feel healthier and stronger today than I have in two years, I have only just arrived at Taylor Made, a Spiritual Retreat Center and can’t quite suss out why we would leave the magnificent Portland property on which the spiritual recovery home sits to attend an AA meeting four hours away in Sedro-Woolley, just outside of Seattle. So, I pause. I learn that Lowell will be their meeting speaker. And since he owns this addiction treatment house, we go. Lowell is rather impish for a sage. His eyes twinkle, as if he has a great secret to share (he does, but I don’t know that yet at 18 days.) He’s a cross between Peter O’Toole, Bill Clinton, and the Keebler Elf. And while that may sound silly & unconventional, he is brilliant and inspirational. He also promised snacks.
I am now sardined in the back of a Chevy Tahoe. I become anxious, so I pause again. Though I am 5’11” and have an athletic build, rehab recovery, it seems, is not for the meek. I’m speaking both figuratively and literally, as crunched next to me is a fellow addict measuring approximately 6’6”. But as I said, snacks. I wonder if this is always how addiction help looks. I also ponder if this how yogis get their limber start, but this musing is cut short. Pause… for snacks.
Laden with lattes and gummy bears, we hit the road. We steal time on Seattle’s giant Ferris wheel after lunch on the pier. We look like a normal group of friends. I realize, because, we are. Pause again. Looking out over the city, its harbor, with Mount St. Helen’s picturesquely befogged in the distance, I relax into gratitude.
When we reach Sedro-Woolley two hours later, it hits me that I feel connected and care tremendously about this van full of giants. This isn’t a typical treatment center. And these are not typical giants. Pause. That thought is quickly replaced by an even nuttier realization that I haven’t used drugs in almost three weeks. Big pause. I haven’t been around people much lately, so when we meet Len and the other “old timers” who populate the small clubhouse AA potluck gathering, I feel something akin to blessed.
Len in his 70’s, who can deadlift more than I, has 51 years of sobriety. Brenda, who is hilarious and came along to meet us all, has 28. Lowell, who literally partied like a rock star for decades and gave it up 29 years ago, slayed as speaker, btw. I have 18 days. But… I have them. I have Taylor Made Retreat. I have a little more hope than I did yesterday. Pause. And I have snacks.