Snowed in and Sober
It’s snowed twenty inches between last night and this afternoon.
My three year old joined me outside before heavy blizzard winds made even small stints outside dangerous. I pulled him on a toddler sled up and down the empty white streets— the snow silencing the neighborhood like a noise-cancelling blanket. I remember thinking that this should be enough; this is all I need.
Yet a thought persisted. A thought that seems to plague us as a social-media culture: How did I forget my phone? Why didn’t I bring my camera? If things aren’t digitally captured, we are inclined to not count them as happening, like the twisting of a great philosophical thought suggests:
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to tweet it, does it make a sound?
This line of thinking makes the moment inadequate. I was angry that this great time with my son would be somehow incomplete without documenting it, as if all posterity passes through pixels.
This is familiar thinking. Long before I took my first drink, I felt inadequate. I can recall at nine years old (or so) walking down the street and longing to be someone else. If only I were someone else, I would know how to think, what to do, how to feel—whether it were a bum on the street or the president of the United States. There was a handbook on life I never checked out, that everyone else did.
It felt as if life were a changing room, and nothing that I tried on would fit.
I’ve heard others share of this same sentiment in meetings. It seems a common problem that drinking provided a common solution for: drinking was a social comfort that promoted a sense of belonging.
Sobriety has given me a new sense of belonging, and a self-acceptance I’ve never felt before. I’ve felt the momentous moment of things. The great fourth dimension of existence, where my presence is so perfectly acceptable, I could dissolve into the expanding universe.
It is well put by Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now, on page 27:
The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgement. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind.”
When we stop (or have God remove) this persistent resistance to what is around us and in us, we can feel peace, serenity, and completeness.
I need the constant reminder that who I am is who I should be, and that if do nothing more than stay sober today, I am doing enough.
My son made his first snow angel and snow ball. He was giddy, a smile of wonder frozen on his face. We are capable of recapturing this same wonder for ourselves.
I wrote a poem after the sight of a thousand forest leaves blowing in unison stopped me in my tracks one day. In the pink-cloud of early recovery, with the wreckage of my life clearing away, it felt like the first time I had ever seen a leaf twist in the wind.