the Miracle of the Mundane
My wife took the kids to her mother’s last night, beginning four nights of bachelor bliss.
March madness. Reading books. Writing. Tobacco pipe smoking. Steak eating. Music blasting. How marvelous it would be.
A night out with my sponsor began my solo-spree. A friend of his picked up a 55-year chip. Fifty-five years of continuous sobriety. My sponsor himself has 33, and he relayed how he recently stepped up to the plate as a grandfather to mentor his grandson who didn’t make the baseball team. “I’ve never been more grateful to be a sober man,” he told me over dinner.
The thought resonated.
It began to echo through the empty rooms of my house when I got home last night. The old house with its creaking floors and crackling radiators was empty—utterly empty. I realized then the best part of being alone was the thought of being alone. Planning all of the ‘me’ time was the exhilarating part. Imagining my time alone while busy with family is strangely akin to planning a feast on a full stomach.
True happiness is shared. And that happiness cannot be imitated.
I can think of some acutely happy moments in my life.
My first drunk was one of them—that first realization that I can step outside of the self and all that pain and misery of being. In my bottom, I was happiest when my roommates left for the weekend and I could stay home alone and drink and use however I wanted. In early sobriety, I was happiest during a 7 week solo road trip across the country. I saw each sunrise and sunset. I wrote extensively. I read. Meditated. I went to meetings all over the country.
Then I found someone to share my life with.
My site has changed slightly in its trajectory. With some help from my friend Dan Maurer, this site is morphing (growing?) from Man in Recovery to the Miracle of the Mundane.
Joining the cyber-community, I have quickly realized how much bigger my life is than my program. Being a father, for example, is the single greatest role I will ever play in my life. And while my greatest priority is being sober, being sober makes me so much more than just a man in recovery.
Teaching, coaching, parenting. These things allow me to be a vessel of all that I’ve learned in life. The stories, the poems, the reflections, even the drunkalogues and the elegy for my lost friend are an extension of this. It is the attempt to exalt the every day, to qualify the quotidian.
I can white-knuckle my way through life, bitter at the bottle I no longer drink, or scornful of the burdensome drudgery of work and family. Or, I can see that the drudgery is draped with molten gold, dropping from the “veils of the morning” as Yeats wrote.
It’s hard to choose my happiest moment of late; they accumulate like poker chips in a series of winning hands.
My daughter is a mama’s girl. She loves to nurse. She had been saying “Mama” for months when on one faithful morning I was downstairs as she napped. She woke up crying “Dada!” I sprung to my feet and barreled upstairs so fast I should have pulled a muscle. I was there for her the first time she cried for me.
If I experience no greater joy than that, I believe it will be sufficient for me to die a happy man.
Life is extraordinary. It is a personal miracle not that I am sober, but that my life is so filled with responsibility, love, and service that the thought of a drink or a drug ceases to enter my mind—let alone hold dominion over it.
Knowing this, how could I ever truly have a case of the Mondays, or go through the motions on hump day? For me, the mundane or simple life is not boring, but a path of ecstatic joy, harrowing heartbreak, and divine redemption in equally beautiful measure.
I hugged my son before he left and told him I was staying home. He said, “I’ll miss you daddy.” I let his head rest on my shoulder. That was the happiest I will be until my family returns home. Although packing a tobacco pipe for the sunset won’t be so bad either.