I was at a meeting the other night where a newcomer said that he is “54 years old. Old! Really old. What do I have to live for? Why should I bother to get sober?” I wanted to shake him since (a) I am older than he is and (b) I can’t imagine applying that logic to my life. That kind of thinking is somewhere between “Life’s a bitch and then you die” and “Why bother to do the laundry? Clothes will just get dirty.”
I can’t say that life has been easy in the 13-1/2 years that I’ve been sober. An old-timer used to announce when I complained about how hard life was that this is “Alcoholics Anonymous. Not Hunky Dory Anonymous.” I thought people who said that their worst day sober was better than their best day drunk were nuts.
Over the years I’ve found that this way of life works to keep me sucking air even when events make me want to pull the covers over my head and just quit. It helps because it lets me know that nothing-no pain, no joy, no person, place or thing-lasts forever. I don’t like that thought when things are going well, but it comforts me immeasurably when the wheels fall off and the car is leaving a trail of sparks as it skids off the road.
I don’t have any guarantees about what life has around the corner. I was thinking about “the best is yet to come” when I noticed that I took Alleve a couple of days last week because of a stiff neck. That happens when I drive or when I sit hunched over a drafting board studying plans for several hours during the day. That means that most days it’s a low ache and occasionally it’s bad enough to take something to ease the pain. Jumping out of Bob’s truck, my right knee reminds me that it’s there. Sometimes it whispers and sometimes it shouts. It is no longer silent.
My friend Glenda got sciatica bad enough to warrant surgery. I watched her struggle with a pain that was so raw that nothing relieved it and she wept with the exhaustion. It scared me. Would I be able to still sit here and say the “best is yet to come” if I were enduring that kind of pain? Easy to say when things are going well and nearly impossible when unspeakable pain is a 24 hour visitor.
I don’t know how I would feel. I know that I continue to walk through the grief of losing Jack. Were there something that could numb that pain, I am not sure I would take it. Oh, heck. I did the best I could to anesthetize feelings for nearly half his life when I drank. Feeling the pain lets me know that I am alive, that he was alive. Shutting that off is unthinkable.
I am glad I don’t know the future. I thought about taking the test for genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease since we watched our Dad suffer and die from that horrible sickness. I don’t want to know. Really. I may someday, but I would rather enjoy this day without the pall of dementia shadowing it.
Is the best yet to come? Is the worst over or is the other shoe getting ready to fall. Glad I don’t have a crystal ball to magically let me know. Day at a time works best when I just hold the steering wheel and let the Creator handle the itinerary. God often lets me have the illusion that I’m driving even when my feet don’t reach the gas pedal.