Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Away or here...

There is no such place as "away"

The above was spelled out in Scrabble blocks as part of a collage at an art installation in New Mexico, where I certainly felt "away" - away from the verdant Pacific Northwest, away from my spouse, away from my daily routines. But is "away" really away?

The statement made me think of the AA saying, "Wherever you go, there you are," the fact that I can't escape who I am, no matter the setting. That truth came home to me in an uncomfortable way years ago when I realized the same concerns I had at my new job had followed me from the old. Maybe it wasn't all those other people. Maybe at least some of it was me. 

As a takeoff on the old TV commercial, "Calgon, take me away!" I sometimes want to be transported to some mythical, stress-free paradise, which, for me could be a forest or a metropolis. As I walked (and walked and walked) the Denver airport, killing time until my connecting flight home, I imagined boarding the plane to London, or maybe Wichita, and what life might be like there - "life" or at least a vacation. As much as I enjoy travel, I'm a bit of a homebody. I wouldn't mind moving away for awhile, as long as I could come back, but I'm curious about lives in other places. What's "away" to me is "here" to someone else.

Even on vacations, I am who I am with my morning tea and journal, reading before bed, more attuned to sunrise than sunset. The cup of tea might be in a paper cup or hotel lobby, but I tend to take my habits with me - not necessarily a bad thing, but an observation. The ability to observe might be one of the gifts of long-term recovery, of aging, of settling in to what matters and what doesn't. It's taken me literal decades to be able to call on the "pause," and I don't always, but when I am able to step even a few inches back from my reactive self, I can observe, and better determine if my response to a situation is valid or some old idea play-acting as truth. 

Paul McCartney just turned 80. Freaking 80 years old. As I walk or s-l-o-w jog through my neighborhood, or giggle with women I've known since I was a kid, I can lose sight of the passage of time. But then my mom's cousin turns 93 and I think of all she's experienced in life, or a rock star turns 80 and I think of all that's happened in my life in the years since I first screamed at The Beatles in front of the television set. A friend turns 70 next week and I think of the hours we've spent pounding the pavement, stopping at my mom's for a bathroom break. We're still at it, though older and slower, and no mom to give us a cookie for sustenance.  Richard Rohr wrote that "None of the outer trappings will last," whether looks or fitness, abilities or clear eyesight, parents or movie stars. Dreams die or fade away; people die, as will I. Interests change, as do the seasons. Getting comfortable with these realities seems to be the task of this phase of my development (and maybe it always was, though my resistance got in the way). Not being one who's celebrated change in the past, I find myself trying on this new way of being, this curiosity about what's next, be that in the garden, my daily calendar or the smile-lines I see on my face and the faces of those I love.

What doesn't change are the inner trappings, my morals and values, which were there all along, obscured by addictions and insecurities. I am grateful that the principles of the program don't change either and provide an anchor no matter what else might be going on inside, or in the world. My perception of, and application of the principles may evolve, but truth is truth. Integrity is integrity. Honesty is honesty. And, self-reflection as part of  "pause when agitated or doubtful" is a way to practice my values. 

Summer has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest after a wet and cool spring. As I marked the Solstice yesterday, I took time to reflect on the six months of the year gone by, as well as those ahead. Our calendars and clocks are human-contrived, but the seasons are eternal. One day at a time, I will continue those habits and routines that bring me comfort, whether here or away, while observing and being willing to let go of that which no longer serves. I will relax into the season as it appears, not as I wish it were (cooler, hotter, more this, less that). I will "focus on that which abides," (from The Book of Runes, R. Blum) 

 Thinking of the "outer trappings" of your life, which are transient? What values and beliefs anchor you to the here and now? How will you be present in the season just upon us?

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See the Feb 4 post for a sample of the 78-page workbook, "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" available as hard copy (mailed) or PDF (emailed - ideal for those outside the U.S.). Portland Area Intergroup also has a supply available at 825 NE 20th Ave, suite 200.  Go to the WEB VERSION of this page, if you don't see the purchase link in the upper right corner

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