About Me

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I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Elul Day Eleven: Count

When I was about five years sober, I started listening to AA tapes. For those of you not in the know, these are (were? I would guess that the technology has progressed, but I'm not sure. we alcoholics really know how to cling to tradition and the way it used to be...) Anyway, these were cassette tapes of speakers, folks who shared their experience, strength and hope with us, a simple and profound message of living a sober life a day at a time. They were not Greater Than folks. we were not Less Than others. They just really had a story to tell and did it amazingly well.

I remember one such speaker well. I have no idea what his name is. I never met him. He was from California and he was part of the speaker circuit. we learned early on in AA that one of the ways to keep your sobriety is to give it away-- to share, and help another alcoholic to achieve sobriety. As we say, you can carry the message or be the message: pick.

These guys carried the message spectacularly.

So. This guy. He was speaking form the vantage point of 20 years or so of sobriety, and he reminded his (invisible) audience of the value of time. He talked about slips in early sobriety-- you pull together a bit of time, a couple of hours, a handful of days-- but apparently, you're not quite finished with your despair and your love affair with self destruction, not quite ready to get honest, be raw and vulnerable, far away from asking for help and getting humble enough (or desperate enough) to accept it-- and there you are: drunk again.

And that drunk is welcomed back into the rooms with open arms and gentle nods. Keep coming back. It works if you work it... It's ok, we say. We hope you get it. We hope you stay. We hope you get sober. And so they try again, climb up on the wagon and put together some time, a couple of days, a month or three. Maybe they make it. Most don't, but some of us are blessed beyond belief with this gift. Some remain scouts, testing the waters to see if being "out there" gets any better.

I've never heard a story, in over twenty years, that it has. 

So this guy. Again with the guy. And counting. because this is an essay about counting. This guy reminded us that it's about counting. Yes, he declared, the most sober person in the rooms is the one who woke up earliest  today. Today, because we are only given a daily reprieve. So the trick, the joy, the simple, difficult, terrifying and only thing that really matter, is to put together a day. And then another. And another after that. 

A day becomes a week becomes a year becomes a lifetime. Our days count. They add up. They mean something. This is the whole point of it: as we count our days, all of us, sober or not, drunks or "normal"-- we add our days: one + one + another and another to equal a life that counts. A life that matters. 

Now, on this eleventh day of Elul, as I consider my life, who I am and where I fit, preparing to stand at the gates of everything, to walk humbly with God, I understand a holy arithmatic. In living a life that matters, in making my days count, one plus one plus one equals infinity.

PS-- I am a little obsessed with counting. Go figure. I wrote this essay, Time and Light, about a year ago. It;s about marking and measuring time, and how that changes us, and who we might become. I hope you enjoy it.