Opening up

Photo credit: Alan Vernon


Sitting at the table eating a bowl of grapes and berries and watching fat English sparrows pecking at the seed pods of my neighbor’s 20-foot tall Mexican dahlias.  A humming bird is perched on one of the high, bare branches, green and iridescent with a scarlet throat–a male Anna’s, I think.  He darts away when the sparrows approach.

I met my father in meditation this morning.  No, no, not a ghost, but usually when I think of him, it’s in an abstract way, remembering something he said or something we did together.  This time, he was right there–the sweet smell of his pipe, the feel of his worn  brown flannel shirt, the crinkles around his eyes when he smiled.  This is a man who died more than 30 years ago, and I felt such keen sorrow it could’ve been yesterday.  It was strange and unsettling and kind of great.

When I’m not too distracted, meditation seems to open up places in my mind and heart that aren’t normally available to me.  Even when it doesn’t, I feel restored by it, but when it does, I have such profound gratitude for the experience–and for sobriety, which makes it possible.  I was so busy trying not to admit I was drinking too much, there’s no way I could’ve let my mind wander to those places.

It’s one of the big problems with trying to hide something from yourself, that rigid walling off of certain areas your mind isn’t allowed to visit.  In fact now, when I get one of those don’t-go-there red alerts, it’s almost a guarantee of something I need to deal with, something that’s keeping me off-balance and making me want to numb.

It’s taken awhile to get here.  The first year, it was all about just staying sober and learning about the condition we call alcoholism.  The second year, staying sober was easier, but there still was a feeling of something missing, a loss, a hole to fill. Lately though–it’ll be three and a half years later this month, something’s changed, I feel calmer, less anguished, less needy.  I can contemplate the prospect of sober-for-life without feeling stabs of regret and deprivation.  Long may it last!

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