A blue morning, wispy clouds streaked across the sky, trees barely moving in this perpetually windy city. A humming bird with an iridescent green back perches precariously on the tall bare branches of the Mexican dahlias, its throat flashing scarlet in the sun. Ravens are circling and awking overhead, and a young mocking bird is pecking at seedpods, looking huge after the humming bird.
I’m sitting here with a blue and white mug of coffee and the last crumbs of a cranberry walnut scone I made yesterday. I had fresh cranberries left over from the holidays instead of the dried ones, and searched for a recipe that told me how to adjust for the sourness of fresh. The one I found had egg in it–a mistake. They taste like overly sweet cakey muffins, not the firm and hefty texture of Alice Waters’ cream scones. I’m too frugal to toss them, but I’ll toss the recipe. I should’ve just followed my instincts and added a little extra sugar to the usual mix. Trust thyself or pay the price.
That whole thing of trusting authority has been on my mind lately, perhaps because I’ve been reading Steig Larsson, whose heroine, Lisbeth, learned early in life the authorities could not be relied on to protect her interests. In fact, they could be relied on not to. She was probably better equipped for the world than most of us. I was taught the opposite: people in authority were to be trusted. The teacher, the preacher, the government, the police–all were people/institutions you turned to for help. If you followed the rules, they would help you; if you didn’t and got into trouble, it was your own fault. The politics of the sixties and seventies pretty much disabused me of those ideas, but changing a reflexive response to authority from obedience to questioning or outright refusal is much harder.
I think about this for those of us in recovery, where part of the challenge is learning to trust yourself again, discovering you do have the strength to resist cravings, to step out of the mainstream where alcohol accompanies every occasion, to choose seltzer when everyone around you is drinking champagne. So many of us who’ve slid into alcoholism devalued ourselves, and the alcoholism only added to it. Sobriety is a second chance at self-respect. Whatever else we’ve done or failed to do, we’ve quit drinking. It’s bedrock to build on.