I have mentioned before, I believe, that stumbling my way into, first, a meditation practice and second, a Zen practice has been a cornerstone in my recovery. As I transition into doing a few less meetings and a few more hours on the cushion, I am struck again and again by the similarities between many Buddhist principles and much of what is espoused in the better AA meetings.
Today, that happened again.
I get a daily email from Triangle magazine, a quote from an online article (which I often end up reading). Today’s was:
Why become enlightened? This is a question I sometimes ask myself. The answer I give is twofold: to make the world a better place and to avoid the pain of clinging to an existence that is unhappy.
Swap out “become enlightened” with “stop drinking.” See what I mean?
I am mortified that it has taken me so long to get back here. Part, maybe most, of the reason is that my life has been so good – lots of writing, traveling, enjoying family and nature and the world. Diving deeper into a Zen practice that is changing everything. See clearly a lot more often. All without drinking, something I would not have thought possible two years ago. This is beyond the pink cloud effect of the first few months (that is, after the tar-black-and-hailing-dog-poop cloud effect of the first few weeks). It’s a whole new world. Not “life without alcohol.” Just life.
And a life I didn’t even know was there before: full of good nights’ sleeps and hard laughs with friends and family and good decisions. Times can still be hard sometimes, grief happens, injustice doesn’t disappear, but everything sits easier. And there are so many clear sunrises, starry nights, and evening mists to enjoy along the way.
It was always there, always available to me, but I missed it, because I was focused on nailing down that first (then second then third) drink. Maybe I drank because I was scared it wasn’t there. That that first sip of white wine in the evening was the best anything ever would be, and if I gave that up, then I would have nothing, or worse than nothing – the constant craving, headaches, nausea, bloating, and ill temper that marked most of my drinking days.
Well I was wrong. And that’s why I really will try to post more often. Because those of you just starting to quit, or trying to get up the nerve to quit, or planning a relapse need to hear this.
No matter how bad your life is right now, stopping drinking will make it better. Guaranteed. It will also probably make it great.