Friday, May 18, 2012


A thing I realized after passing my 70th birthday is that I had reached some kind of universal cutoff point. When one is 69 years old and dies, everyone says: "Aw, he was so young!" If you die at 70, though, what they say is: "Well, he didn't have a great run, but it wasn't bad."

When he would be in a bunch of recovering addicts who were pissing and moaning about aches, pains, medical problems and all the crap associated with aging, my late sponsor used to grin and remind them all, "Hey, remember, we aren't even supposed to be here." When you take an addict and add the addict to recovery, the best you can hope for is a recovering addict who is getting older and older. The resultant old addicts are something new on the scene. In the past, addicts never had to worry about getting old.

This is the gift of life; A gift, incidentally, for which those in Twelve Step programs have to work their asses off to receive and maintain. The disease never sleeps, though. Instead of being grateful for still being alive, the disease wants us to look for the flaws in our lives. Got a new medical problem? A bad back? Chronic cough? Allergies? Hair falling out? You can't get it to comb right? Those tacos turning into muffin tops, then into beach balls?

"Don't stop there," urges the dragon. "What about the economic picture? Unemployment? Monetary inflation? Debt? What about politics?"

It doesn't take a lot of effort to feel like crap. The disease will do all the work for you. For the recovering addict, however, gratitude needs to be earned. The work one needs to do is incredibly burdensome. Can you take a piece of paper and write down five things for which you are grateful? No?  Look again.

Is there anyone you love still alive?
Do you have any fond memories about anything?
Could you feed yourself this morning?
Are you able to dress yourself, wipe your own ass?
Are there any musical artists whose work you like?
Any movies, plays, books, paintings?
Do you have any friends ? (and if your answer to this one is "no," get your ass to a meeting and begin making some friends.)

The disease wants to find that single fly speck on that huge, lovely clean wall, and focus on it until that fly speck fills your universe. The antidote is gratitude: reminding yourself of all the parts of that wall free of that fly speck.

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