I'd like to share with you a few things about the Blokes, a skiing fellowship made up of men who met each other in Narcotics Anonymous and are still in recovery. Our short-timer has (I think) six or seven years clean, and our old-timer has thirty-five years clean. Three times a season we rent a house, move in for five days, and proceed to ski at Sunday River Ski Resort until our knees cry for mercy.
Two of our members are chef-grade cooks, and the remainder are competent eaters and dishwashers. When we aren't skiing or eating, we talk as friends talk: New toys, relationships, recipes, sponsee issues, cars, movies, work, and so on. Every night we have a very special unofficial NA meeting.
I love these men, and have learned a lot from them. I learned I have real value, that other men can love me for who I am, and that I can return that love. One of my friends in particular has taken on the task of keeping me on the slopes. As the years have passed and getting around has gotten a little more difficult for me, my friend Bob carries my skis, helps me on with my Boot Gloves (which he calls "boot condoms"), and he skis with me, which is something of a sacrifice on his part. Bob is an expert skier, and I might do a black diamond trail on a good day and a double on a really good day, but mostly all I'm fit for are the greens and blues (easy and intermediate trails for those of you who do not partake).
My other friends also haul skis, my boot bag, and this last time actually pushed me up a slope I was having trouble getting up.
If I hadn't gotten clean in Narcotics Anonymous, kept going to meetings, took up skiing, and grown in the program into a responsible, almost sane, human being, I never would have met Bob nor any of the other Blokes who I value so much.
We share good humor, and Bob laughs when in a crowded ski lodge I'm ready to have him help me put on my boot gloves, I loudly yell, "Condom valet!"
And when any of the Blokes and I share this love we have of carving those turns on good snow, the rush of the wind on our faces and gravity tugging at us as we dance with the mountain, I am in a present-moment wonderland that literally fills my heart.
Last Saturday night at our meeting, we talked about a few years ago when a loving valued friend and fellow Bloke died of liver cancer, and how we almost doubted the continued existence of the Blokes. It did seem, just for a moment, that going on with the organization would be a hollow experience, that without Uncle Jimmy, it would simply be too painful.
We still mourn Uncle Jimmy's passing, but the Blokes continue. In a very real sense Uncle Jimmy is still alive in our hearts for those who knew him, and for the newcomers, they will hear the stories. Like the Viking sagas, we tell the legends of the heroes past and present in the long house, emulate the qualities that made them heroes, and identify with and chuckle at the foibles that made them human.
The Blokes is a friendship and fellowship society more than a skiing club. It is more than any one of us could dream of as active addicts. The Blokes and my friends in the Blokes are but a few of my gifts from recovery.
The gifts and possibilities are endless. What can you do with your recovery? What will you do?