This afternoon, I drove over to God’s country to visit our pond. I hadn’t been in months and was eager to see how the fish were doing and if the water level was still low after a mostly dry summer. I parked my car by the dock and got out to stretch and light up a cigar. An egret was peacefully wading in the shallows looking for a meal of small fish. A lone hawk circled overhead aimlessly on the warm updrafts of the spring-like day. I deeply breathed in the country air feeling one with my surroundings.
I stayed for quite some time walking through the woods my family owns until I came to the gulley created by the stream that runs off the pond down through the piney woods. It is a perfect spot to look for arrowheads as the soil is carried away and the heaviest detritus remains. I ambled about carefully studying the stones below me until one peculiar piece of quartz caught my eye. I reached down to pick it up and to brush off the dirt. It was a broken arrowhead and a solemn reminder of all the many indigenous people who once lived upon this land near this source of fresh water. The white man came and chased them all off to reservations and decimated them with diseases. A white man, my father, now owns this land and that ownership would have been unthinkable to the Indians until we arrived and changed their whole way of thinking and living.
I pocketed the broken arrow as a reminder of my journey today and looked at my watch as the shadows cast by the trees in the woods drew very long. The sun was setting and I had a date with my fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. I trudged back up through the woods, up the steep dam of the pond, and back to my car. I drove home listening to the radio while I smoked one cigar after another till my throat was dry and a thirst had overcome me.
Once home, I took a shower and headed to my meeting. Very few showed up tonight on a Saturday evening meaning most likely I would have to speak. I didn’t get nervous though. One elderly lady sat and talked to me about her many cats and I nodded my head many times letting her know I was paying attention and following the conversation. Her likable demeanor disarmed my usual wary nature when making the dreaded small talk.
“My cocoa loves to lie upon my chest as I sleep,” She said flightily. “Isn’t your name William?”
“Andrew,” I replied as I smiled.
“Andrew, what a nice name,” She said wistfully.
“Everyone ready for a meeting?” Rang out from the front of the room ending me and the little old ladies conversation.
I was asked to read the twelve traditions which I did and soon the floor was opened for us to talk about alcoholism.
“Hi, I am Kim and I am alcoholic,” One young lady said.
There was a short pause as all in the room turned their attention to her.
“I am sober and yet I am still miserable,” She said. “I have been sober going on three months.”
She certainly didn’t fit the stereotype of being what I thought alcoholics should look like. She had a stunning look of that of some model out of a fashion magazine. I looked on mesmerized as she talked.
“Nobody likes me and I don’t have any friends,” She says. “The old timers say. ‘This too shall pass,’ but this time I don’t know. I am at my wit’s end.”
She went on to talk for fifteen minutes about what ails her. She finished and everyone in the room told her to “keep coming back” and “thanks for sharing.” The heavy weight bearing down upon her soul seemed to have been lifted by her giving her problems to the group. She was laughing jovially and drinking coffee after the meeting. I smiled as I quietly snuck out the backdoor after experiencing the magic of these “hallowed halls” as Dumpster Diving Dan once called them.
I drove home thinking about how this disease, alcoholism, doesn’t discriminate nor life for that matter. We all have problems, wants, desires, and fears. The hard part for alcoholics is learning to deal with them without getting pitifully drunk and compounding our problems. “Living life on life’s terms,” I said aloud as I passed the little elementary school I attended as a child in this small town echoing what I had heard someone say at tonight’s meeting. What a novel concept: Living life on life’s terms.