I am fortunate to have the honor to spend time with a friend that has been living the principles of recovery for nearly 50 years. He has been sober for as long as I have been alive. We usually have lunch together on Thursday. This week we discussed two issues that I have decided to write about. The first I will call HOPE. I could write for days on hope it is a topic with several subtopics. The hope I am addressing is the ongoing hope for a better future that is essential for lasting recovery.
I had a friend I will call him Pat. Pat had some anger issues however for all intents and purposes Pat seemed to have everything he wanted in life. I remember talking to him about his life. He was fifty plus years of age, sober for years and he worked as an ironworker for the city of New York. He had cars, a motorcycle, a home, money saved, meticulously groomed, a young girl friend and more. He was open about it and would tell me how good he had it. His job was a cushion job. He was a Union Iron Worker for NYC civil service. He loved the job, it was a piece of cake compared to his Union brothers in the same field that worked for contractors.
I did not see Pat for quite awhile and one day I ran into him at the bakery. He looked terrible. He had gained at least 50 lbs and he looked like his blood pressure was high! He said that he had a problem on the job and the City no longer required his services. He was back working the Bridges with his Union brothers. He said it was torturous for him. He was extremely angry, bitter, resentful and negative. A couple of years later I heard Pat had died, miserably.
How does that happen? A guy that seems to have everything he could ever want. He was outspoken about how good his life was. Yet a few years later he is dead! Drinking and drugging had robbed his dignity, again. He died a painful, lonely, horrendous death.
The “crack-pot functionalists” looking at this would say, “I bet he stopped going to meetings!” That is a natural thought. But it was a bi-product of the damage that Pat had already done to himself. Pat set himself up for this very early in his recovery. In the lp “The Strangest Secret” one of the very first recordings on the “Law of Attraction”, Earl Nightingale states that the challenge with mankind is they conform. They accept their lot in life. They fail to think and strive.
Why do people think this way? I recently read a book by Andy Stanley, “It Came From Within”. Andy points out that it is a challenge with the heart that creates the thinking that we should stop striving to become more. Pats goal was to enjoy his life, save for early retirement and then sit on his ass and do nothing! His words not mine. Striving for more is not about money. Striving for more is about impact. We are all called to be somebody to do something special.
Sure acceptance is key to recovery and sanity. However, giving up is not acceptance. My friend Jack is sober 48 years and continues to have goals and dreams. People that do not have direction will ultimately pay the price. I am not against retirement or enjoying the fruits of your labor. I am pro-active. Hope is not unattainable wishes or crazy dreams. Hope is essential for life, abundant life. Recovery requires it. Spirituality requires it. Humanity requires it. In our outline for life we will be amazed before we are half way through… A New Freedom.