Time to let go

Five-hundred and Eighteen days ago I took my last drink. In two days I will have been sober for seventeen months. I quickly learned that if I was to remain sober I was going to have to place my sobriety above everything else in my life. For a long time, that was enough. I let go of my old life and embraced the new. Remaining sober became my full time job. For well over a year I immersed myself in thoughts of recovery from addiction; going to meetings, working steps and helping others who were struggling.

Recently I’ve been asking myself if there is more to life than this. With all that I have been through the answer is clearly, “yes”. But what do I want to make of my life? As I pull away from thoughts of sobriety my mind quickly turns to drinking. As I try to envision my future it is impossible to see one that doesn’t involve alcohol. It’s not the hopeless, drunken vision of the future that I had when I quit but neither is it a future firmly rooted in sobriety.

Of course the future is unknown. So far I have been unable to get myself to take that first drink. My visions are but delusions based only on what I have experienced. Not since I was twelve have I experienced such continuous sobriety. I find myself surrounded by uncharted waters. While there are those who have been here before me, I am not interested in following anyone else’s path. All I can do is take what I have learned and blaze my own trail.

Still, that’s an amazingly scary proposition. There is a commonly heard phrase in AA that goes, “the first thing you put ahead of your sobriety will be the second thing that you lose.” The lesson is that if we fail to make sobriety our top priority that we will lose it and with it everything that we have worked for.  These are sage words indeed. Many have tested this premise and found it sound in reasoning. But I live a spiritual life, guided by reason perhaps, but propelled by passion. I find that whatever I hold most dear winds up controlling me. It is that attachment which becomes the burden and the source of my suffering. It is time for me to let of sobriety with the same courage with which I let go of the drink. In essence, I am putting my sobriety in God’s hands.

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When you lack focus, use a wide lens

I was talking with my friend Phil Solem the other day. He is one half of the band The Rembrandts; best known for the song, “I’ll Be There For You”, the theme song from the NBC sitcom, Friends. He asked me how things were going with my music. Most people know me as the bass player for All The Pretty Horses (if they even know that) so I’m always flattered when someone asks about my music. I’m also embarrassed because there is not a lot to say. I have a collection of songs that I’ve written going back thirty years. Most have never even been played live, even for friends, and none have been recorded for release. I told Phil, “I just wrote my first song in over a year but I still haven’t done anything with any of them. It takes time and focus. I guess I have the time, I just lack focus.” His response was, “Then use a wide lens.” Initially I was confused as to why he was talking photography when I was talking songwriting but after some time to ponder his words I’ve decided that it may be the best advice I’ve ever received. I’m still not sure exactly what he meant but the best advice is open to interpretation. I have a feeling I know where he is coming from though. I know a number of musicians who have “made it” in the music business and I know what it takes to sustain that kind of success. It takes complete focus and dedication. You wind up missing out on many of the other things that life has to offer. It’s easy to lose the big picture. From what I can tell, most people are happier after their life “under the microscope” is over. I have felt pretty unfocused lately but perhaps that is not a bad thing. Being productive requires focus but to gain perspective you need a wide lens. I have been going through somewhat of a wide lens period. As a result I’m still working on this post that I started a week ago. You may have noticed that I’m not posting as often these days. I actually have a number of thoughts knocking around in my head but they don’t actually produce anything up there. I still need focus for that. I began to feel like I had lost my way but maybe all I  lost was my focus. I used to have a family and that was my focus. I used to have a best friend and she was my focus. I used to have a job and that was my focus. I used to have a band that rehearsed regularly and it was my focus. Over that past year all of these things have gone through dramatic changes. In order to find my place in the world again I needed a wide lens. I am on a path of discovery and what I’m discovering is that this is my path. All of these other things that I do are merely tools I use to help me understand the path. I thought that music was my path. I thought that this blog was my path. I thought that my friends were my path. I thought that my kids were my path. I thought my job was my path. All of them are important and I don’t want to understate that in any way. I would be nowhere without them but my path is not what I do. It is who I am and I’m still trying to discover what that is.

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