As I drive down Maryland Route 140 from Westminster toward I795, the sun sets in the rear-view mirror. For years I tried to let the sun set on my youth. I felt out of step with the world growing up in rural Maryland. And in a lot of ways, I was out of step with the world. But now, I’m finding that venturing back to where I grew up is not as painful as I might have imagined it.
I’ve just had an amazing reunion with a very special teacher, one who saw something in me and helped me set my life on a better path in high school. Through the miracles of technology, we have been reunited and have kept up with each other over the past 8 years or so. We met one other time, before I went off the rails.
I shared my story with Mary. We talked about the opiate epidemic, and how it’s still in the shadows before our very eyes. We talked about family, my son, and what he’s into. Of course, we talked about politics and world affairs as well, because we’re both junkies for that kind of stuff.
This was a real conversation. This was solid connection.
During my drinking days, I did not have many real conversations or solid connections. I longed for them. There were times when I thought, why can’t we ever talk about anything real? Why is everything so artificial and false. Of course the answer lies in the anesthetization of feelings.
It’s not possible to have conversations full of conviction when you can’t feel the world around you.
On the drive home my heart was filled with joy. This was the second time in less than a week that I’d had such an great conversation with an old friend. It occurred to me, that this was a gift of my sobriety, and so (of course) I tweeted that.
In Buddhist traditions a recognition of how important connection and community exists in the term Sangha, which is often translated as spiritual community. We take refuge in our Sangha.
I’m learning that I have many places and people who make up my Sangha. Friends from the past. Friends from the present. Family. My AA groups. The recovery community on twitter. All these people and places create a sense of refuge.
By taking refuge, I am made stronger in my sobriety. And for that, I’m truly grateful.