Wednesday, September 2, 2009

They give out chips, and I like to count.

It's always amazing to watch people have just one drink. I had dinner with my girlfriend's parents for the first time and her father drank one beer. As a little boy, my legs would get tired from carrying beer for my father.

And I remember sitting in clubs, waiting for dad to get done with a meeting. I remember eating watermelon one day, and people were watching us. As my sister methodically picked seed after seed, they said, "Oh, She's an Al-anon."

As I buried my teeth to the rind, sucking the taste out of the green, they never said anything about me. Never even knew they were saving me a seat.

Cunning and baffling as this condition can be, it's always surprising to find my conviction sway: I am an alcoholic; I am not an alcoholic.

I think everyone is a little or a lot of something, and I see the range between Al-anon and Alcoholic. Some people are completely balanced and walk right down the middle. They require very little maintenance. Then there are people like my sister and me, the children of one alcoholic and one addict. At any time, one of us is too far right or to far left. We need programs.

I find my program in the fellowship of people who share my story. The similarities are uncanny among garden variety drunks. Some of us have been thrown out of country clubs, squats, or temples- but we've all been thrown out and we never knew why anyone would to throw wonderful people like ourselves into the streets.

There's something wonderful that transpires in a meeting, something that is effacing and inspiring at the same time. It's only been nine months, but my life has changed.

When I walked into the Zen temple 2 years ago, of course, I wanted peace. My teacher looked me in the eye and said, "If you're looking for peace, I hope you brought some with you." He explained that the way wouldn't solve all my problems, but that sitting Zazen everyday sure would bring them up, like a pot of boiling water. I think I've been boiling a little.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You say a lot in few words. I got cast as an al-anon and increasingly my very existence disturbed my family, all alcoholics, none admitting it. But there was a lot of alcohol in my youth, and a lot of drinking along in adulthood until a breakdown and medication forced me to stop. I was never tempted to drink alone, but I still sometimes miss the glamorous moments. The illusion that something bright and wonderful was about to happen to me in the revolving lounge above the city.

    You write very well. Does the title of this post refer to something?