The Great Search

January 14, 2010

I know I said I wouldn’t be posting cute photos and the like, but this one serves a purpose.

I received this photo along with a collection of funny animal photos in one of those silly forwards people email around.  The image has been repeatedly popping into my head lately, as I settle down with the thought of never drinking again.

I feel like my search for peace, and especially interpersonal connection, is like this little boy with his birds.  I see my drinking as that desperate seeking outside of the self for the answer, that need to place a substance in my body in order to feel able to comfortably communicate and interact socially, and especially romantically.  When, ultimately, the “answer” lies no where but right here, right now, so close it could crap on me… so to speak.

Connection with others always seems to be what makes me happiest.  Unfortunately, for many years, and for numerous reasons, it seemed I was scared to do so without alcohol.  Especially once I was out in the “real world,” without the established social structures of a college campus, I struggled a great deal with trying to make friends, even in the casts of projects I was working on, without liquid aid.

I know I’m not unique – they don’t call it social lubricant for nothing.  And I still struggle in my sobriety sometimes to ease my way into conversation.  But ultimately, the answer isn’t in the glass. The answer is continuing to work on becoming more and more comfortable with myself, with precisely who I am at this moment and no other, that will facilitate that connection with others.

I had a remarkable experience on the subway the other day.  I was a little irritated to be on the subway at that particular time of night – I had wound up at a party in Chelsea I didn’t really want to be at, and getting home that late having had no dinner made me grumpy.  I sat reading my Yoga Anatomy book (nerd), when two guys came onto the F singing This Little Light of Mine. You know the guys.  I smiled as they passed, but only had one large bill in my wallet and no change, so I couldn’t give them anything.  They stopped in front of me, waiting for the next station, and one of them pointed out my book.

“You study that?” he asked.  “That’ll keep you limber for a long time.”

“Do you practice?” I asked. He looked weathered, but in good shape.

“I used to. And marital arts. Then I had a injury. But it’s a good thing to do.”

“It’s already done a great deal of good for me,” I said.

He looked at me then for a moment and said one of the most beautiful things anyone’s ever said to me: “You know, you got melody in your voice.  You sing?”

I was taken aback. “I do.”  He looked at me again for a beat.  “I think the world is waitin’ on you. I really do.”

“Yeah… I think so, too.”   I apologized for not having anything for him that night, and told him how joyful I found his singing.  He said my smile was all that mattered, and with that they were gone.

I kind of couldn’t believe the conversation had occurred, I was so in awe of the exchange.  I mean, obviously my ego was fed, but it was more than that. It was the honesty and straightforward interaction of this potentially homeless man, and the honesty and straightforward interaction he elicited in me.  I got off the train feeling an intense warmth and pressure in my chest, a lifting. Believe me, I know it sounds trite. But it was one of the more remarkable experiences I’ve had.

Happiness is right here, not anywhere else, in the ability to connect with another person from an unpretentious, unprotected place.  And when I’m alone, it’s in the ability to connect with myself – to listen hard, and accept exactly what is right now.

As usual, easier said than done. But I’m really enjoying, for the most part, having a direct experience with life instead of placing a bottle in between.  Even when it does crap on my head…


One comment

  1. Wow, what a great interaction with a stranger! And on the subway no less.

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