Becoming an Island
Shantideva wrote the following:
May I become an island for those seeking dry land
A lamp for those needing light,
A place of rest for those who desire one,
And a servant for those needing service.
And I think about recovery. I mean, this is what we do for each other. We become an island, “dry” land for those who are seeking, not those who want dry land, or need dry land. But those who seek it.
We are the light out of the fog of alcoholism. We are the beacon to another path, a different life. We are another source, when it seems that all sources only led to drink.
We allow those who land on our island of sobriety to rest. To find a new life, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Regardless, we provide rest and respite for those who desire one. The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking, not actually stopping. Important distinction. Of course, no true recovery can or will happen until one puts down the drink, but you can make a beginning even while you still imbibe. You can begin a new life, just by wishing to stop drinking. In fact, that more than anything else, has to come first. You have to foster and grow a desire for another way of life. That seemingly has to come before one actually stops...
And recovery is about service. It is about giving it all away in order to be able to keep it for yourself. If you don’t serve, you likely will drink again. It isn’t a threat, it is just fact. Those who remain selfishly engrossed in their own pain, lives, lies, and self importance, will always and forever be short sighted in their mission. It isn’t about us, we are the problem, and only when we attempt to become part of the solution, can we, will we be of real use to anyone else.
“Anyone needing service” is also key because we don’t decide based on worthiness, or even desire. It is available to all, regardless of anything else. Anyone who needs service, can and will get help. I love that. We don’t shoot our wounded, we help them out of the mire of alcoholism and drug addiction. We show up for them and help. Sometimes that is letting them sleep on our couch, sometimes that is being somewhat harsh with the truth. Sometimes, it is sitting next to them for hours pouring over the wreckage of their lives. Regardless, we sit, we show up, we serve.
The island I have become as a result of my recovery has been somewhat solitary, embarrassingly so over the past few years. I have been admittedly overwhelmed by life’s circumstances and the realities of single motherhood and more than full-time work. But I have always remained willing. I have said yes when I wanted to say no. I have showed up when I was tired and stressed and really didn’t want to. I have done this over and over again to the best of my ability because I love the effect produced by all of the above. I love the life I have been given by recovery.
And I truly, madly, deeply want to give that to another. I care not upon whom recovery falls. I care only that it is available to them when they seek. I care not how long it lasts, though I am always hoping for their lifetime. I know that walking with the sunlight of the spirit for any length of time is better than never walking it at all.
I live to serve. In fact, I live because I serve. Should I say “fuck service” I will perish. I cannot keep this thing that I have been given unless I give it all away to anyone who seeks it from me. It is the only way I can keep it. It is the only way I can remain steadfastly fastened to the life I have today. I must show up, learn, grow, and serve others, lest I will succumb again to the idea that perhaps, maybe, this time it will be different.
But like many islands, I am not alone and adrift. I am connected underneath by a vast and enormous attachment to others. The land may appear from the surface to be distinct and separate...but it is not. I am connected to my like minded fellows wherever I go, where I am and always when I need it. There is this deeply rooted connection of love and earth that joins us together, not so much if viewed from the surface but deep within the substructure of our lives.
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface, but connected in the deep.”
And that for me is recovery, I am never separate because I am always joined deep in my roots to this amazing world of recovery. I only appear at times to be an island adrift. In fact, I am deeply connected below the surface to all that I have come to know, believe and love in this fellowship. I live to serve other similarly situated, and I serve to live because the only way I get another day, is to give away what I so freely be given.
It is my greatest blessing and burden. And I love them both...and am humbled by my gratitude for the life I have, love and relish today. And I shall walk on, every day, with the willingness to serve others by providing dry land, light for those mired in the darkness, rest for those wrung out by their lives and a servant to those who are in need. It is my passion, my duty and my honor...one day at a time.