In 1968, Stanley Kubrick produced and directed the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. I can still remember going to see this movie when it was first released. My parents, John, and I watched the movie together, each of us enthralled by its depiction of what life would be like in the year 2001.
Back then, 2001 seemed like a year that would never come. It was so far in the future of this little boy that it seemed impossible that some day I would actually live to see it. Shoot, I’d be old by then… I’d be 40!
It wasn’t just the fact that it would be the start of a new millennium. It was also the promise of so much technological advancement. The kind that Stanley Kubrick had predicted in his movie.
PanAm Airlines would be flying passengers into outer space. Regular people would live and work on space colonies. Men would all be wearing Naru jackets, and women would all wear spandex jumpsuits. Best of all, telephones would not just offer audio, but also video, allowing people to see each other as they spoke across long distances.
Yes, Kubrick’s 2001 predicted an amazing era of advancements most if us could not conjure in our wildest dreams.
Reality, though, proved to be quite different. PanAm went belly-up well before the new millennium, declaring bankruptcy and having its global assets liquidated and sold for pennies on the dollar. The Naru jacket never really caught on in the US, nor anywhere else for that matter. As for women’s fashion, Kubrick once again missed the mark.
Most disappointing to me was the lack of video phones at the turn of the century. I had so looked forward to seeing my friends and family on the other end of the line as we visited over the phone.
Well, his timing may have been a little off, but Kubrick’s prediction of video calls has come true. Today there are several options when I phone home that allow for video calls. I use Skype for business video. Facebook Messenger for personal calls. Even my iPhone and iPads offer FaceTime. So many options.
Most nights I am traveling, Amanda and I will video chat at least once. Last night, it was even more. Amanda video called me from a store to help her pick an outfit for Shaun. Then later, the two of them called me.
We didn’t just catch up on our day. We also played for a good little while with the video filters. So much laughter and pure joy came from that time spent together. Our love for each other somehow transmitted through the internet connection, and made visible as we talked, made goofy faces, and laughed together.
When the call ended, the miles that separated us seemed a little shorter. Our connection with each other was a bit stronger. Our spirits a little brighter.
After seeing that movie as a little boy, I had such high hopes and expectations for the future. In my innocent mind, the fact that these things had been seen in a movie meant they must be true. That would be the future.
When I first entered the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, my vision of my future in recovery was filled with similar hopes and expectations. In my mind, I would be the model of the NA message. Kent would stop using drugs. Kent would lose the desire to use. Kent would find a new way to live, and he would do it NOW!
In my innocent mind, all of these things would be easy. I would look around the room at any meeting, telling myself that if all these people could do it, I certainly could. In fact, I would not only match their accomplishments in recovery, I would exceed them. I would become an NA rock star. Oh how folks would marvel at my accomplishments.
Yeah, right Kent…
It didn’t take long for me to realize that my grandiose plans for the future were pure fantasy. In fact, those first months turned out so differently than my visions had predicted. Reality was so much more challenging than fantasy had predicted.
This NA rock star kept falling. Kept relapsing. Kept getting into petty arguments. Alienated others. Became frustrated, at times, to the point of wanting to walk away. Kent’s bright future in recovery seemed to be fading fast.
The thing that finally got my attention, and gave me some hope for the future was love. The love I experienced in the rooms encouraged me to keep coming back. The love Amanda demonstrated to me during these dark times served as a constant reminder of hope for my recovery.
As time has gone on, and I’ve worked through most of the steps, I’ve realized a couple things about those early visions of my future. First and foremost, they were self-centered. I was at the center of them all. In my mind, recovery would be a me program, not a we program.
Also, these plans for recovery were all about my will. I didn’t have room in my grandiose plan for God’s will. It was all about what I wanted.
Finally, I had to come to realize that these plans didn’t include any actual work. I wanted what others in recovery had, but I didn’t want to work for it. Instead, I tried finding shortcuts. Perhaps I could reason my way into recovery. Purchase peace of mind by giving more money at various NA fundraisers.
When old timers would joke about people being upset about the results they were not getting from the work they were not doing, I would scoff. I knew better. I would game the system. After all, that was my plan.
I’m so thankful that my plan failed. I’m thankful that I have had to do the same work that others before me have done. Thankful that I began seeking God’s will rather than my own. His will, His dream for my life, it turns out, is so much bigger and better than any I had for myself.
Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey missed the mark on a lot of things, just like my vision of recovery did. Reality, though, has turned out to be so much better than fantasy. Still, I am glad those video phones came into being. I’ve learned to love and laugh again, even in a hotel so far away from family and friends.
Have a remarkable day!