When I was young, I played little league baseball. It was an activity that helped me learn to be part of a team. Part of something bigger than myself.
It was also an activity that taught me in no uncertain terms that I was / am not a gifted athlete! After my first season of play, it was apparent that my brother John had been given all the baseball genes in the family. My fielding was bad, but my batting was terrible!
There were things I enjoyed about my little league experience. Mom and Dad would sometimes treat our team to ice cream after games. That was good. There was a concession stand with sweet treats. That too was good. Then there was the end of season party. Very good!
The party was like a field day at the ball park where we played. Plenty of food and activities for the children. It was a great opportunity for everyone to celebrate the completion of another hot season of baseball.
The grand finale of each year’s field day party was a greased pig contest. A small pig, not much bigger than a football, would be slathered in grease, and then set free in the outfield. Then, someone would say “go” and a hundred or so little boys would take off, chasing that pig. In retrospect, the whole thing seems rather cruel and barbaric.
It was always amazing to see how fast a properly motivated pig can run. It would scurry our in front of the pack of us boys, just out of reach. It’s a wonder that none of us was seriously injured it there trampling over each other in pursuit of glory.
Eventually, that poor pig would run out of energy. Slowing down, it would find itself surrounded by boys. That was when the grease came in handy. Just about the time one of the boys thought his hold on the pig was sure, it would wiggle free, leaving its would-be captor covered in grease.
Finally, after both the pig and the boys were exhausted, enough of the grease had transferred fro the pig to various boys to allow someone a firm grip on the poor animal. The victor would stand, prize cradled in his arms, grinning from ear to ear. Another greased pig contest champion had risen among us.
Then it happened. The question was finally asked by all who were there. “Now what?” In our enthusiastic pursuit of glory, we had missed this obvious and vital question. After all, it’s one thing to catch a grease pig, but keeping it is a whole different matter.
The answer was always the same. The pig would be handed back over to the farmer who had generously provided the poor animal for our entertainment. In that instant, life for the victor became normal once again. Well, except that he was covered in a mixture of grease and manure. Wouldn’t that be a fun car ride home!
It’s been my experience that recovery through the Narcotics Anonymous program is similar to those greased pig contests of my youth. Go to any crowded meeting in the fellowship and take a good look around. Take in the faces and the names.
Now, fast forward to that same meeting a year later. Sure, some of the names and faces from last year will still be there. Sadly though, most of the faces and names will have changed. The sad truth is that so many of us who begin recovery chock full of enthusiasm and determination will fall to the wayside. So close to “catching that pig,” people will leave the rooms and go back out for more.
There can be any number of reasons that so many fall away over time. It is my personal belief that two simple words cause most to leave. “Now what?” For the recovering addict, getting clean can be like winning a greased pig contest. When the thrill of the chase has gone, and the accolades have faded, each of us is faced once again with life.
It is often said in meetings that we do not want to give up before the miracle happens. The miracle for me was not getting clean. Nor was it found in losing the desire to use drugs. The miracle has been found in discovering a new way to live. It has been found by applying spiritual principles to my life.
This new way to live is the answer to the “Now what?” question. It is an answer that reminds the recovering addict that the work has just begun, and that it’s a life-long process. It’s the answer that reminds me of just how much it took to catch this greased pig, and I will not let it go!
Have a remarkable day!