Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Surrender and The Riverside Boxer

On Saturday I took a long hard ride on my bicycle. I had a lot of pent up frustration and emotional baggage that needed to be dealt with. What better way to do it than on the saddle of my road bike?

For me, cycling transcends mere exercise. It jumps past a physical activity, crossing over into a realm in which I can clear my thoughts, cleanse my mind, and recharge my spirit. It builds me back up after feeling like the world has tried to break me down.

Along the Riverside Bike Path here in Tulsa, there is a spot where an older gentleman can often be seen shadow boxing. He always has a bottle of Gatorade sitting on the pavement behind him. A jump rope is always in his hands. Shirt off, he stands throwing punches in the air. From the look on his face, one would think that his fight is real. That each and every punch matters. That he is fighting for his life.

The Riverside Boxer is a fixture along the bike path. Whether he is there or not, each time I ride past the little monument where he can be found, I think of him. I think of his dedication to the battle he fights. I wonder what drives him to throw those punches.

It’s easy to see hI’m and write him off. As one cyclist after another rides past him, I’m sure many if not most will wonder why this “crazy old man” is out there throwing punches.

On the other hand, he probably looks at all of us and giggles a little at our spandex outfits. Let’s face it, cycling kits, as they are called (I only recently learned of their proper name), are pretty goofy looking!

On Saturday, the Riverside Boxer was not there. Regardless, as I road past his station, my mind began to compose a short poem in his honor.

The Riverside Boxer

In the shadow of an eagle he stands,

Throwing punches in the air,

Jump rope handle in each hand,

Battling demons that are not there.

The Riverside Boxer shows up most days,

Fighting demons no one else can see,

People see him punching the air,

Some laugh, some scoff, but most pay him no mind.

The Riverside Boxer,

So misunderstood,

The Riverside Boxer,

He could be me.

I don’t know whether it’s a finished work, or if I’ll add to it at some time. I’m not even sure why I wrote the words down. It just seemed like a good reminder to myself that all of us have our unique and personal ways of living life, and dealing with life’s ups and downs.

Surrender, in recovery, does not mean giving up. It does not suggest that the addict seeking recovery throw in the towel, resolved to a life of hanging one’s head in shame. Surrender does not equal defeat for the recovering addict.

No, surrender is one of the surest ways to find victory. I surrender to the reality of my disease. I surrender to the fact that I am powerless over my addiction as long as I keep using drugs. I surrender to the fact that I must change if I want to find freedom and a new way of life.

So, I surrendered, and continue to surrender. Today, I surrender my self-will in favor of seeking God’s will for my life. I surrender my way of facing life’s ups and downs, in favor of applying spiritual principles to them.

I am like the Riverside Boxer. My fight isn’t over. My demons are not defeated. Short of a miracle from God, they won’t be. Yet I am able to face those demons with a new set of weapons. I go into battle daily with the confidence I have gained by working steps, and the spiritual principles of the Narcotics Anonymous program.

The punches I throw can not be seen by others. They are thrown by my spirit. They come from the heart. By surrendering Kent’s way of fighting in favor of God’s way, victory has become mine.

Have a remarkable day!


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