Yesterday was quite a day. A business associate of mine met me at my hotel in central Arkansas early in the morning so we could head our on our journey for the day. Our first meeting was to be in a small town about three hours northwest of our starting point.
It was a dreary morning. The previous day’s rain had created the ideal conditions for morning fog. That fog was so thick that not much besides the trees lining our route was visible.
I was on the phone with Amanda, catching up on how the morning had been thus far for her and Shaun, when I commented on how disappointed the fog was making me. I told her that I just knew I was missing out on some beautiful scenery. The steep inclines and twists and turns in the road told me we were driving through the mountains. Mountains that were surely filled with remnants of brightly colored fall leaves.
We passed through a small town named Nimrod. What an interesting name. Another interestingly named site, a sign told me I was driving over Muddy Creek. Some uniquely name places here!
Well, eventually my cell service cut out. My call with Amanda ended. I was left alone with my thoughts, my music, and the fog.
By now, we had caught up with a tractor-trailer that was struggling with the features of the highway. Burdened by its heavy load, the truck was definitely slowing us down. Yet, there was nothing to be done about it. With no place to pass safely for me, and no room for him to pull off to the side to let us pass, I, and the rest of traffic behind him simply needed to accept our twenty mile per hour speed as we crept up Onyx mountain.
That’s when it happened. As we slowly ascended to mountain, the fog that had punctuated our morning drive thus far disappeared. All at once, we were in a bright sunny morning. A morning filled with brightly colored leaves and majestic views. I literally thanked God out loud as the view took my breath away.
Then I had an epiphany. The slow truck in front if me had done me a favor. At twenty miles per hour, I was able to fully enjoy my surroundings. Onyx Mountain with its colorfully adorned trees, came into view, and I was able to truly enjoy and appreciate the world around me. What would normally be seen as an impediment, had become the key to appreciating my surroundings. That truck, and it’s slow speeds, made life better.
When my business associate and I arrived at our first stop, I discovered he had had the same experience. He was just as grateful for that slow truck as I had been.
Eventually, our journey continued on to Fort Smith, AR. The entire route was full of bright colors and beautiful scenery. My morning experience had reminded me to take time to enjoy it. I even managed to snap a decent photo of one of the last mountains I saw yesterday.
My day ended, as most do while traveling, with a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous. I was greeted with kindness and hospitality when I introduced myself as a visitor from out of town. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day. A day that had been full of appreciation. Another day spent clean in recovery.
When I first found the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, I was in a fog. Just like yesterday’s drive, I knew deep down inside that there must be more to life. I knew I was missing out on so much.
Seeing other addicts living full and happy lives told me there was more. My past experiences told me there was more. Yet, despite my knowledge, conviction even, that there was more to life, I could not yet see it. The fog was simply too thick.
My journey out of that fog was like my trip up Onyx Mountain behind that slow-moving truck. Everything in me told me that the journey was too slow. That my progress was not coming quickly or easily enough. I wanted a shortcut. I wanted a quick fix. Yet none was available.
So, with some open-mindedness, I stayed the course. I slowly made my way up the mountain out of addiction. I did what thousands of addicts seeking recovery before me had done. I stuck with it until that fog had cleared. I hung in there until I could see clearly and once again fully enjoy life.
Unlike my mountain top experience from yesterday, I do not recall any sudden lifting of the fog of my addiction. It has been much more of a gradual, sometimes painful process. A process that has had its share of setbacks and disappointments. Despite these, I drew strength from the examples set by those around me, and I pressed on.
The message of NA provided me with a preview of what was to come in my recovery journey. First, it became necessary for me to stop using drugs. Only then could the fog begin to lift.
Next, I was told that I would lose the desire to use. Is that sunshine I see trying to cut through the fog? Could it be true? Is it really possible?
Finally, finding a new way of life, one guided by spiritual principles, would bring the breakthrough. The process continued until I found myself atop my own Onyx Mountain. I had found my new way of life. I had journeyed clear out of the fog of drug abuse, and back into the light of recovery.
When we drove back down the opposite side of Onyx Mountain, we never saw the fog again. It was behind us. We could enjoy the day with its spectacular scenery.
Of course that was our choice. We could just as easily have chosen to turn back around and drive ourselves back into that fog.
The same holds true for recovery. I have a daily choice to make. A choice to continue life in the light of staying clean, or returning to the fog of drug abuse. As ridiculous as it may seem to me at this moment, I must remain mindful of the fact that a part of me will always be drawn back to that fog. My disease will tell me that the fog was better. Easier. Less painful.
Thus, my journey in recovery continues. I will continue to practice open-mindedness, allowing myself to seek and follow the path that has been taken by those who are with me in the journey. A path that keeps me in the light. The path of recovery.
Have a remarkable day!