So I’m driving in the car the other day and my Simon & Garfunkel playlist is permeating every corner of Earl, my “Hamstermobile,” from stem to stern. It sounds really good too, and I am relishing every moment, singing along. I’m thinking, “I’ve been listening to these songs for almost 50 years and they still have as much meaning for me as when I first heard them as a child. They still sound just as good, and they still move me to tears or make me smile, just as they have all these years.”
Recovery has a lot in common with the Simon & Garfunkel songs I listen to. The things that are read and said at meetings are the “hits” I have been hearing for almost 29 years now. “It works if you work it.” “One day at a time.” “There but for the grace of God go I.” Just like the the Simon & Garfunkel songs have different meaning for me as I live more and grow older, so too do the lessons I am taught in the rooms. The lyrics of the songs haven’t changed; it is me that has changed. I have experienced more, seen more, lived more, and my perceptions have changed because of this.
The song “Old Friends” has been a particular favorite of mine for many reasons. It is a look at a day that once had seemed SO far off, and now seems to be approaching with ever more haste as each year passes. The loneliness, the change, the knowing it can never be as it once was, none of it. Not my life, my loves, my heart; the consequences of the choices I’ve made over the years are more apparent and intrusive now. Some mistakes have no remedies just as some transgressions will not be afforded the opportunity to make amends for. Most of all, looking back on a life and seeing all the missteps and the realization that most can not be changed, or made right again, and the disappointment that comes with this. Knowing that we are shadows of the strong, rebellious, vibrant young people we once were. That is gone now even though it seems like it was just yesterday.
So it is with recovery in some ways. We have to let our mistakes go if we want to move on. That doesn’t mean that we don’t try to make amends where appropriate and where it doesn’t harm others just to assuage our own guilt and/or regret. As we learn from our past, we move into the future. As we get closer to the end though, we are grateful for the time we have been given because deep in our heart of hearts we know that had we not remained clean and sober, we would not have had any of that at all.
Even as time is “running out,” we have to learn to forgive ourselves, which in some ways, if one has any conscience whatsoever, is the hardest thing to do. Once again, even now, we are left with the one basic truth: