There’s a story that turns up regularly in books about Buddhism and other Eastern religions. It seems that a king was intensely interested in understanding his faith, so he was in the habit of calling a wise old monk to his chambers when he had a burning question.
One day the king summoned the monk and asked, “Venerable One, what holds up the Earth?”.
The monk replied, “Highness, the Earth rests on the back of a turtle.”
The king thanked his mentor, and sent him away.
A month later, the monk was summoned again. The king said, “Venerable One, I have pondered long on what you said, and I must ask: What holds up the turtle?”.
[Now if I were telling this story aloud, I’d go through a couple more iterations of summoning and turtles before the punchline, but in the interest of brevity…]
The monk replied, “Highness, it’s turtles all the way down.”
Silly, but this story is a good analogy for recovery. We are tempted to think of recovery as a fixed goal: if I do this and this and this for long enough, and do them right, I’ll be sober. But in reality, recovery is a never-ending process, not an event. There is no such thing as perfect recovery, only progressive recovery.
We don’t have to settle for “good enough.” Recovery is the unfolding of a new human being, made of the same parts, the same trials, the same pain, the same triumphs as the old, but at the same time more than that. It is a never-ending journey of discovery and excitement, if we choose to make it so.
Like the turtles, it goes all the way down.