I used to tell people that I had no choice about getting sober — that I knew if I didn’t I was going to die. But that’s not really true; I did have a choice. I could have said no. The fact is, I was scared not to, but that’s only because I was lucky. “Scared” could have gone the other way. I could have been more afraid to give up the life I knew than I was of whatever was ahead.
I don’t believe in gods. But I believe in miracles. The very fact that I am not a believer keeps me in awe of the amazing set of circumstances that led up to that moment of — not clarity — of simple willingness to quit fighting. The wrong words, the wrong combination of chemicals that day, the wrong look on someone’s face. That’s all it would have taken. It was sheer luck. The right things were said to me at exactly the right time. Had it been otherwise — well, I know I was right about the dead part.
I had a choice. And here I am.
Here’s one of my favorite poems:
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
Robert Frost — from Mountain Interval (1920)
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.