Five years ago, almost to the minute when I’m writing this, I had a life-changing experience. It doesn’t matter what it was, but trust me, it was one of those moments that you never forget.
The point isn’t what, it’s that I had several choices at that point. A couple of them would most definitely not have been to my advantage. None of them had to be made instantly, and fortunately–oh, so very fortunately–I took the time to get over most of the shock, looking before I leapt in an almost literal sense. Although I did implement some of them in fairly short order, I took the time to settle down a little and avoided any one of a number of stupid decisions that could have had truly unpleasant consequences.
That wasn’t typical of me. My usual course of action would have been to shoot from the hip, or crawl into bed, assume the prenatal position, and turn the electric blanket up to “nine”. Even after more than two decades in one of the fellowships, I hadn’t mastered the art of living to the degree needed to make sensible snap decisions (I still haven’t). Fortunately, when backed into a corner, I stopped for once, thought, and ended up taking a direction that has resulted a far better life than I’d had before…certainly better than some of the alternatives.
Why was that unusual for me? Simple. Despite all those years of supposed sobriety, I hadn’t let go of my real addiction. That “searching and fearless moral inventory” hadn’t been searching enough. (Some folks would call it a substitute addiction, but it wasn’t; it was the one that had led to the others, in one way or another, but that I was unequipped to address–or even recognize–during my recovery from chemical addictions.)
As some wise party in a meeting once said, there’s rarely anything so bad that my thinking can’t make it worse. I need to remember that my best thinking really did get me here, and there’s no reason to believe that–by itself–it’s likely to get me out of any trouble that it got me into to begin with. The lesson that I get from all this, in looking back over the past five years, is that even when the night is darkest, it’s wiser to wait and see if there’s any sign of dawn on the horizon before you burn the woods down trying to build a fire.
It always pays to wait–to take another breath, get a second opinion, and to look before I leap. I remember that these days, most of the time.