Just a few weeks ago my newest book was released. Progressive Recovery through the Twelve Steps: Emotionally Sober for Life turns out to be a capstone to my life; not just as a recovering alcoholic, but as a guy who has been called to the Spirit for the whole of my life. In truth, I was surprised to discover that the book represents that calling, albeit through the lens of recovery and the twelve steps. I was also surprised by the depth of my feelings about this work and its meaning to me. The foreshadowing for that came in a blog last fall, which related “If it’s your life’s work, it will take your life.”
As a friend likes to ask, “Who can predict this stuff?”
Before exploring the links between Progressive Recovery and Seeing True™, a question that arises more than occasionally from those who follow my adventures, it seems useful to answer another question, “What’s the point?”
Emotional sobriety is a gold standard for life and living. One teacher called it equipoise, to be unswayed by the pushes or pulls of the world, its people, or even our own sometimes suspect selves. Thomas Jefferson urged us toward passionate and disinterested pursuits, a strange fusion of the callings of the heart with simultaneous objectivity that allows for wisdom to win out.
The point is not simply emotional balance throughout our lives, but to maintain a vantage point that allows us be fully available to life in any given moment.
That is a tall order indeed. Yet not one of us aspires to a life of mediocrity even as we balk at such ridiculously high callings.
That is the context for the book as well as this blog. I’m playing on the highest ground available to me, following an internal guidance, though it may be more apt to say I’m stumbling and bumbling since that seems to be the true nature of my human journey.
What Does a Recovery Book Have to Do with Seeing True?
There is a backstory to the book. But the real story begins in 1985 when my life train-wrecked as a consequence of alcoholism. That’s an entirely different story as told on the Progressive Recovery site. Yet, there is a transformative moment that captured my attention then, and that has kept me seeking ever since.
For the nine years preceding physical sobriety, I started every day with a vow to not drink, and failed almost every day. I exercised every ounce of knowledge, willpower and effort only to fail daily. In retrospect, it was an unrelenting process of discomfort and discovery.
Then when enough of life’s pains had tenderized me sufficiently, when wife, career, and physical and mental health were being forfeited, and I came to question whether to pull the plug on my own life, a miracle fell upon me. Somehow, I was led to the programs of recovery, to excellent therapeutic support, and to brilliant spiritual teachers. One morning, a morning that was in no way exceptional, I heard myself utter words that caused a transformation.
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
What I did not know at that moment was how deeply that thought ran within me. It was not a cognitive exercise, but emanated from my heart of hearts, if not my soul.
Not only have I not had a drink since that moment, the cravings vanished. Inexplicably, I was struck sober.
It would take a few years before the profundity of that moment became clear to me. Several other transformative experiences followed, and then a few more appeared in the lives of others with whom I was exploring these concepts.
At some point it became clear to me that we are designed by Life to be ever-transforming. We are designed for Life and for transformation. It is at the heart of us. I no longer believe it to be random, nor capricious. While not readily replicable, if we lean into the design and the path that presents itself, we can trust the process of life and living to bring us home to ourselves.
Recovery was the touchstone to Seeing True™ as a practice. Seeing True™ became the portal to Progressive Recovery. Progressive Recovery laid the foundation for an enduring and durable emotional sobriety.
This has become my life’s work, and has taken my life, because all I now care about is this remarkable possibility and potential that is available to each and every one of us. It has crept into every aspect of the life I live today. More importantly, it has become the foundation for all the work I do in the world, though very few know that. It doesn’t matter what we call it. It doesn’t actually matter whether we believe it or not. I’m not sure it even matters whether we embrace it or not. One dear friend heard the still small voice say to him one day, “Your cooperation is not required.”
This does not mean we are merely automatons, pawns on some giant chessboard. It does mean that the process of Life can be trusted. While we can’t predict the form that Grace will take, and we would be fools to think we can predict our apparent decisions, there is nothing but Grace. No exceptions.
As for me, there was another moment some years ago, a Seeing True™ moment. I suddenly realized deep within me that I could never again resist the calling of this spiritual path and journey. In the moment I heard my own words, I felt it in my body all the way down to the deepest recesses of my being.
“I’m all in.”
So it is, and so it shall be.