The Month the Earth Stood Still

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

As someone early in recovery, a month of isolation, lack of work, no public meetings, financial fear and boredom would be the perfect storm of conditions leading to a relapse. Not only that, it would be a perfectly justifiable reason to the rest of the world, right? I can’t handle it so drinking is my only option–because that is how alcoholics deal with life. Drinking for an alcoholic is the solution to EVERYTHING–we don’t deal with life.

In the midst of the weirdest month of literally seeing our world come to a screeching halt, I have heard many stories about powerlessness, loss of control, frustration, anger and impatience at this pandemic that has us living in this altered state of suspension. The roads are quiet; businesses are dark; and the sounds of airplanes eerily absent. We have a whole new set of rules by which to interact socially, that is if we interact at all. Some live in fear of not having work when this all blows over, or worse yet, not having funds to get them through a month.

Yet on the flip side, people have spent time with families, and tried to figure out how to engage with their kids in a whole new way. Personally, I have been doing a lot around the house that I have put off for years, yeah, step aside Marie Kondo. Furthermore, I have seen an immense amount of creativity in how people have managed to still enjoy their lives–virtual happy hours (for drinking coworkers), getting out for walks, working on a garden, playing with a new puppy, digging out the old guitar, learning to connect virtually, and on and on. The pandemic combined with our political situation has provided endless fodder for memes and comedians, making sure we don’t lose our sense of humor. You don’t have to binge watch Netflix the next 3 weeks but I suppose that is a viable option too.

Also on the flip side, I have heard stories about how the skies in major cities have cleared up; lack of litter left by walkers-by in NYC and New Orleans has brought out rats in search of food. There are probably any number of interesting stories that lay bare the impacts of our unobstructed consumerism that have only become apparent when we actually stop for a second. Taking all of this in is enough to turn even Pollyanna into a cynic and pessimist. But what good does that do me? The only choice I have in this matter is how I choose to look at life–it sucks; I don’t have a job; my kids are driving me crazy; the loneliness is killing me–or, I have time to commit to helping other people perhaps even at a safe social distance; I can do something at home; and I get to spend time with the people most important to me. How I chose to view things totally changes my perception of them. I learned this from AA. Maybe this is an ideal opportunity to do step work, reach out to sponsees/sponsors, read the Big Book, or just sit in quiet meditation and learn what it means to be at peace with myself and my situation, no matter what that may be. How often do we get this opportunity to literally stop life as usual, and think about what’s really important? It’s true, we are at a stand still, hopefully for not much longer, but I can find to good and skillful ways to live every day, or I can cry in my soup and be miserable for the next month–the choice is mine.

Speaking of fun and inspiration, here’s a few recommendations

Still trudging the road of happy destiny, one day at a time.


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