Beauty is only skin deep. But ugly goes straight to the bone. – Fred Sanford
Charlotte dragged me kicking and screaming to the 8:00 Sedona meeting today. I have yet to find my niche in the program, but I am certain that God has His plans. People were genuinely delighted to see me, and I got many warm hugs. Since I didn’t bring my writing board, I just smiled as best I can these days and nodded goofily. It’s a struggle letting go of my need to be witty and pithy.
The trip to Detroit is scheduled, but for a number of reasons I have elected to come home as soon as the speech prosthesis is placed (or “the thing” as I will refer to it for the sake of brevity). I plan to work with my speech pathologist (SLP) at Mayo as soon as I get back. I am not getting my hopes up. As the SLP in Detroit reminded me, people who have lost their tongues have a much tougher road than simple (?) laryngectomies. As usual, Charlotte’s hopes are higher than mine, but she handles disappointment better so I can live with that. My motto is “no appointment, no disappointment.” I would rather that “life on life’s terms” exceed my expectations.
The topic of the meeting turned to the joy of sobriety. For as unhappy as I have been feeling lately, I have never lost my joy. Happiness is based on happenstance. Joy is based on the love of God that underlies everything. I have never lost that. To paraphrase Mr. Sanford, “Happiness is skin deep. But joy goes straight to the bone.” How anyone can live a joyless life is incomprehensible to me. I couldn’t do it. It might be argued that my faith in God arises out of a deep need to find purpose and meaning, but that just begs the question. If God draws me to Himself by making me keenly aware of how bereft of joy life would be without His love, then He has achieved His purpose. As I once said to an early AA mentor, “If this is a myth, then it is the most benevolent myth imaginable.” I recently saw Jordan Peterson responding to the question as to whether or not he believed in God, and after a couple of attempts to express it, he said simply, “I act as if God exists. Now you can decide for yourself whether that means I believe in him, so to speak.” A page out of our book, to be sure.
Lest any of you think that the preceding implies a wavering in my faith, let me be quick to reassure. I have always been a skeptic and doubts have always crept in. I had to build a faith that could encompass doubt or it would be no faith at all. One thing I can say with absolute certainty: I made a decision at the age of thirteen that God did not exist, and twenty years later my life could be charitably described as a heap of stinking, smoldering rubbish. So at age thirty-three, I made a decision to “act as if” God existed. Thirty-seven years later the results continue to affirm that living my life on that basis is overwhelmingly the better of the two. I see no reason to reconsider. Neither would Pascal.
So I face this new year with the same profound joy that has brought me this far. I may or may not be “happy,” because I can’t predict what will “happen.” But I can say with certainty that my joy will carry me through, as it always has. So to each of you, I wish you a joyful new year. Let’s live it to the bone.