I call myself an athlete.
And a recovering alcoholic.
And I say I know how to love.
Those are titles and declarations, and with them come heavy responsibilities.
Athletes train. We are not people who show up only when we feel like it to merely "work out." We don't skip on Tuesdays because Tuesdays are part of what make us stronger for Wednesdays and the following Monday and the platform six months from now and generally speaking, better at living life when life gets hard. We fuel our bodies with foods that further enhance our potential. We skip the six pack of beer for a gallon of water and we sleep enough to facilitate growth.
We put in the work yesterday and right now and tomorrow so that when we're called on to be strong, we're armed and ready. I do this with a team of like-minded friends who push me, sometimes
drag me, and all times remind me that I am better than what I think I am.
One day at a time, I am recovering from a disease that's trying to kill me. Addiction is real. Its job is to destroy my life, and to combat that otherwise certain death, I must follow a set of guidelines that help me remember God is in charge, that seeking comforts over quality of character will erode my sensitive soul, and that I cannot give away what I do not have. If I wish for this world to be a happy, peaceful place, those qualities must emanate from the core of my being.
It isn't enough.
I've loved good and I've loved hard in my lifetime, but love without work means very little. If I say I love you, what must follow is a thousand next right actions, the kind that make you feel safe, protected, and certain of who I am no matter who is watching.
I can say I am something, but I best back that shit up if I really want to be it. And without the daily grind that is WORK, I will FAIL at every one of those things when life gets hard.
Like when I hit a season of burn out with my training.
Or despite working hard at staying sober and growing closer to God, some life event knocks me flat on my ass.
Or when the person I love lets me down because, let's be honest, we humans do that from time to time.
If I have not developed the STRENGTH in the good times, how will I ever manage the tough ones?
I owe it to the team of athletes I work with everyday to show up and put in work. I don't just do it for me, I do it for them. I owe it to the rooms full of fellow drug addicts and alcoholics I see every day to work hard at getting and staying sober so that I can be a light for the new, the lost, and the frightened. And I owe it to the people I say I love to do the next right thing. Because love should feel good in happy times and like a GD fortress in bad times.
Did you know that geese fly in a "V" formation because it makes them stronger? The lead bird flaps his (her) wings, and all the birds flying behind him benefit by having to do less work to stay in flight. When the front man gets a little tired, she makes her way to the back to rest while another bird takes its place. They work together because in community, they are stronger.
When they move forward in the same direction, they fly farther. They soar higher. They do together what they could never do alone. And when one bird goes down, two always follow. They protect and care for their fallen friend and never leave him behind.
I wanna be the strong one. Whether it's in the gym or the rooms of AA or the whole wide world where I can pour out my love, I want to be able to fly front (wo)man and make the load lighter for whoever's in that big blue sky with me. And it's a relief to know that when I tire out or life takes a downturn (because it always does) I'm surrounded by friends who can pick up the slack while I rest a bit.
And if you go down, I comin' with you....
Cuz I'll have spent my life preparing for that kind of moment.
And I'll be ready.