Be the Donkey
Recently I heard someone say that when he stopped drinking, his life changed so quickly it was like being “rocketed into a new dimension”, and I remembered when I got sober a number of years ago, I had the same experience. During the first two years of sobriety, my health, my friendships, and my family relationships were transformed beyond recognition. But now, my life is not like taking a rocketship at all; instead, it’s more like riding a donkey. Slowly, steadily, reliably, the donkey and I are moving down the road. Sometimes, though, for no reason I can see, the donkey stops and refuses to go any further. My tendency at that point is to get off the donkey and beat the hell out of it — teach it a lesson. But that never works: all I get is a mean donkey that bites me in the ass the first chance it gets. What I need to do, of course, is to get off the donkey and wait for it to start moving again. Stretch my legs. Maybe have a picnic in the meadow beside the road. To borrow a phrase from the poet Tony Hoagland, I need to work on my “donkey wisdom”.