Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves. -- James Joyce, Ulysses.
There's a certain glamor that can attach itself to stories recovering addicts and alcoholics tell about themselves. They create a narrative which makes them tragic romantic heroic figures with rich colorful pasts and inherit wisdom that normal people can't possibly understand. These self glorifying drunks and junkies use their diseases to imbue themselves with a glorious wisdom deserving reverence. These people are -- of course -- full of shit. What they have in bravado they lack in humility.
Humility is precious. A drop of it is worth pounds of gold. And lest you think I don't know what I'm talking about I'm talking about what I've been for much of the past decades. Wearing a checkered past like a badge of courage and honor. I crawled out of the pit of hell and now bestride sobriety like a colossus.
Humility is the recognition the understanding and the acceptance that we are part of a whole and while we're different we're no better than anyone else no matter what we do.
Of course a lot of us spend our whole lives smugly being different than everyone else. We are not normal not regular not ordinary we are fucking awesome and other people are just too dumb to now it. We have a special vision seeing what others cannot. Experiencing life more meaningfully. Sure we suffer for our self bestowed beatitudes. Addiction and mental quirks -- ranging from idiosyncrasies to manic depression -- are some of the prices we pay for our heightened senses of awareness. Mere mortals can not possibly understand. How we suffer for our state of grace.
There are 12 step programs that can help wash away some of our self righteousness. But we can practices certain principles in all our affairs and still feel deep down that we are above it all. Deep down and above. Our wonderfully contradictory spiral into the depths of ourselves.
Life is a process. There is no finer aspiration than to pursue progress and not perfection. It's all we have really. Taking steps forward even if the winds of misfortune are blowing us backwards. There is much to be said for the person who gets up everyday and takes that shower and eats that breakfast and heads for that job and takes care of business and doesn't just rail and scream impotently at injustices small and large but does something. Keep on truckin' is not such a silly notion.
If you hang in there putting one foot before the other you'll surely be rewarded. Just being part of the world is a miracle. To experience love and friendship and art and beauty and nourishment and light and ideas...what gifts! By allowing ourselves to be part of it all we then can truly see that while we are all unique and special we are not of a superior quality no matter what we know and what we've experienced and what we've learned and who we've known. Cherishing who we are without deifying ourselves is an art best mastered in order to know true happiness.
It's all ridiculously easy and impossibly hard and wonderfully ambiguous and we are all fully capable and sorely lacking. We are the contradictions we seek in the world whether we're looking for them or not.