Today is Day 18 of my current stretch of sobriety. I get up these days and try to meditate instead of medicate, and pray earnestly before my monkey mind swings into action. It is a hard habit to create. It’s tough to do so in the household I live in. Still surfing on the bumpy red couch, I am usually woken up by odd jungle sounds from the animal and human menagerie that I thought I had only been dreaming of just before in my now interrupted deep sleep. My morning serenade consists of five cages of birds chirping and flapping vigorously, a slightly lower octave of six miniature Sheltie dogs barking, usually a cat or two convulsing as they vomits forth a fur and Friskies hairball, my landlord speaking rather loudly in Dutch to his parents in Holland on his Metro PCS cell phone, and his slightly neurotic wife standing over me chomping down a bowl of cereal, eerily observing me slowly turn over to face my wonderful world with red, squinting cowboy eyes. Without fail, everyday, she asks me ever so politely, “Oh, we didn’t wake you up, did we?”
I am quickly up now, out of the house, and down to the nearby peaceful Lion’s Park where I read my recovery literature, meditating upon what comes to mind from these wise writings. I pray the Serenity Prayer and a few others. I also ask for my Higher Power’s will to be done in my life, certainly not mine these days. Then, its back home for a shit, shower, shave, a breakfast shake, and off to a meeting, the twelve o’clock at a group near the Village of the Duncans. This daily ritual sets the tone for the day, keeps me sober, and helps me not to create resentments against caged birds, Shelties, sick cats, immigrants from Amsterdam, obsessive/compulsive wives, and the rest of you all out there.
I get through most of the day and meet all of my other appointments. In the early evening, I leave to go into Big D, to the Unity Church of Dallas. This Howard something guy from the movie “The Secret”is to give a lecture on HeartMath, a way of living and speaking from one’s heart based upon being an expression of love in the world. Sounds nice to me. I usually manage the audio and video equipment for Unity, but tonight, I will just be an attendee and I look forward to being there relaxing, learning a new spiritual tool, and maybe socializing with others of this peace-centered community. It is my safe sanctuary home away from home.
Well, as John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you when your busy making other plans.”As I’m rolling down the highway at high speeds on HWY 67, pieces of tire rubber shrapnel start exploding under and over my little Toyota pickup. I thought I had blown my right front tire. As I slowly exit and come to a stop at the Shell station on the corner of Kiest Blvd and Marvin D Love in the City of the Oaks, I find that my right front tire still inflated, but all of the hard rubber tread had violently removed itself from my wheel.
Crap. What now?
OK, so this is where I usually furiously start smoking as many cigarettes as I can stuff into my face, ears, and any other available orifice in order to get that sweet nicotine buzz. Here is where before any rational thoughts would enter my mind, I would haul ass into the Shell station and immediately investigate as to whether they sold Bud Light or not. Two and a half weeks ago I would have been searching my ash tray, floor board, floor mats, seat cushions, dashboard, glove box, air vents….anywhere to find a forgotten joint, roach, pill or even the slightest residue of any chemical which would temporarily numb me out so I did not feel any of this happening to me. Fuck, who cares about the goddamn tire, I would have just wanted to smoke, drink, or get high somehow, someway, anyhow.
Instead, I called my sponsor. Wow, what a novel concept. Who knew? He gave me the number to the Dallas County Roadside Assistance folks. I called and they showed up in under 30 minutes. Ron and Larry from TXDOT drove me to a nearby 24 hour tire shop, negotiated the best price for a slightly used tire with the Hispanic brethren toiling there, drove me back to my truck, and put the new tire back on the axle. I never had to lift a finger or got my hands greasy. Although I missed my evening appointment with Howard and HeartMath, had to spend $25 that was earmarked for groceries, and got an unexpected tour of points of interest in The Cliff… I did not use. Something had definitely changed.
Relieved, I decided to head home. It occurred to me that it was still early in the evening. At the house, most of the menagerie would still be up and awake scratching, flapping, coughing, yelling and generally going slightly insane at the house. Too soon to go home I thought. What to do? Not much going on in the Village of the Duncans tonight. Geez Louise, I’m nervously driving through a cultural last century wasteland with my brand new used tire. Yeah for me. The idle hands in my own demon’s workshop were raising up and about to start waving me towards bad thoughts and even worse actions of acting out. I could feel it.
As I rolled my truck windows down and turned off the A/C, I drove down Main Street and began to hear music emanating forth from the Village of the Duncans gazebo area near the D-ville Police Station. A Thursday night concert was afoot. I stopped, locked the truck (can’t be too trusting of these Duncan inbreds), and walked over to get a better view. The little band was finishing up an unfamiliar R&B tune as I found a shade tree to stand under in the collapsing last light of the sunset. CC, the female lead vocalist of her own ragged band, dressed in a broad cowboy hat, pink halter top, faded jorts (blue jean shorts), and white snake skin boots, announced the next tune to the audience. Yelling out in a deep whiskey tinged voice, she said “and now we’re gonna do a cover for y’all of one of my all time favorite songs written for B. B. King by a little ol’ band from Ireland who goes by the name of U2…this here is “When Love Comes to Town…”
Had I not been in public, I would have unclenched my asshole and shit all over myself. That there was my all time favorite song too, little darlin’. CC and the boys throttled into the most blue, rocking, overdriven, rushed, distorted, bawdy version of this under appreciated rock-n-roll hymnal, my generations “Amazing Grace.” And how fucking sweet the sound truly was to me. She belted out my favorite lyrics of the song:
I ran into a juke joint when I heard a guitar scream
The notes were turning blue, I was dazing in a dream
As the music played I saw my life turn around
That was the day before love came to town
When love comes to town I’m gonna jump that train
When love comes to town I’m gonna catch that flame
Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
But I did what I did before love came to town
OMG! It was happening to me like in the song, as the song played. I looked around to make sure no one was watching as my eyes filled up with tears.
And then she sang:
I was there when they crucified my Lord
I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword
I threw the dice when they pierced his side
But I’ve seen love conquer the great divide
Now, I’m bawling like a baby. I’m a little sensitive these days, you see. I am feeling everything. I’ve never felt all of this before. In fact, I had just felt a wave of love come down over and around me as I cried along with my beloved U2/BB King tune. Somehow, by the grace of God, I had not had a drink all day. Everything seemed to be just all right. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I stood there near the gazebo in the middle of my big small world contemplating and feeling what was happening to me, what I could not have done for myself. I quietly under my breath prayed out a grateful “thank you” to Spirit for the roof over my head, the couch, the birds, the dogs, the cats, my rusty old Toyota pickup, the bald tire, the new used tire, TXDOT, CC and the band, the gazebo, U2, BB King, and all of the Flying Dutchmen and their weirdly wonderful wives here in the Village of the Duncans.
For me, Day 18 was the day that Love happened to come by my little town.