In AA, it’s called a moment of clarity. Or it’s an epiphany. Or the light bulb set ablaze in your noggin. My mom calls it my moment of grace. The “Ah ha!” moment. A hundred different things to call it, the event is the same. Something clicked and I’ll never be quite the same way again. You see, for me, when I started on this path, I’d been saying all along that “I don’t care if this 2 year program takes me 5 years, I’m gonna do it!” Wasn’t until about midway through that first semester of college level Biology that I realized “Shit, it may actually take me 5 years to get through this 2-year program. Chalk that up to an English/History major getting a degree in an applied science. Chalk it up to me being out of college for 16 years and then going back. Chalk it up to the brain surgery, the planets being misaligned and Shirley Temple’s aura being purple. Screw it. It is what it is and I have my work cut out for me.
See, I’ve never been one to make it easy on himself. Never been one to make it especially hard either. I just see what I want and find the way to get it and I decide to do it. This glorious lack of forethought and planning has yielded as much gold and glory as it has grief and misery. You see, I just don’t think things through the way a conventional person does. One day, it seems like brilliance. The next, tragic naivete. And honestly, I like it in my head. It’s a pretty fun place to be. Confusing? Certainly. Chaotic? Oh, you have no idea. But mostly, I entertain myself. And I know I entertain others. My grandpa (we called him Bapa, my mom’s dad) always used to chuckle when he heard about my most recent misadventure. And that always made me pretty happy. He was a pretty stoic guy, Bapa. Like the time in third grade I drew a picture of a naked woman on the chalk board. I didn’t do it to be perverted, I had just seen somebody else do it and, would you know, a few half circles arranged just so and a smily face and viola! Nude chick. That I made him laugh, I mean audibly laugh, at that one still makes me smile, even if it was because I did something so stupid or ill-thought out that a normal person would be brought to tears. I know my parents were. Sorry about that guys.
But anyway, about my epiphany. It happened when I was in day camp, watching all 16 of the little monsters scrambling around doing their thing. I can see them all in my head as clear as if I am reimagining a romantic moment that really had nothing to do with the actual goings-on but makes for a better story. There was Willow, the black and white lab who was mostly a lay-around type except when she sidled up to me and smiled, knowing that got me everytime. Bella, the chocolate lab that played fetch until you thought your wrist would just plop off. Zues, big black doodle whose mood depended on the day. Some days, he was great and loved to chew on toys and my arm. Others, he tried to pose as a bad ass and strut around and tell other dogs what to do. I had to talk to him those days, grab him by the scruff and tell him to ease off. Big pansy anyway. Rex, the Great Dane who had the build of a small compact car and the brain of a box of Legos. Noble young man who did not know his own strength. Could probably have worn a harness and tore down a building, but then he would have just dragged said building down the street chasing a bouncy ball. In the middle of all this, I realized that furthering my administrative aspirations in the field would be summarily unfulfilling with probably limited rewards.
Or I could be a vet tech. (No you can’t be a vet tech, Andy. You have brain damage) So what. Now that would be something. That would be a whole different trek into the unknown (Fat chance, Ahab. You didn’t like science the first time, and now you’re gonna get a degree in it? You’re a dunce, my friend. Be happy with that. At least you’re alive) But what kind of life? One that involved taking where I am laying down? Screw that. (Sorry, buddy. Shit happens. There’s plenty of other things you can do in this life to make yourself happy. Work is just not one of those things. Lots of people hate their jobs, Get used to it) I don’t want to. I want something better. I want to do more. I want to see if I’m really as stupid as I’ve been telling myself I am all these years. I’m gonna do it. (No, you’re not. You’re gonna sit down and do as I say. I’m getting angry now you f”ing moron) I’m not a moron. I still have have good things inside of me, good things the sickness and alcoholism and everything else can’t touch. Good things that I need to show the world, to tell the world I wasn’t done yet. Good things like writing and being a good person and being capable of healthy love of a woman and being what my parents and everybody else thinks I can be. Good things you have no right to tell me I have lost, because I haven’t lost them. I just misplaced them for a long while. (Fine, me and your old buddy Addiction will be playing Canasta in the corner until you realize I am right. And you will realize that. Mark my words) No. You mark mine. Your 15 minutes are up. You have no place here. Guards, take him away.
And just like that, he was gone. For now. And I have a whole army of the people I love and who love me to fight that joker off anytime we need to.
I enrolled in college level Biology, and he did come back. And he brought his friends Doubt and Insecurity. So I called in the cavalry, Prayer, Hard work, and a big old bazooka I thought I had lost forever, Confidence. And we blew him into next week. Or next semester, to be precise. I’m only 5 days in so far. And it feels a little overwhelming. But everytime I up my commitment a little more (I get my scrubs that I ordered, I sign up for kennel duty, unpaid kennel duty, I feel what it’s like to be a student who knows where his path will take him), I kick that slimy little gremlin with a voice like Golem further into his corner. I roundhouse kick Addiction against the wall and send him bleeding to his mommy. I go to a meeting, I talk to my sponsor and my friends. I feel a little stronger. A little more sure. A little more of myself steps up and digs into the box.
(Writer’s note: None of the names of the dogs have been changed to protect the innocent. I call spade a spade. Sorry if I offend.)