Thursday, March 26, 2009


There is something about a recovering addict. The acceptance of weakness and powerlessness combined with a daily decision to overcome. Courage.

I am not a big fan of the Wizard of Oz. The whole flying monkey thing and that trippy bit in the poppy fields, I am still scarred from seeing it as a child. However, the idea that these three characters ‘lost’ their brain, their heart and their courage does make for an interesting story.

The absence of courage makes the lion a coward – scared of his own shadow. Fear is courage’s replacement. Fear breeds apathy, fear breeds excuse, fear is like anorexia of our soul. Fear starves me and reminds me that it’s not worth it. Fear causes me to give up and give in. With fear there is no hope.

I watched a documentary about philosophy. Cornell West was talking from the back seat of a car driving through Manhattan. “Courage is the enabling virtue for any human being. The courage to think, the courage to love, the courage to hope” – amen brother.

The lion was looking for courage everywhere except where it could be found. AA speaks of submitting to a ‘higher power’ in coming to terms with addiction. The realization that I am not all there is, that I am part of something much more, it draws me into a larger story. That bigger story is the source for my courage.

Each day on the news, or in the papers I am reminded of my own fragility. Tragedy strikes by the moment. Lives well lived are celebrated. My own mortality is a constant theme, conscious or unconscious. But, I don’t think mortality is just about the physical.

As I think about it, I face the potential death of myself all the time. The social equivalent to stepping off the curb into a busy street. Being really alive takes courage. Maybe that’s what it is about recovering addicts, I see in their eyes the courage that comes from choosing life even in the midst of the traffic.

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