Harbor Light – 2015/10

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“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” My father was a great believer in the Socratic maxim that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” He was convinced that the quest for genuine self-knowledge, though it often reveals unpleasant truths, is still the only workable foundation for a valuable life. I never asked him to explain why he was so attracted to this point of view or what he thought it meant. Had I done so, I don’t expect his explanation would have satisfied me or even made much sense. I was not a fearless child and the idea of uncompromising self-honesty made me uncomfortable. Even before I discovered alcohol, I learned to mask the real reasons for my behavior in layers of denial, self-justification and rationalization. I tended to move away from self-knowledge rather than toward it. Not until desperation drove me to the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous did I really begin to grasp the importance of self-examination. First there was pain. Living hurt. I didn’t begin my recovery from alcoholism until I was in my late fifties. By the time I joined the fellowship, I was utterly baffled and confused. I knew next to nothing about my self and what I did know, I didn’t much like. I was drinking to blunt a growing sense that my life was a pointless exercise in futility, and slowly but surely, that solution was beginning to break down. Out of pain came willingness. I abandoned myself to the idea that an entirely different way of seeing the world was both possible and necessary. The Twelve Steps provided me with a path to follow and for that I am deeply grateful.