Woke up to a tearing gale howling down the valley and knocking the village to bits. Unfortunate, because today is the annual garden ramble run by the evangelical church. All the roses and lupins and hollyhocks will be blown to petal fragments. Begonias blitzed and poppies shrivelled.
I should be more sympathetic. My garden is never included in the village garden ramble because I am not a reborn evangelical who believes in the Rapture and the preordained subordination of women. And my garden is full of ugly ordinary drought-tolerant South African plants like aloes and brown restio grasses rather than pretty English roses that use up gallons of water and need cans of pesticide to be kept looking like the pink and white roses in an English country garden. My neighbours around the village are not ecologically minded.
So let the winds blow, I think, uncharitably.
Yesterday a friend of mine posted a quotation from Chapter 6 of the BB and when I read it, the plain common sense made me realise that this means to me than any of the other Promises or daydreams about sobriety-enhanced success or romantic happiness in life.
‘And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.’
That is how I feel most of the time. Not complacent, not anxious, just ‘in a position of neutrality safe and protected’. It could all change tomorrow. But this is how I feel today and how I feel most of the time. This is the most complete understanding of sanity in my life now.
There are all kinds of other challenges and preoccupations and muddles. But none of them have anything to do with alcohol.
When I write or speak with the newly sober all jittery and grey-faced and with headspin, or the mortified chronic relapsee, this is the ‘fit spiritual condition’ I most want them to experience along with me. All kinds of things may be going right, or going wrong, and life may not be any simpler or easier. But King Alcohol has been deposed. The mad drunken ogre has moved out of the attic.
Now I am going out in the wind to pick some Italian wild rocket for a tomato salsa. Peppery wild rocket that I have been watching and guarding for weeks now. It is fiinlly mature enough to lose a handful of leaves. While I am kneading gnocci and slicing up tomatoes, I shall play Tosca, loudly. One of those rolled-up sleeves and floury apron mornings, another of those Visconti meets Marcelle Hazan meets Sophia Loren weekends in the cucina. Life is good.