Writing my first book, Poetry Changes Lives in 2015, was a challenge; getting it published was a much bigger challenge. Publicising it this year is a greater challenge yet, because I am not strong on self-promotion and assertiveness generally. However all these events are the results of choices that I have made and I see them as part of the continuing process of my recovery, that is based on continuing attempts at self-improvement.
In active addiction, I only did what I felt like doing each day. Most days I felt like doing very little, so my mental, physical and spiritual progress was zero. Concepts such as ‘taking responsibility’ or ‘positive action’ were unknown to me. When I got into recovery at the age of 46, I had a lot of catching up to do. I was taught to keep it simple and to keep my priorities right and that is what I did. It worked, with a lot of help from my friends.
In recovery we make changes and thus we ourselves change. Through altering our attitudes and behaviour, we find new interests and discover aspects of ourselves that we never realised existed. We evolve in a positive way and the process is truly exciting.
Part of my evolution was the re-discovery of my two loves – poetry and history. For me they complement each other perfectly: at school, history was just dates and names but poetry brought it alive – the Story of Troy meant little until I discovered Homer, the Battle of Waterloo was just another battle until I read Byron and the First World War was an incomprehensible mess until I read Wilfred Owen’s poems. Poetry gives meaning and colour to otherwise boring facts.
When I sobered up, it was because I had rediscovered spirituality. For me this was the game-changer. It meant that I could stop seeing God as just one of the many people that I blamed for my disastrous lifestyle. Instead, I saw him as the source of my salvation – my Higher Power. This change in attitude was so fundamental and produced such striking results that I felt, and still feel, truly empowered.
Part of my spiritual journey has been prayer and meditation of the kind described in the Twelve Steps. It is part of my spiritual housekeeping and gives my life a new dimension – you can’t get all the answers from Google.
So it happened, while I was going through a rather negative time, about two years ago, that the idea of writing a book came to me. Following on from the idea came the desire to write about my interests and large among these of course, were poetry, history and meditation. I saw this as a positive way to progress my recovery through setting goals and working on tasks that I enjoyed. It has certainly helped me and it could help others.
There are a few major goals in life and they are usually the same for all of us: health, happiness and freedom are the big ones for me and together they represent the greatest goal of all – in life at any rate – serenity. The choices I make each day are steps towards this.
If you enjoyed what you’ve just read, Chris has just published an e-book of daily meditations on poetry and history on Amazon. Get it from Amazon here.
Image courtesy of andreydubinin.deviantart.com