I took the picture featured in this post not because I have an affinity for either Coke or Five Guys, but because I liked the way the light and shadows danced on the cup. The way the cup caught the light and shadows reminded me about how my own life catches both light and darkness and how each serves its purpose.
A common theme that runs through treatment is the idea that life sucks and that drugs/alcohol relieve a lot of the suckiness. The fear many addicts have is that the suckiness of their lives will be too much to bear without their respective substances’ numbing effects. And to be honest, their fears are in fact warranted. The reality is that life can often suck so badly that there aren’t many ways to remove the suckiness. I don’t know anyone, addict or not, who hasn’t been touched by despair or loneliness or fear or hurt. And it’s not really a matter of needing better acquaintances; it’s a basic reality that life’s not a bed of de-thorned roses.
But over the years, I’ve come to see the shadows as teachers. The light is great and all, but it’s the trials of life that have proven to me that there are reasons for everything. We may not understand those reasons, but it is our responsibility to figure out what the shadows mean to us. I’ve come to the conclusion that life’s suckiness is a matter of perspective; we can view stuff however we choose to see it. We can find bad in almost anything and we can allow that bad to send us into despair. Or we can try and find some way to learn from the bad and grow and find more to celebrate in the light.
I’m not saying that learning from life’s suckiness is easy. It’s not. It takes daily focus and training to see that although life can suck, it is really a matter of how we choose to see it. I’ve seen people who come out stronger from seemingly impossible circumstances just by believing that there was a reason for the circumstances to have occurred. I’ve also seen people who appear to have it all come to a place of despair so low that hope almost seems completely removed from their soul.
So, I snapped a picture of a cup because it caught light and shadows in such a way that I see that we all catch both light and shadows, whether we are in recovery or not, and it’s up to us to choose how we wear them.