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  • Arriving back home after the World Literature Conference in Ohio, I was filled with a sense of destiny and riding high from the intense effort I had just witnessed and been an integral part of. Up until Warren, this whole book thing was just something that I had done a ton of typing and editing for, but I had not seen the process they were using at the conferences to pull it all together. I also hadn’t had a vision of how it would all come together in a coherent book form. I’d just spent a week with the visionaries who did, and I was feeling quite enlightened. I thought these visionaries were brilliant, and deeply inspired.

    It was really quite remarkable. Just imagine a group of 50 people trying to write a book, parts of which were actually written by hundreds of people. That’s what it was like. We truly believed that God was working through us, through our Group Conscience, guiding us to making the right choices and decisions as a group. It was pretty mind-blowing. The fact that we had come out of the week there with a final draft version of the book was nothing short of miraculous to me, considering what we’d started out the week with. I was glad Al had talked me into blowing off my job to go out there. I felt like it was right where I was supposed to be.

    With the book done, at least for the time-being (we would eventually have to incorporate any additonal input that came in from the fellowship, and then gather and include individual recovery stories in the back), and no college classes for the rest of the summer, I found myself with more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. Time to think. This was when I began to realize how completely all over the map I now was. I hadn’t been journaling since the time I had first joined N.A., 16 months before. I literally hadn’t had time for such things. There had been very little time nor inclination for such introspection.

    I’d just been constantly on the go – going to meetings, working on the book, school, work, numerous other program commitments. It was like I was running from something, and I was. Me. I hadn’t been ready to really look inside, yet, and now it felt like it was time to start that process. I decided to take it easy for the rest of the summer. Find a job, and just work and go to meetings. I got into the habit of soaking in a hot tub late at night, with only candle-light, and started keeping a new journal. I called it “The Hot Tub Chronicle”. I still have it. It reveals how scattered and searching I was at the time. How I was still trying to make myself “good enough” for God, or whatever. I was chasing hard after sanity, searching desperately for serenity, feeling further and further away from any such thing. I was feeling very disconnected from my essence, my core. I had no idea how to find that connection.

    (Pictured above: Biker Charles from Houston at the 5th World Literature Conference in Warren, Ohio)
  • At least, I knew I wasn’t alone. Just about everyone I knew in N.A. was the same way, or worse. Many thought I had it all together, and I went along with that illusion, not wanting to ruin their image of me. That became something to keep up, that image. At least, as I began journaling, I began admitting these things to myself. I began getting back in touch with who I really was, even if that was someone completely lost and messed up.

    I got a job. That’s something I never had any trouble doing. I could always find jobs. My problem usually was in keeping jobs. This one was as a waiter in a restaurant in Northeast Philly, a Greek-run joint that was kind of a cross between a diner and a fine restaurant. It was my 8th job in a little over a year’s time, since I’d gotten fired from the Warehouse Manager job. I really wanted to stick with this one as long as I could, even though I couldn’t stand it. Work had become just a necessary evil, something I did so I could pay my bills, which were always piling up on me, a constant struggle to keep up with.

    That summer, a lot of folks from the Literature movement, also now with extra time on their hands while we waited for the fellowship at large to weigh in on the draft book, hit the road and began travelling around the country. Whenever they came to Philadelphia, they would always wind up at our place in Ivyland, and I would be their tour guide of the Philadelphia and Bucks County meetings. The biker crew, Charles K. from Houston and Tom the Red from Ohio, were especially wild and crazy, and they just blew into town on freedom’s wings, and I would pull myself away from the grindstone that I was trying to keep my nose to, and feel and taste the freedom of the road while they were in town. I was always humbled and delighted that they came to see me, as I always just saw myself as this dude struggling along to find recovery, who happened to stumble into this literature movement, while they saw me as one of them, one of the writers of the book. So, things would be wild and crazy while they were in town, then would go back to my life of quiet desperation after they left.
  • One of the crazy things that started while they were in town continued on after they left. We’d found a public swmming pool a couple miles down the road from our house that was easy to sneek into at night, and we started hitting the pool after our meetings every night. Before long, everyone was skinny-dipping. For a 3 week period, as summer waned and crept towards Fall and back to college classes and the end of freedom, every other night we’d meet up at the pool after our meetings, sneak through the hole in the fence, shed our clothes, and just go for it for several hours.

    It was rather magical - about 20 guys and girls in various stages of our struggles to recover from addiction, and this little slice of late night freedom, just letting our ya-ya’s out, cutting loose our inhibitions, having a great time naked in the moonlight, fully living in the moment, having a blast. For that brief, 3 week period, I remembered what it was like to just have fun and forget all the problems and worries of the world.

    Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
    I'm not sure all these people understand.
    It's not like years ago,
    The fear of getting caught,
    Of recklessness and water.
    They cannot see me naked.
    These things, they go away,
    Replaced by everyday.

    Nightswimming, remembering that night.
    September's coming soon.
    I'm pining for the moon.

    (From Nightswimming, R.E.M., Berry, Stipe, Buck, and Mills)

    Alas, Autumn, with its cooler air and colder times, was coming soon.
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