― Meister Eckhart
We'd get out our cigar box of broken crayons and decorate the outside with emblems of springs, yellow daisies and rabbits and the iconic 70's smiley face, then we'd attach a handle to the cone and stuff it full of whatever spring flowers we could filch from Mom's flower beds, usually the early blooming roses and iris's. With baskets in hand, we'd stealthily prowl the neighborhood, looping the handles of the baskets over the doorknobs of our unsuspecting prey, then we'd knock on the door, or ring the doorbell, and run like heck around the corner of the house, waiting for the inhabitants to come to the door and find the May Day surprise we'd left for them. Most of them opened the door and looked out and a scowl would form over their features right before they slammed the door. It seemed, the Hickey kids had played this game one too many times without leaving a surprise. But in the jubilant spirit of spring and the exuberance of youth, we persevered with the knocking and running until our beleaguered victim finally flung open the door to give chase. It was then they would spot the dangling basket of posies. I tell you, it would stop them in their tracks and we'd have to stifle our giggles as the angry expressions on their faces turned to chagrin and finally to a wistful nostalgia as they remembered their own days as marauding May Day basket hooligans.
Today is the first day of May, May Day, and several of my friends on the Moderation Management Mainlist are embarking on a 30 day abs period. Today is Day 1, the most difficult day of all. For today, that is. Tomorrow, tomorrow will be the most difficult day of all. It is woefully easy for me to look back and remember what got me through those first days of not drinking, I was usually coming off of a bender, and sickeness, physical and spiritual sickness, is what fueled all the early days of abstinence for me.
I wish it hadn't been that way. Instead I wish I could have laid careful plans for my first day and the days that followed. I have often been asked how I quit drinking, the simple answer is, "I just quit drinking." but that is not the answer they're seeking, and it's not completely the truth. "I just quit drinking." lots of times but "just not drinking" wasn't enough to keep me from drinking again. What finally made me able to not drink again, was to find more and more things in my life that were more important than my drinking, and then I had to nourish them until I loved them enough to not want to see them suffer from the neglect and apathy that went hand in hand with my drinking. It wasn't one single thing, it was a basketful.
So if I'd been lucky enough to start a 30 day abs period, or a forever abs period on May 1, without my usual hangover, I'd look at those 30 days as if they were a giant May Day Basket and I'd pack it full of things I could fall in love with. Writing, biking, gardening, knitting, painting, charity, my kids... are just a few of the things I might put in that basket. If I ran out of things that I thought I could fall in love with, I'd go dumpster diving until I found something, even if I had to dig down to the very bottom past all kind of rotting stinking garbage, even if it's survival was doubtful. Then I'd pour all my efforts into saving it.
That's what I'd do. I'd spend this month doing my damnedest to fall in love with something. Anything. Lots of things. I'm sure, in the first few days, I'd be like my old neighbors and I'd keep opening the door with a scowl to see nothing there, but I'd keep answering that knock on the door until I found the gift that was waiting for me. Just so that on May 30, if I'd tried my hardest, if I'd given my utmost best effort, I would be holding in my hands something precious, something that I loved more than drinking.
Maybe more than one thing.
Maybe a whole basketful of things.
Maybe just myself.
P.S. Best wishes for all you, MM May abser's, you can do this if you keep your basket full. If any of you want to share what things you're finding to fall in love with along the way please tell us about it in the comments. In addition, if any of my fellow bloggers would like to share what got you through those first few days and weeks of abs, please do.