Recently I spent a week hiking in Joshua Tree Monument in the Mojave desert. One of the hikes I took is called 49 Palms Oasis. I tramped through the desert for a couple of hours before the oasis came into view. The towering palms and lush vegetation looked out of place in the middle of miles and miles of mostly lifeless desert - like a bright green emerald had fallen out of God’s pocket into the sand. I rested and relaxed in the cooling shade. I left the oasis feeling renewed. Sobriety for me is like a peaceful oasis in the middle of the desert of alcoholic insanity. I doubt I could explain this magical place to anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves.
I lived in the desert all my life until a moment of clarity led me to Alcoholics Anonymous. Life in the desert is hard, but I didn’t know anything else. I was programmed by parents, teachers and society who had never left the desert. So, like them, I clawed and scratched under the rocks in the hot sun to find tiny bits of pleasure which I mistook for happiness. I was always on edge in the desert—afraid I won’t get the love I needed to survive. Along with booze, I tried everything to find some relief from the constant anxiety: drugs, money, sex, and work, Nothing worked for long. The fear and stress always returned, more painful then ever. Finally, after wandering lost in the desert for forty-seven years, something inside of me cried out for help. I was shown a path to the oasis. It turned out to be only Twelve Steps away!
As I approached the oasis, the God of my own misunderstanding rushed out to greet me and has walked with me ever since. The oasis is still and silent. I can finally rest and be free. I thrive by being, not doing. Life is abundant. Since all my needs are met, I live with a sense of ease and comfort. Oh, there are still challenges, but in the oasis I have faith God will get me out of any mess I get myself into. So why worry? I still venture out of the oasis occasionally, but I don’t tolerate desert life very well so I rush back to the peaceful oasis.
I cannot find the oasis with my mind. It is a journey of the heart. I never would have attempted this journey without having a disease that was killing me. I am so grateful to be alcoholic. Otherwise, I would still be wandering around in the desert. A dried out, brittle, angry man.