I did leave a lot behind in 2011. It was mostly stuff that in old time gospel terms I just needed to lay down, the accumulation of years of hoarding what wasn’t mine in mind and spirit. But the big news is what I didn’t leave behind.
I didn’t leave behind family and they didn’t leave me behind. Telling the truth to those who have known you forever is the most courageous challenge a person can ever face. To be cut off from kith and kin cuts the deepest against the human psyche. I didn’t say that they understand either transition or recovery. I said I didn’t leave them behind.
I didn’t leave behind my values of fair play and justice. In fact, now that my values are not being crushed by shame and addiction, they have come roaring back as strong as when I was a teenager.
I didn’t leave behind my sense of responsibility as a good citizen, worker, contributor to the common good, despite what candidates will spout for votes.
I didn’t leave behind my deep fondness for things of creation – mountains, seas, deserts and all the creatures therein. Nor did I leave behind the spiritual roots of that fondness, roots that sink into both Christian faith and Native American spirituality.
I didn’t leave behind the good things I know how to do. I can still work on my own car. I can still drop a dry fly on top of a trout. I can still handle firearms with the respect I learned as a kid without all the extreme political nonsense. I can still read complex thoughts and understand them, better than I’ve been able to in a long time.
It’s what I didn’t leave behind that defines me, not the baggage I dropped off the wagon train in the middle of the desert.