I’m not the world’s biggest Bob Dylan song, but I like him well enough…and I like “The Times, They Are A Changin'” quite a bit. I’m listening to it now as I type this, as I wait for my next online teaching session to begin.
What a different scenario this is from a year ago, to say nothing for how different it is from four years ago before I got sober. A year ago, I was teaching adults to prepare for the GED test, and I hadn’t yet tried online teaching. I hadn’t the faintest notion that I’d start learning the art and craft of piano tuning. The only thing in my life that’s similar between the two periods (except things like my family, and even that’s changed with the passing of some beloved pets) is that I’m still sober.
But my sobriety is changing, along with my job and interests. On the job front, I’m enjoying teaching English to Chinese clients much more than teaching in a traditional classroom. The only stress associated with my current job is healthy stress, like being prepared to go on camera and making sure I’m animated and encouraging. There’s no paperwork, no grading papers, no fights, no talking back, no faculty meetings, no morning and afternoon duty, and all the things I hated about public school and college-level teaching. And my interests have shifted. I still wrote poetry but not daily, and I’m currently not concerned about publishing. I post poems to my writing blog and on Instagram, and that’s enough. I write music, but I’m no trying to market it. It’s fine to just write a song for myself.
My main focus is learning to tune and repair pianos. I recently disassembled my old spinet piano to make room from a newer piano that’s easier to learn on. I’ve never taken apart anything as complicated as a piano before, and it was a good learning experience. Currently, I have the action of my new piano in my mentor’s shop, where I’m learning repairs. I’ve never used tools in this way before. I always told myself I’m terrible with my hands and can’t repair anything…which is not true. I’ve just never tried before. I’m trying now, and though the learning curve is steep, I’m doing it.
With my new work schedule and making time to tune and work on pianos, I’ve had to be creative with my time management. Oh, I’ve also started exercising again and am making sure to eat better. I’m not on a diet or anything, but I’m much more intentional about what I put in my body. For the last four years, I haven’t paid food or exercise more than a passing thought, but now I am.
A hugely important aspect of my continued recovery is napping. I feel so much better if I can lie down in the middle of the day for 45 minutes. During that time, I sleep for about thirty minutes. That’s enough for me to recharge and tackle the rest of the day and evening, which includes making dinner, overseeing homework, interacting with my children and wife and doing housework. I don’t get a nap every day, and some days I don’t need it…but I’m learning how to listen to my body. If it’s hungry, I feed it (and not just junk, but things like carrots and cranberries and almonds, when my default is chips and cookies). If its tired, I rest. It’s funny and sad how I used to make myself drink even when my body rejected the notion; I overrode my instincts almost every single time. SIGH. At least I’m not doing that any more.
The only recovery tool that doesn’t currently fit into my schedule is AA meetings. I haven’t sworn off AA…but it isn’t a priority right now. I expect it will be again in the future. This idea doesn’t sit well with my sponsor, with whom I haven’t spoken in a few weeks. The other day, he texted me and said, Well, I guess you’ve given up. When I received the text, I was in the middle of replacing hammers on my piano’s action. I put down the screwdriver and sent back, No, I’m just busy.
You can never be too busy for AA, he replied.
“Good grief,” I muttered. Really? I get that it’s my sponsor’s job to kick me in the ass sometimes, but this felt like a Big Book-thumper kind of line (actually, he is kind of a Big Book-thumper). And yet I am. It’s fine, I typed and carried on with my work. And it is fine. I’m a grown man who can make his own decisions, and I don’t permission.
That’s it from my sober neck of the woods. Thanks for reading.