Monday, March 06, 2006
One of the privileges of living at The House is daily chores. It’s called accountability. The first chore a new resident is often given is cleaning the bathroom every morning. It teaches the virtues of humility, duty, and hygiene. Try to keep this in mind while unclogging the toilet, dissolving leftover after dinner mints in the sink, washing the snot off the shower wall, or scrubbing the crap off the porcelain alter. You’re cleaning up other men’s filth.
It doesn’t matter who you are, sooner or later anger will build up in you, which may lead to resentments. You start telling yourself, This work is beneath me, or Why am I cleaning up after total strangers, I’m not this filthy, or How exactly does this help me recover from alcohol and drugs? This is when I reach for my Higher Power.
Being a former atheist, I choose my late Father as my Higher Power. Having joined the Navy just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor at 16, about the age I was when He passed away, He must’ve experienced similar indignities. These young men, cocky and full of piss & vinegar, barely able to hold a job in the real world, on their own for the first time in their lives most of them, all had a singular goal. All were united in achieving this same goal. And all were in the same God forsaken boat.
Not far from the description of the dynamic going on at The House. Two dozen men, maturity frozen in time since the early days of using, living in close cramped quarters, shitting, pissing, showering, and eating with little privacy. We’re cleaning up after ourselves and others, maybe for the first time in our lives. Eventually trying to find work in the real world. All trying to stay alive.
So when I do these chores and feel anger grow inside me to the point of thinking, I didn’t make this mess, I don’t live this messy, why should I even do a good job? Just what’s required is all that’s needed, I remind myself of the indignities my Father endured that shaped his character and I press on.
Chronological note: This was written much earlier in time and just now posted. Having 24/7 access to the Internet has afforded me the luxury of submitting old stories.