This morning finds me walking the wide deck of the grand ocean liner Queen Mary. I am sailing in the North Atlantic somewhere just east of Nova Scotia on the second day of a seven day journey to Southampton, England.
The weathered teak deck is spotless. The varnished steamer chairs face the ocean in perfect lines. I look past the rails to the pale wash of blue sky streaked with soft clouds, the cobalt waves dotted with flashes of white foam.
Strong pure nature invites me to find my own strength. I am grateful for the buffeting of the chilly six a.m. wind, the serenity of the deck, the graceful intelligence of the ship’s design.
A gentleman in a yellow rain suit aims his power washer at the painted white rails and the large plate glass windows facing on the deck. I wonder if he would agree to scrub me as well. I could use a good washing.
Already I have fallen off the wagon and, sullied and ashamed, climbed back on again. The temptations on board were too much for my fragile recovery: a half dozen saloons, cigar lounge, champagne bar, casino. One mojito at the outdoor Sail Away Party and three months of sobriety disappeared into the famous Atlantic fog. Then came wine, menthol cigarettes (ugggh), quarter slots and hopeless flirting with an indifferent Englishman.
Relapse is shameful and depressing. One drink and my year of sobering up seemed to have evaporated more rapidly than the wash water on the deck.
The early morning, however, brings a new and welcome perspective. Though sheepish and suffused with self-contempt, I am grateful that i did not drink on the second night and have started my recovery anew. I am thankful for my Higher Power who led me away from my self-annilation onto this lovely promenade and the embrace of a pure bright bracing blue day.
I breathe in the sea and feel love, feel hope.