ThePicture of Serenity

This painting is twenty someodd years old.

It was in an old pile of watercolors. And it was here that I found my soberity therapy. So to speak.

Simply put; I started painting and drawing to keep busy during early sobriety.

Before New Year’s eve 1994 I would drink myself into a black out every night. On that night, I pushed away a glass of champagne at midnight. The first and drink I ever pushed away.

But, my new sober life came with complications. A lifetime insomniac, I was no longer even getting the brief and unrestful moments that came with passing out. I was a wreck; tired, nervous and with way too much time on my hands.

What to do with the time?

I began to doodle. Just draw. Then I drew cartoons. I had long wished to be a cartoonist. I dreamed of drawing a strip in the tradition of Johnny Hart or Charles Schulz. I devolped a cast of characters who loved in a three panel strip. I bought a bunch of large yellow envelopes, stamps and smaller SASE, ( self addressed stamped envelope). And mailed of examples of my work.

All this begin my collection of rejection slips.

Some nights I would paint. Traveling through the Rocky mountains in fall. I was inspired by the ‘changing of the Aspen’. My mom would mention the lack of colors. She missed the multi colors hues of her birth home. But I was struck by the golden falling leaves forming rivers of yellow across the highway.

I came home and started painting this one in watercolor.

I was hugely disappointed. The picture came out dull almost lifeless. I could not capture those flowing leaf rivers of gold. The figure of my son faded into the shadows. I wanted to be a landscape artist but it was not working.

After a few years I put away my brushes and paint. The Obsession of alcohol had been removed thanks to my higher power.

And then, years later, at a speaker meeting, I was inspired and took up the brush again. Cleaning out my basement, this last weekend, I found a dusty pile of old pictures.

Going through the big pile of old paintings, I sorted out the potential, from the completely failed. It was like throwing out my children.

But there were a few that I thought I might be able to touch up after all these years.

But, the real point, the lesson to be learned here is: I stayed sober, (or at least a nondrinker; a story for another time). This was due, in part, by the gift of artistic expression, thank you God!

I often encouraged my sponsees to embrace their creative side. Those that have one. Recently, I had a chat with the young man who claims no artistic tenancies at all. Not that I want to sound judgmental, but it’s like talking to a blind man about color.

Oddly the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous has little to say about art and drinking. I say oddly because, so many creative and artistic types seem to also be alcoholics.

Recently, I came home angry and tired. In a rage, I walked past my wife and pack of dogs got out a canvas and starts splashing paint.

In due time, I found a state of calm and tranquility what we in AA call Serenity.

Strangely enough, the painting I came up with was a peaceful mountain scene at sunset.

Best of all I stayed sober.

So, if you see me sitting there in the breakroom, scratching away at my sketch pad, if you want to know what I am drawing; it is the picture of serenity.

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