Climbing carefully onto the sailboard, as it dipped up and down with the small waves, I slowly pulled on the rope connected to the sail and started hauling it up and out of the water. As soon as the edge cleared the water the wind caught it and my board began turning downwind. Hauling on the rope faster now as my balance became more difficult I raised the sail all the way up, positioned my feet toward the rear of the board, grabbed the boom and instinctively adjusted the sail until it filled with wind. My board surged forward, propelled by the wind. Around my hips is a harness that has a hook protruding in the front and as the wind threatens to rip the sail from my grasp I quickly snag the boom rope with the hook and settle back, guiding the sail with my hands, but using my hips and lower body strength to counter balance the wind. The right combination of board, sail, skill and wind makes for an exhilarating ride. Getting in the grove, I lean way back, the board rides on its side rail—and as us windsurfers call it—I start “nuking” across the water.
However, the problem is getting just the right combination of wind and sail. The goal is to neither be underwhelmed nor overwhelmed. Too little wind or too small of a sail just leads to frustration; with too little wind, you can’t hook in because the opposite force of the wind against you won’t hold you up, the board will lay flat on the surface of the water instead of up on one side or on the “rail” and it is far more difficult to go where you want to go. Too much wind or too big of a sail will cause you to be overpowered and completely out of control. Plus if the wind grabs the sail just right, causing it to slam down in the water, you will be flung projectile style like a sling shot out and over the water as the hook releases you right at the apex of the arc. So I suppose the goal in windsailing is to be “whelmed.”
In sobriety I need the correct combination to live “whelmed”—which means to “flow or heap up abundantly.” Often in sobriety for me life feels overwhelming and way more than I can take. I feel as if I am careening through my days, out of control and on the verge of being catapulted into some sort of disaster. Other times my life seems sooooo underwhelming, even boring. At times I find it difficult to live one day, one step, at a time as I learn how to take care of all the mundane, ordinary tasks that normal people seem to do easily.
So it got me thinking what is the “right” combination to live “whelmed” in sobriety—how do I live right in the flow, with life heaped up abundantly? My sponsor taught me that the three parts of our program are recovery, unity and service. Those three are the solutions to the three-part disease of alcoholism—physical, mental and spiritual. It seems that when I follow the specific directions outlined in the Big Book, with practice I get the combination right. More and more I am able to pack amazing things into the stream of my life. More often than not I am able to live happy, joyous and free in a life that is only getting better and better. Yes there are still days when I am extremely overwhelmed and even more days when I am completely underwhelmed, but those are getting fewer and farther all the time. These days, more and more, I am hooked in, leaned back and “nuking” across my 24 hours.