Thursday, July 6, 2017


They cling to the wall like limpets in a fish tank. The braver ones scramble across the floor spending almost as much time prone as they do upright. I skate through a minefield of bodies in various stages of collapse.

A clear minority are comfortable on skates gliding past their wobbly classmates.Some hold hands, supporting each other precariously, sliding and flopping about.

That was the scene I witnessed on a recent trip to the local skating rink. It looked quite different from my youthful days when almost everyone was comfortable cruising around on wheels.

 Kids can't skate anymore!

Clearly gross motor skills have fallen victim to neglect and indifference. Perhaps our youth spend way too much time bent over their phones strengthening their thumbs while their quadriceps lie prone on the sofa. It seems that most of the gliding, leaping, and twirling now takes place on video screens.

Or maybe the proliferation of organized sports and summer camps has squeezed out the neighborhood sidewalk time we baby boomers logged while learning to skate. In today's age of safety concerns and working parents there are fewer opportunities for old-fashioned free play outside with friends.

As I reflect upon the scene described above I can't help but draw a parallel to recovery. As active addicts and alcoholics we relied upon an altered version of reality. We weren't really skating in the rink.

 We were playing the video version in our heads while our normal friends were learning to balance and glide, taking their knocks. As they learned we stayed on the sidelines, often allowing others to support us. We were like those kids who had never learned to skate.

No wonder it's so hard when we first get out there! 

Sometimes we need a sponsor to make sure we strap on those skates, someone to hold our hand when we take those tentative first steps.

Sometimes we fall—a lot. 

At times our skates are knocked out beneath us. Like an out of control skater colliding recklessly with others our life circumstances challenge us. That is when we reach for two hands to hold us—our sponsor on one side and God on the other.

We can be like the cling-ons on the wall, hanging onto the bottle, or the pills, or whatever. Or we can get out there and collect a few bruises.

The kids who are willing to do that learn to skate much faster. The same is true for us.