By: Robert Rubinow, LPC
Perusing the musty pages and yellowed dustjackets of my home library recently, I was struck by remembrances of elegant passages that once helped ease dark moments of pain in my life. Some were tickets for voyages to far-away places I could escape to in my imagination when I felt afraid. Other passages lifted my perspective so I could see a clearer horizon beyond the prison of my broken self. Others simply made me laugh out loud when the world seemed only to sigh.
The characters assembled in these books still feel very much like old friends. Friends that have traveled with me for a very long time. Their stories resemble the motley members of my family: beloved and estranged, comical and tragic, drunk and sober. Yet unlike my relatives, their stories transcended the personal; they resonated truths about the world and myself that I could not have seen in the familiar.
Sometimes, we mistakenly assume that newalways means better,and that only the latest resources offer the wisdom and guidance we need for recovery. If you are an avid reader and a fan of great literature, then like me, you know that is not the case; but I must admit, my bias leans backward. While I enjoy expanding my understanding through ongoing research of addiction and relationships, sometimes I prefer to give my overworked left-brain a rest and just soak up the wisdom of beautiful poetry and long-forgotten prose. Recovery need not always be dry and dull—or so clinical.
Rather, tell me a 19thcentury Russian tale of brothers desperately seeking their alcoholic father’s approval in a world which has broken faith and succumbed to madness and grief. Let me walk among red poppies, “between the crosses, row on row,”In Flanders Fields,pondering the meaning of life and death and human freedom.Let me take off my shoes and notice how “Earth’s crammed with heaven/ And every common bush afire with God…”.Let me ride on a bus to paradise and ponder why people (like me) choose not to disembark into the gorgeous realm of all that is faithful and true.
If it has been a while since you’ve taken a break from the grind and treated yourself to a good story, inspirational poem, or adventure upon the high seas, grab your coffee and settle into your favorite chair in a quiet room and sail away. Our emotional health depends upon regular pauses for resting our analytical mind and engaging our right-brained creative self. In fact, we don’t recover fully until we experience life outside the cave of scary shadows,standing in the sunshine of authentic love and joy—not the false euphoria and exaggerated fantasies of our addictions.
Just for fun, check out some of our team favorites:
- Michelle Mays – Peace Like a Riverby Leif Enger
- Bruce Butler – The Impressionistby Tim Clinton
- Cheryl Schenck – Little Fires Everywhere– by Celeste Ng; Before We Were Yours– by Lisa Wingate; A Gentleman in Moscow– by Amor Towles; Anna Karenina– by Leo Tolstoy
- Scott Bradley – The Walt Longmire Series (20 books in the series – so far) by Craig Johnson
- Theresa Dinman – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
- Robert Rubinow – The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle– by J. Glenn Gray
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Trans. Konstantin Mochulsky. The Brothers Karamazov. New York: Random House, 1970.
Lieut. Col. John McCrae, In Flanders Fields. New York: W.E. Rudge, 1921.
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Nicholson & Lee, eds. From, ‘Aurora Leigh’. The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse.
Oxford: Oxford Publishing, 1917.
Lewis, C.S. The Great Divorce: A Dream. Great Britain: G. Bles, 1946.
Plato. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Book VII, The Republic, The Allegory of the Cave. Published 1888.