There I was standing behind my friend – helping him clean up at the sink in our home.
Leaning over him cleaning my hands with the hot water running from the faucet, when he started to reach out with one of his hands.
Stopping him with the concern that he would burn himself with the hot water – he started reaching out with his other hand as I placed the first one back onto the sink.
“What are you doing?” I said to him, “Stop messing around. You’ll get burnt with this water. It’s hot,” “I told him again.”
You see, when I met this young man he was living in a group home.
A home provided by the state that helped him with his disabilities.
His so-called maladjustments to life.
His body may not have been sharp, but let me be the first to tell you that that’s where it stopped.
He was bright all right, bright in the sense that he knew what he wanted and how to get it.
That’s for sure.
The young man that I was taking care of was non verbal – meaning – and for lack of any better words – he was unable to speak in any traditional way.
But let me say this right off the bat, he spoke in volumes.
With signs that were modified by him that he knew. It was up to us to learn and interpret what he was asking or wanting.
Oh, sure, he knew how to say please and thank you. Drink or more. One of his favorites was the sign for milk – lots of milk.
You knew if he was happy and believe me – you knew if he wasn’t.
He knew how to write phonetically on a Qwerty board. He would spell out things that he wanted or needed or just to say hi.
He even asked for his room to be painted red – all red. But that’s a story for another time.
When I met him a few years before he lived with me, the people that ran the group home told me he was unteachable.
That he had learned all that they were able to give. That he had reached his potential in his learning with his disability.
I think of today in my recovery – had they told me that I was unteachable.
That I couldn’t – for whatever reason – that that was it.
That you’re hopeless to learn how to stay sober and clean.
Sorry we can’t help you, thanks for coming.
But they didn’t – they said, “Just keep coming back; it gets better.”
They were right.
Looking back now and seeing with somewhat of a clear mind. There were teachers all around me or better yet – and I love this – agents of God, as I call them.
People that came into my life to show me things, anything really.
From my parents to my brothers to my school teachers of my youth.
To my heroes of life. The cowboys and firefighters to the astronauts that I would look up into the night sky dreaming on flying to the moon with them.
To my favorite comic book writer. To the people that would show me how to do the things to live a happy, useful life.
Then there were the ones that showed me the road or the door on using – by their own actions this was shown. How to get it and where.
And there came a time that I did it all on my own. Just think – no more teachers, I thought.
Learning all I needed to know for my life seemed right back then.
Heedless of where my drinking or what my behavior was doing to me.
But no one showed me the end.
Oh, I’ve seen people get sick or even pass away. But that wasn’t me.
The denial of this disease is wider then any ocean I’ve seen.
But when the end comes – as it surely does with us – there are some lessons that can’t be taught – they have to be lived, or we die.
Now I have new teachers.
Ones that have done the things that help me on this road of life.
The changes – the up’s and down’s – showing me by example what to do on a daily basis to live happy, joyous and free.
Teaching me the ropes, as they say, on cleaning up my life – and there have been many.
Thank God for that too. I just stopped looking or thinking I needed them.
But they were there.
Being open and willing was just the beginning to this journey that has many ways to live a happy life.
I really only have two types of teachers today.
What to do and what not to do.
Being teachable, willing to learn new things about myself. Staying in the now.
And there I was standing behind my friend.
Helping him clean up in the bathroom of our home. Thinking he was the one I was showing what to do when that God moment struck.
I stepped back and said, “What is it you want to do.”
He slowly reached out and started to turn the faucet on. Taking my hand into his to feel the temperature of the water – not too hot – not too cold. Just right.
Seeing him slowly reaching for the soap by the side of the sink and it hit me like a freight train.
“Do you want to wash your hands?” “I asked?”
With a big smile and a sign that said yes. We washed our hands together.
I had stopped being the teacher and was being taught. They say, “When you’re ready, the teacher will appear.”
Here was someone that when meeting them for the first time they said he was unteachable.
One only has to be open and willing to see that the only one teachable was me.
That I just had to let it happen – being open to learn from the Unteachable…