March 25, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

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Keith trying to grow a beard.

After 10 days of seclusion, I’ve recognized one lie I’ve told myself for years. Back when I was using, I assumed I’d eventually be locked up by the state for some period of time. My vision of, say, five years in prison—always, for some reason, in solitary–would be that I’d spend 12 hours a day doing sit-ups and push-ups, six hours a day reading the classics of literature and six hours a day sleeping. By the time the warden gave me my walking papers and bus ticket, I’d be insightful, witty and buff as hell. When I got into recovery, I changed the scenario so I was now falsely convicted, but I still worked out and read and got released a new man.

Ten days into my solitary sentence, though, I’ve yet to do a single pushup or sit-up, and the closest I’ve come to reading the classics is listening to the audiobook of an old favorite. However long this period lasts, I’m not sure I’m going to change myself completely, whether physically or intellectually. I do, however, have some lighthearted suggestions for ways to pass time as we await whatever the future holds.

  1. Discover if you have a green thumb! Plant whatever seeds you have lying around into dirt and see what happens. (If you’ve chosen a path of abstinence from weed, please do not look through your old hoodies to see if any seeds ever dropped down into that mysteriously deep fold at the bottom of the pocket.) I am not able to try this, although it sounds like fun, because the only seeds I have around are poppy seeds, and I’m in long-term recovery from opiates.
  2. Grow a beard! What can be more exciting than springing out of bed each morning to see if the unshaven mug you laid down with has been transformed into a beard? This activity is even more challenging for women, making it suitable for longer-term isolation.
  3. Tag for 1! Everyone’s a winner is this variation on an old childhood game. Sit or stand with at least one finger extended. Touch yourself on one part of your body and shout “Tag!” After cursing your luck, tag another part of your body, shouting, “Tag!” This game offers both upper body exercise and a chance to meet the authorities likely to be called when your neighbors hear you.
  4. Word Games! Try an old favorite like many as many words or phrases as you can out of a phrase. For instance, given “Hope for NH Recovery” and a bit too much coffee, I came up with:
    –Phony chore forever
    –Honor chef over prey
    –Very hoof horn creep
    It troubles me to say those three lines are as poetic as any I’ve ever written in my life

I do hope these activities will help you pass the time. Even more, I hope this silliness helps you recognize how much you miss gathering together with other folks in recovery and sharing that energy we generate as a group. In the meantime, please, please, please reach out a hand to others, whether to offer or to ask for help. We are all in this together. Really.

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Best,

Keith