90 in 90

In AA, newcomers are often urged to attend “90 meetings in 90 days.” I’ve been sober for 20 years, but my 90 days in France has led to a time of disorientation here in Denver, a feeling out of joint, unconnected to things which had been important to me on a daily basis before we left. So I decided to try “90 in 90” again. This has brought me to AA meetings I don’t usually attend, so I feel like a traveler in my own city. But the main thing is that I have a plan. Every day I know there is one thing I will do, no matter what.

I am sure that “90 in 90” would spark forward motion in any area. The genius of the prescription is that it makes the scary word, “daily,” seem palatable. But the fact is that anything I do daily becomes a potent part of my life. I began writing daily for 15 minutes each morning before work on Independence Day 14 years ago. That little beachhead of a habit changed my life, it’s not too strong to say. In Villefranche-sur-Mer, amidst the disorientation of French immersion school, I stumbled on the daily habit of weighing myself in kilograms each morning, and keeping a little chart of my ups and downs in the face of the buttery baguettes and cheese. Just that little bit of dailiness helped anchor me. When I got out of bed, I knew what I had to do next. It also helped keep my weight hovering around 75 kilos instead of creeping up to new personal bests.

When Claire arrives, she will bring a new dose of daily duties, which is part of the terror I feel, but also part of the anticipation. My friend Kes Woodward wrote that he enjoys thinking about “how much she is going to complicate, and enrich, your life.” My daughter, Sarah, is awaiting a little one of the human species, a complicating enrichment of the highest order.

For me, life’s complications and riches are manageable with daily habits. I’m grateful to France for prompting me to freshen up my AA connection with a new 90 in 90. By the time I’m finished, on October 4th, the aspen will be turning yellow in Colorado and there will be a riot of yellow, red, and orange in the woods of New England.

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