Vermont News Guide - Page 15

Benjamin Lerner is a recovering addict , composer , writer , musician , and radio host . He has been sober and clean since June 13th , 2016 . In his weekly column , CLEAN , he shares his personal journey - and lessons he has learned from his life in recovery . Benjamin lives in East Arlington , Vermont .
The robust smell of garlic mashed potatoes lingered in the air as a strong gust of wind rattled the eaves of my apartment in East Arlington . I was three years sober , and I was enjoying a quiet evening at home . It had been three weeks since I had completed my first live performance as a musician in recovery , and I had started to settle back into my daily routine .
Although I was grateful for my artistic victory , it had come with a noticeable drawback : due to the increasing frequency of my creative commitments , the owners of the restaurant I worked at had been forced to cut my shifts in half . I had adjusted to my recently-imposed financial limitations with a mixture of willpower and frugal ingenuity , but it was clear that I had to find a new source of income in the near future .
As I sprinkled a pinch of rock salt onto a plate of lightly-spiced root vegetables , I felt a sublime and liberating sense of cool-headed contentment . After living in Southern Vermont for almost a year , I had fully acclimated to the pace of rural life . I had also learned to masterfully maintain the balance between my service job and my arts residency fellowship . The stress and unease that formerly dominated my mental landscape had been replaced by lucid confidence . It was a feeling of comfortable tranquility that I relished with great enthusiasm .
Suddenly , I heard my phone ring . It was the music producer who oversaw my artistic residency . I casually twirled my fork in the air as we proceeded to trade sardonic and lighthearted witticisms in-between bites of my meal . I was expecting the conversation to drift towards


the musical project that we were working on together , but my initial thoughts were instantly invalidated when he revealed the surprising reason for his call .
“ I know that you ’ ve been worried about not having the money to pay your bills , because your work at the recording studio has been interfering with your day job . I think I ’ ve come up with an inventive solution . I ’ ve read your social media posts where you talk about your journey of recovery . It ’ s clear that you have a real passion for writing . I own several magazines , and I want you to come work for me as a staff writer . Is that something that would interest you ?”
I dropped my fork down onto the plate as I pondered his enticing , yet intimidating offer . I didn ’ t know if it was a good idea to change careers when I had only recently adapted to my newfound circumstances . I was ecstatic that I had been offered an exciting new job , but I didn ’ t want to endanger my recovery and sacrifice my serenity . I held my breath in stony silence as I grappled with the important decision that I had been presented with . I didn ’ t know what to do . It was then that I recalled the wise words of a friend from my sobriety fellowship :
“ Recovery is all about learning to be comfortable with discomfort . If we refuse promising opportunities due to fear of failure , we will find ourselves repeatedly stuck in stagnant and disappointing cycles . As long as we remain willing to take things one day at a time , we can move past the temporary awkwardness that accompanies significant positive changes with strength and courage .”
After a drawn-out pause , I made the decision to accept my producer ’ s job offer . I had no experience as a professional writer . I didn ’ t know how I was going to make it work . All I knew was that I was grateful to be sober , ready to face my fears , and excited to move past my comfort zone .
Always remember :
Keep moving forward . Run towards the truth . Don ’ t quit before the miracle happens .
Visit aa-intergroup . org / directory . php for a comprehensive list of online and phone-based AA meetings .
For local meetings visit tpcbennington . org or call 802-442-9700 .
December 6 , 2021 Vermont News Guide 15