October 12 – Three Reasons to Celebrate
Today, October 12, is a special day.
Why? In addition to simply celebrating another day of Better Life, here are my top three reasons to celebrate today.
Reason # 1 – Discovery Day
On Monday, October 8, the United States (and other countries) observed “Columbus Day” as a holiday. Similarly, today, the Bahamas (and other countries) recognize Discovery Day.
Discovery Day commemorates Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the “New World.” His initial landfall is thought to be on one of the Bahamian islands, what he called Guanahani, on this day in 1492.
Present day, this is observed as a holiday and a day off from work for many Bahamians. Locally, it coincides with a weekend-long bottom-fishing tournament and other activities (beach parties, dominoes challenges, etc.). So let the celebrations commence!
Reason #2 – Slick’s Birthday
One of my favorite people on the island – in fact, on the planet – is Slick, and today is his birthday. Bonefish Slick (real name Oliver) also happens to be Beau’s cousin, although I met Slick years before I met Beau. Back in those days, Slick was a bit more of a wild man, and I was a wide-eyed touristy teen. I still remember one sunny winter day 25 years ago, sitting outside the local bar in a gazebo by the sea and declining the offer of a beer from a man ten years or more my senior. (A beer! I was 15 or 16, and my parents would have killed me.) Yup, that was Slick. He just laughed and went on his merry way.
A few years later, Bonefish Slick demonstrated to me the fisherman part of his nickname. Along with another fishing guide, Slick took me and my brother and two boatloads of family friends out for a wonderful day of bonefishing.
Since my move to the island on a more permanent basis, I’ve come to know Slick much more personally. He has a heart of gold and an infectious laugh and is a loyal friend. These days, Slick continues to thrive as an outstanding fisherman and guide. He also serves as surrogate parent to Beau’s dog, Milo, who follows Slick like a shadow when he’s lost track of Beau. Slick also is wonderful with children and spent hours in our volunteer program with the local kids this past summer.
Beau and Slick are close, and Slick has embraced me tightly as family. He’s an excellent cook and will send native dishes over for me to eat, and he looks out for me in other little ways. Slick has an open and loving heart and is simply a stand-up guy. He’s overcome many obstacles that would have been (and have been) the demise of other people. For this, and for the man he is, I have immense respect and love for him.
Happy Birthday, Slickie!
Reason #3 – A Special Anniversary
Today marks the first anniversary of something I hope to celebrate for many years to come.
Today, someone dear to me celebrates a year of sobriety.
This time last year, my heart clutched in fear, my stomach roiled with anxiety, and my eyes filled with tears as I observed my loved one battle the early stages of detox and recovery from alcohol/addictions. This was something I had never previously encountered up close and personal, and it scared the daylights out of me.
In the year that followed, I learned a lot about addictions and recovery. I have incredible thanks and respect for reputable rehab programs and the almighty powers of AA – Alcoholics Anonymous. More significantly, I have more-than-words-can-describe respect for my loved one who has conquered and thrived.
From time to time, people will hear “my story” about leaving everything for life on an island, and some of these people tell me I am brave. Hah! It’s all in the eyes of the beholder, I suppose, but, to me, entering a detox facility is brave. Confiding in family and friends about stigmatized addictions is brave. Sticking it out through a rehab program is brave. Ending toxic relationships is brave. Returning to work where people may have whispered at the long absence (and prior downward spiral) is brave. Redefining friendships is brave. Finding new interests and ways to have fun is brave. Maintaining sobriety – as in, never have a single drink – for an entire year (with many more to follow) is brave.
Today, My Brave One, I celebrate you. You are a brave, strong, centered, spiritual, loving, positive, open-minded, open-hearted, funny, smart, talented human being. You inspire me. You are one of my very best friends, and I love you with every ounce of my being. My heartfelt congratulations and continued best wishes to you on your first anniversary!!!
Today, I also celebrate any of you Better Lifers or your loved ones who are conquering these challenges. Your Better Life awaits you!
Happy October 12th, everyone!