Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to a new week and a new Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude always kicks things off on a positive note, which for today is for my recent attendance to the opening game of the season for the Michigan Wolverines football team.

At first, I must admit, I planned on writing an article about my attendance to this game in a far different light, one that would have painted it with anything but gratitude. But the more I pondered it, the more I realized there was plenty to be grateful for in the many challenges I faced while there.

Probably the biggest challenge I faced that became a blessing from attending this game was knowing I did it sober, especially in light of the number of people there who weren’t. From a present stance, being amidst so many who were pounding beer after beer and downing many of those tiny liquor bottles in the bathrooms would have once triggered me into wanting to do the same. Today, not so much, as was evident in how that was the farthest thing from my mind watching so many individuals getting plastered all around me. Getting numb by alcohol or drugs was once my only solution to attending any type of event, especially a sporting one. Nowadays though, through my 12 Step recovery work, I have learned that I can stand amongst thousands of partying people and still enjoy it, yet sober.

Another challenge I faced that became a blessing from attending this mega sporting event was how I was able to do an incredible amount of walking while there, even in the state of physical pain I was in that night. If you’ve never been to the Michigan Stadium before, fondly nicknamed The Big House, then you probably don’t know just how big the monstrosity actually is. Besides the fact that it’s the largest college stadium in the United States and seats well over 100,000 people, it’s a sheer hike just to get around it. I decided during the game that I wanted to explore the entire venue and get away from the throngs of people seated in the stands all around me, so I walked the entire circuit. It took me about 20 minutes, mostly due to the vast crowds. Add in the rather long distance we had on foot to and from where we parked, I definitely got some much-needed exercise and a wealth of gratitude that I was able to walk as much as I did.

And I mustn’t forget to mention the last challenge I faced at the game which dealt with seeing all the camaraderie and school spirit amongst all the undergrads who sat in one large section of the stadium. Back in the day, during my own college days, I rarely attended any university function, especially the biggest which were always the Division 1 hockey games. Sadly, I never went to a single one because frankly I was too focused on expanding my drinking career. I know I missed out on developing some real lasting friendships in college because of it and don’t have any memories of loud cheering and high fives with my old fellow students. So, in light of this, I had to work rather hard to find a blessing in it and what I discovered is that I was ultimately grateful for all those students there who weren’t following in my former footsteps, who weren’t sitting in dark rooms getting drunk or high while such a fantastic sporting event was going on. And just as much, it truly was a gift to share a little in that, even if it was as an adult at an alma mater that wasn’t my own.

So, in the end, while I may have struggled fiercely with remaining present at the opening Michigan game due to a number of challenges I was having that night, I found much to be grateful for and am feeling blessed now I was able to experience it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson