On Tulip Bulbs and Recovery

I’ve been writing a series on recovery. My particular bag of choice was liquor, but yours might be different. Perhaps you’re into pills, or eating, or not eating, or materialism. No matter; we’re all in recovery from something. Welcome to the Recovery Room. (And while you’re here, please consider liking my Facebook page to receive Recovery Room updates.)



I have been considering the tulips, the way their bulbs lie numb through the winter months, how they wake under the weight of thawing. There is a sense in which this waking must be an act of persistent and violent grandeur, how the green shoot splits the top of the woody bulb, how it cuts a path upward through inches of cool soil. I wonder whether the heart of the tulip trembles in the sprouting.

I consider the tulips in no small part because the city of Fayetteville has planted them by the dozens in the median flower beds. They are a flamboyant, theatrical shade of red, a red worthy of a cirque de soliel costume or the door of a Wes Anderson film. They are a bawdy red, one that might draw you into the depths of its bosom on your morning drive, causing you to rear-end the commuter in front of you.

This town comes alive in the Spring–the bradford pears wafting pungent across the green spaces, the redbuds tufting up like lucious, tree-sized cotton candy. The rolling Ozarks wash neon green with new buds. There is so much new life, but my eye is drawn to the tulip, the bulb which is planted in autumn and waits patiently in the median planters on College Avenue.


Before the tulips bloomed, perhaps before they were planted, I shared the swelter of an Austin weekend with some fine friends at a conference. I woke with the pulse of a hungover Saturday morning, marched myself to a sister and recovering alcoholic and asked, “how did you know that you had a drinking problem?” Her answer was short, but sweet.

“You know; don’t you.” She posed this less of a question and more as a statement of fact.

For the next several hours she posed gentle questions. [tweetherder text="Do you scald your drinks? Do you drink before the work day ends? Do you lie... about how much you're drinking?"]

“Do you scald your drinks?”

“Do you drink before the work day ends?”

“Do you lie to your wife about how much you’re drinking?” [/tweetherder]

She listened with quiet spirit and tenacious ear.

“I can’t tell you whether you have a problem,” she said, “but there are paths to recovery. Some choose AA; others chose therapy; some dig into community and white-knuckle..."

Continue Reading at A Deeper Story.