brian The last time was seven years ago on a cold, wet night that began with a party and ended with a pledge: my anniversary, both terrible and beautiful.

There’s really no way to tell how many drinks I had that night — back when I was doing my thing, it often seemed, glasses full of booze would appear in my hand out of nowhere — but I know it’s a number that would strike a reasonable person as excessive.

I was not a reasonable person back then, at least when it came to the drinking life.

In the years that have passed, I have maintained my abstinence from alcohol and the sort of dry goods that often accompany it mostly by thinking about my new life without them, a future taken in one day at a time.

Now that those days are starting to add up, I feel like maybe I’ve finally got some things to show for it. My life has become more than I ever thought it could before I quit drinking; I’m thankful for it every day.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week, as the sweaters come out from the back of the closet and I can see the end of another year on the horizon: how grateful I am for it all.

We’ve all got a lot of things going on — our family lives, or professional lives, our romantic lives, our intellectual and social lives, our health, our relationships — and right now, for me, they are all more or less working out pretty well.

After seven years of clarity, my life has become more manageable. A lot of the things that were once important to me now don’t matter at all; other things that didn’t even exist the night of my last bender now consume all of my creative energy.

I guess there’s no other big message here except for the eternal ones: The wheel turns; fortunes rise and fall; the things we have are the things we need.

And the future is more important than the past.

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