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Eric Nowak: Prized medallion holds deep meaning

One of the earth’s precious metals continues to inspire my life daily. Five years ago, I was living in a restless, irritable and discontented state of mind. No individual or object had sentimental value in my life. If I had seen a piece of metal lying in the road, I would have kicked it down the street.

Although my treasure is only of nominal value, earning it came at a very high cost and accepting it meant even more. My priceless, prized possession is a medallion symbolizing strength, dedication and solitude. This March marks the one-year anniversary of my ownership. It passively screams: “One day at a time!”

The medallion is a hard rope of shiny silver pewter, braided to form the appearance of three rings welded together – a miniature crown of thorn branches woven together. On the front face of the medallion are three words inscribed on each of the rings: serenity, courage and wisdom. Serenity symbolizes peace and patience; courage represents the struggles of my journey; and wisdom is the knowledge to never give up or turn back. These three rings mended together illustrate the circle of life.

The back of the circular charm is engraved with the entire Serenity Prayer; again, one line of the prayer per ring of the charm. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” The engravings are faded in certain areas due to firm and constant handling. This prayer is an oath to live my life by.

This half-dollar sized, doughnut-shaped charm is like a lucky purple rabbit’s foot; however, it was not earned by chance or luck; it came with great willpower and perseverance. In October 2009, after plummeting to rock bottom, I sought medical and professional treatment for a 12-year drinking and drugging career. By the grace of God, family, friends and Alcoholics Anonymous, I have been sober ever since.

A mere glimpse of the malleable metal alloy is like pushing a magic Staples “easy button,” erasing my pain and troubles. This serenity coin has more significance to me than any yearly anniversary token, placing ribbon, finisher medal or golden trophy. The medallion is a bright orange life preserver on nature’s wildly rough, rapid ride.

This medallion was not always in my possession. My best friend, with more than 26 years of sobriety, carried this token for two years. Last March, on a sunny winter’s day, Jason called me over to his workspace. My colleague told me about a tattoo he had received the past weekend. He rolled up his sleeve to reveal his forearm bearing an image of the piece of precious pewter. He then pulled the miraculous medallion out of his pocket and gingerly placed it next to the newly inked tattoo. It was a perfect match.

The passing of this small token meant much more than just handing me a piece of metal. I can recite and live by the Serenity Prayer without my powerful protecting amulet, but the offering was a huge sign of his caring and friendship. Jason’s gesture meant that in his eyes, I was someone extraordinary, worthy and deserving of this gift.

I now know the meaning of a true friend as well as the meaning of sentimental value; I equally cherish both. I carry the love and brotherhood of our relationship and the serenity medal close to my heart like a medal of honor.