If buying and reading self-help books and programs were the answer, I should be the most enlightened, most spiritual, and most informed guru on the planet. I’m not. Wayne Dyer, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey and Neale Donald Walsch are inspirational writers that I admire. Each has a great message and each delivers it in his own way. I also admire the stories of the Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus whose lives inspire and challenge me. And yet, with all this information I was not spiritually awake, financially successful, influential or talking with God. Why? Because with all I had read, I had either failed to apply it to my life in order to achieve my goals or I had blamed someone or something else for my failure.
We all know the joke that, apparently, buying a membership to a gym won’t get you the body you want. If I desire to have a body like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, reading his biography won’t get it for me. I have to do the work. (And also figure out how to grow six more inches!) There is no short cut, no magic pill; no easier, softer way. Very often in life I see the end result and fail to appreciate and understand the difficult process of trial and error that was necessary to get there. Picasso’s mother probably looked at his first drawing and said, “That’s nice dear. Here’s some more paper. Go draw some more.” Gertrude Stein submitted poems for 22 years before having one published. And Charles Atlas was a scrawny kid who got tired of being pushed around. We focus on the end result of these people and have the expectation that I can achieve that too. Well, I can, only it’s not going to happen over night!
In my teen years when my whole life was before me and there were so many choices, I wished I could be where I was supposed to be in my life, doing what I was supposed to be doing. I didn’t want to go through all the intervening steps to get there. I wanted to get directly to the destination and skip the journey all together. But few of us are born prodigies. I had to do the work to get where I wanted to go. If you want to get to Carnegie hall, you have to practice.
Along the way I have come to enjoy the journey. I am learning to apply what I learn from the programs and books I read. Through this process I have learned a very important lesson. I am the one who is responsible. I am the one who has to do the necessary work to get where I want to go. I have often repeated, “Faith can move mountains, but bring a shovel and wheelbarrow.” If I fall short, or struggle along my journey I can’t blame others. I can’t blame my addiction. I can’t blame my parents or my sexuality or what country I was born in. At some point I have to say: “Here I am with my shovel and wheelbarrow. From here on in, it’s my responsibility to move forward.” I am responsible for this ship sinking or floating; me and no one else.
I recently heard this saying. “In order to succeed, I only need to get up one more time than I fall down.” Falling down is all part of the process. I learn by applying what that fall has taught me and try not to let that happen again. It is only a failure when I fail to apply what I have learned. The nice part about all of this is that I don’t have to do it alone. Those who wrote those programs and books have learned a lot of lessons that I now don’t have to go through. Ultimately though, I am the one who is responsible for the doing or not doing, for the applying or not applying this to my own life.
Sorry about that magic pill you were looking for. I want to write; so I have to write. I want to paint; so I have to paint. It takes doing. It takes time. Gradually I will become better and better at it. And it takes responsibility to myself and to my goals to get to where I want to go. I guess I have learned from all those books I have read over the years. It just took a really long time to sink in.
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At the suggestion of a reader I have added a new page to the blog: Recovery Resources. Here I have links to AA, NA, Al-Anon and other helpful resources for those just starting their journey as well as those who are already enjoying the river. I have also added a Google Translate link to the site on the right sidebar if you prefer to read this or share this in another language. Let me know of your thoughts and possible additions that might be helpful.
Once again, please like and share, not to stroke my ego, but for those who need the courage, strength and hope to start and continue their journey down Recovery River.