Best Laid Plans

There´s a Chinese saying that goes something like: “Man plans and God laughs.” We all can think of times when everything that we planned went so far from the direction that we had planned that even we had to laugh at the disparity between our intentions and the results. I’m learning that my circle of control extends, if I’m lucky, to the end of my reach. After that? Well, it’s up to my Higher Power.

Monday, a couple of weeks ago I was going to pick up a friend at the airport, a two and a half hour drive away. I got a call from him a several hours before I was to leave saying that he had been bumped from his flight and wouldn’t be arriving until Tuesday at the same time. Could I pick him up then? Yes, of course.

For a moment I thought I had a free morning. Then my neighbour Amy came over. Her dog was very ill. She was to fly out the next day to visit her mother and she was worried about her dog and that she’d have to cancel her flight. Fortunately I had my friend’s car so I told her I would drive her to the vet with her dog: a happy circumstance. On the way to the vet, we discovered that her flight time the next day would allow me to drive her to the airport when I was picking up my friend whose flight was changed. Perfect.

While Amy and her dog were with the vet I received a message from another friend Nick. A mutual friend of all three of us had passed away in the US. He was from Nick’s hometown and Nick decided to fly up to go to the funeral and visit family at the same time. He was flying out very early Wednesday morning so he had booked a hotel near the airport. Would he like a ride up on Tuesday?  Sure thing.  The vet was able to diagnose the dog’s ailment, gave him a couple of shots, prescribed some other medications and he would be fine. Amy was very relieved.

Tuesday morning we all loaded into my friend’s car and headed up to the airport. Along the way we were able to discuss how we were feeling about our friend who had passed. Amy was able to talk about her visit with her mother whom she hadn’t seen in seven years. It was one of those impromptu recovery meetings.

I dropped them off, did a bit of shopping, swung back around to the airport to pick up my friend who had been bumped the day before and headed back home. The lesson of the past two days rattled around in my head  as I drove. I could not have put together a more perfect plan for drop offs and pick ups. It was so obvious to me that I wasn’t the one who had executed such a perfect plan.

I’d like to alter the saying that I started with: “Man trusts and God provides.” This was a powerful lesson to me in letting go of the joystick and letting my Higher Power take the lead in arranging things. Yes, I make plans, I recently commented to a friend, but I don’t live in them. I awaken in the morning these days with a sense of “here I am, ready for what is put before me.” Slowly I’m learning that if I keep myself out of the way, doors open and incredible things unfold.

I am grateful.

ancient arch architecture artwork

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The H.O.W. of Recovery

Walking through the door into a recovery meeting for the first time is very daunting. Anyone who has done it though, has made the realization that something has to change or life is going to get even worse. I am grateful for the support that I found in my recovery room and that I continue to find. I realized quite quickly that I really didn’t know ‘how’ to live.  Somewhere along the road of life I had mislaid my owner’s manual. Here I found one that works for me. However, it was, and still is up to me to take on the proper attitude if I am going to be successful in this endeavor: the H.O.W. of recovery.

Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness are what I need to cultivate if I am going to give recovery a fair test. If any one of these is missing I am severely limiting my chances of success in recovery.

Honesty for me is an integrity of person; that what I show to the world and what is inside of me is the same thing. No more lies. No more secrets. No more cover ups. It is being true to who I am, how I am and where I am. It’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude.  For me, honest and humility are pretty much the same thing. It’s not being more than who I am or less than I am. It stating openly ‘this is me’. I let go of ego. This is me with these strengths and these weaknesses. I am no longer sugar coating or trying to impress. 

Open-mindedness is accepting that I don’t have all of the answers. It is saying that it’s not up to me to find all of the answers either. My way of life certainly isn’t the only way. And, if I am really being honest with myself, my way wasn’t working all that well, else why would I have ended up at the doors of a recovery meeting? I can listen to others. I can learn from them and their experiences. I can keep my mind open to other possibilities without automatically shutting down when I hear certain thoughts or ideas like prayer, mediation, spirituality. 

Willingness. I need to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I need to put the effort into applying new habits and principles into my life. I must work, apply and live the twelve steps of the recovery program. I have to be willing to be patient as well, knowing that everything takes time. I was told if I put half the effort into my recovery that I did to keep myself loaded, I would be well on my way to a life that is happy, joyous and free. 

Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness are qualities that I continue to pursue in my recovery. It doesn’t end when I first finish the twelve steps or get my first year medallion. I continue to work and cultivate these qualities on a daily basis. It’s the moment that I think that I’ve ‘got it’ that I begin to lose it.

achievement confident free freedom

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Whose Will?

In the Eleventh Step of recovery we are asked to pray to know what our Higher Power’s will is for us and the power to carry it out. Tall order!

I like to use the metaphor of the bus.  My purpose here on Earth is to ride the bus. I believe that what my HP really wants for me is to enjoy the view out of the window and the other passengers that are sitting around me. We can learn from each other, chat about what is happening on the bus and what we’re seeing outside. We can even move seats once in a while for a new perspective and new seat mates. My Higher Power has it all under control.

Problems come, however, when I think that I’m capable of doing other things.  I should be able to drive the bus. Heck, it doesn’t look that hard. So I slip into the driver seat and take over. Oh, I might do okay for the first bit, but the real test comes when the road gets rough, full of curves and blind corners. I don’t have the experience for that. Perhaps I think that I should be the one taking the tickets. Maybe I think I would be better at choosing the route the bus is taking, or the timetable. You had better hope nothing happens to the engine when I start to think that it would be my job to fix the bus. It’s my ego that says I don’t need a driver or a mechanic, but do I really know the difference between a tie rod and and tire iron?

red and white bus toyWe can all point to occasions when we surrendered, left things in our HP’s control and it went far better than we could ever have imagined. When I try to impose my ‘will’, my ‘control’ upon things, that’s when the bus starts to slide toward the shoulder of the road.

So what’s my Higher Power’s will for me?

I believe that my purpose in life is to become the best Tim I can possibly be. When I need to make a decision, I can look out the bus window and allow it all to flow through my senses. It’s then that inspiration might hit. Or I can chat with my seatmates to come up with an solution. I can change my seat for a different perspective of the landscape and other riders. I can even go talk to the bus driver and ask where we are headed. What I don’t want to do is think that I can do it all on my own. I’ve learned that trying to control everything doesn’t work. Doing that got me dropped off at the bus stop in front of a meeting hall.

This is a metaphor that works for me. When I am uncertain of what I should do in a situation I ask myself, am I riding the bus or am I driving the bus? Am I trying to control something outside of me? Is my ego involved? Is this the road heading to the best person I can be? And if I’m still unsure, I can always ask those around me as well as the driver. Usually the answer is for me to sit down, look out the window, and enjoy the view because my Higher Power is looking after the rest.