The more I investigate, the more I realize that what we know is only a scratch on the surface of truth, of what Einstein called the “persistent illusion” of reality. When I open myself up to even just the ‘possibility’ of there being something out there greater than myself, I also open myself up to perceiving the wonders that surround us always but that we don’t always notice as we make our busy way through life.
A friend at a meeting this morning talked about going for a hike with his brother to a water fall. The trek was much more arduous than they had expected. When they finally arrived, it because a mystical experience for one of them. As they drew closer they heard the sound becoming more and more intense until the cascade slowly revealed itself through the undergrowth of the trees. My buddy saw how the sun was beaming light down through the trees and the mist rising from the water as it hit the rocks on the way down to a blue pool below. He felt the spray, watched the butterflies and took the whole thing in as a Higher Power moment. For his brother, it was a nice waterfall, but it held nothing of the spiritual aspect. Two people, two points of view of the same experience.
Our experience of anything depends upon our perspective and past experiences. Perhaps it’s my bias, but I believe that those of us who have been through difficult times and are making our way through recovery have to, perhaps, work harder than others to see the beauty of things and the wonders of the people and the world around us. Perhaps it’s because we were so wrapped up in ourselves, our ego and our disease that we couldn’t see it before. Perhaps we’re no different than anyone else. But it is important to take the time to look outside of ourselves to stand in awe and appreciate what is happening around us at any particular time. And even if you don’t wish to attribute what you see or what happened to you to your Higher Power, you can still appreciate the ‘miracle’ of it all.
During this time of year, we tend to see more positive things happening around us because our perspective has changed around the holidays and we expect to see the miracle of Christmas. I believe that these things are always happening around us. Every day there are wonders and sights to behold that will cause us to pause if we look for them. If you want to take the magic of Christmas with you through the whole year, then take this attitude with you. Miracles don’t only happen one day a year, or on 42nd Street in NYC or in Bedford Falls with Jimmy Stewart realizing that he’s the ‘richest man in town’. They around around us all the time. But we have to look for them.
From a sunny and hot Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, (don’t be too jealous), I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ¡Feliz Navidad!
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Shakespeare, Hamlet
I still bristle when someone sends me a message on social media that tells me that God is blessing me this day, or that Jesus holds me in his arms. It brings back a past of rules, laws and feelings of guilt and shame. I am grateful for all I learned about religion and its practice but it is not my way of approaching my Higher Power now. There’s nothing wrong with the message. I hope to receive the blessings of my Higher Power and to feel the comfort of the Energy that surrounds and sustains us.
It’s the word God that bothers me, though I still say it. I use the word because it’s easier than explaining my concept of Higher Power. I use the word God and everyone understands that I am talking about something that is more than just me. At the same time, I would prefer that we had another word in English that conveys this concept. The image of an white haired, bearded man perched on a throne in a cloud is no longer my idea of what Source Consciousness is.
I am grateful that my recovery program allows me to choose my own concept of a Higher Power. It was a great relief when I came into the room that it wasn’t full of bible thumping proselytizers who were going to save me. I was able to find a ‘God of my own understanding’. This concept, though I didn’t understand it at the time, gave me an opening into developing a new and very different understanding of connecting to a power that had always been part of my life and brought me to recovery.
I have pretty much given up on trying to define exactly what my Higher Power is. I believe that defining that power will limit it. It’s enough to know it’s here with me. What does continue to change as I live my program is my understanding of that Power. By looking at the faiths of the world and different spiritual practices, I am deepening in my knowledge of how everything seems to work and I am left awed and amazed at how everything fits together. One of the gifts of my past is through it I can follow how the events that happened along the twists and valleys of my path have brought me to where and who I am today. Sometimes, even as things are happening and circumstances are changing, I take a step back and wonder how all of it is going to fit together, because it will. It always does.
The Eleventh Step invites me to improve my conscious contact with this Power by means of prayer and mediation, talking and listening, seeking and reflecting. I open my day by sitting on the terrace and watch the growing light as it illuminates the trees that surround me and enjoy the birds and other creatures passing by. It’s a wonderful way to open to gratitude first thing in the morning. It might not be traditional meditation but it’s working for me at this time. I expect that in the future, as my understanding of this Higher Power grows, how I keep in consciously contact with that Power will also grow. Today I receive the gift and feel the peace of knowing that I am not alone. I am grateful.
As I was going over some of my writing from last week when I was away, I saw in the space at the top of one page I had written: “Most of what’s happening around me isn’t important, it’s a distraction. I can choose what’s important for me.” To be honest, I don’t remember writing it. It’s in the middle of five pages of script. I’ve been reading a lot of material lately with respect to self improvement, so it probably stems from there. And it has caught my attention over and over again in the past couple of days: “Most of what’s happening around me isn’t important, it’s a distraction.”
I was reminded of the 80-20 rule which basically says that 80 percent of the time I am involved in things that aren’t important to me and it’s only the things I do during about 20 percent of my time that help me move forward. The idea with eliminating distractions is to change the percentages more toward more of what is giving me results. Over the past couple of months I’ve been learning what my distractions are and changing my habits.
Photo by Essow Kedelina on Pexels.com
Probably the biggest distraction and time waster for me is my cell phone. How many times a day do I pick that up to check on something? Sure it’s handy, but it is also a tool and not a master that must be attended to every time it beeps and chimes. I eliminated a bunch of apps that are a distraction. And in the morning I leave my cell on the night stand until I have finished my morning meditation, journal writing and walking the dogs. There is just so little that has to be dealt with right as soon as I get up.
Another distraction I have been whittling down: Facebook. I can waste hours going through stroking egos by giving likes to notifications and videos, and making comments. Again, Facebook or other social media isn’t the culprit, it’s the time and attention that I lavish on what is mostly a distraction. Netflix is another distraction for me, especially a series. No longer do I have to ‘tune in next week on the same channel’ to find out what happens next. I don’t even have to click; automatically it opens the next episode. Before I know it, I’m investing another 42 minutes into it. I’ve limited the amount of news I read daily. I choose the videos I watch on Youtube, I stay away from Instagram and Twitter. So what has happened as a result of my limiting my ‘screen time’?
I have written more in the last two months than I have ever written before. Little of it is publishable, nor would I want it to be. But, if I want to call myself a writer, then I have to write. I am reading some of the classics of literature that somehow I failed to read in the past. I am organizing my home to be more conducive to writing and my other goals, including moving my desk to a more pleasant place. I’ve joined the gym again and work out regularly. And I am organizing my priorities. I am working on increasing the 20 percent: focusing on the areas where I wish to grow. I’m creating large windows of time in my day by eliminating distractions and focusing on what is most important for me.