Commit to Your Journey

Happy New Year!

I was going to write a rather lengthy article about time for today, but I decided against it: For many of us, we were up late last night celebrating. Even if we don’t imbibe, the lack of sleep from one night affects our concentration. So I would like to offer some thoughts on commitment.

I am grateful for many things I have learned in recovery. One of the greatest is that I can start again. If I fall, I can get back up. If I fail, I can pick up where I left off. If I am having a lousy day, I can do a reset. I never have to accept that I am down for the count, because I’m not. Even on my worst day in life I can sit down, take in a few deep breaths and recommit myself. When I open my eyes, I am starting anew. I don’t have to wait for tomorrow to start again, nor the start of the new week, month or even year. Right now! I can recommit myself to my priorities at this moment.

I hear people say that we have to start over again from scratch. We made errors in how we predicted things might turn out. We allowed ourselves to become entrenched in our ego. We let the tribe mentality influence our actions. Do we really start from scratch? No. We carry what we learn with us through to the next lesson in life. This time, because of what we have learned, we can make the changes, or avoid the pitfalls.

There was a popular game when I was in university (yes, long before video games) where you had to move a marble through a maze on platform full of holes by tilting the platform one way or the other to roll the marble along. With each attempt, you learned the moves to make to avoid the holes and make it to the end of the maze. The lesson from the times before taught you which way to tilt the platform to achieve your goal. You were starting over, but never from ‘scratch’.

But how do I keep going if I seem to keep falling into the same ‘hole’ in life? By renewing my commitment. I commit to my recovery on a daily basis. I don’t necessarily know what is around the corner of the labyrinth of life but I know that if I commit daily to my recovery I can learn to avoid the pits that threaten to swallow me up. If I do fall through the pit, I now have experience on what not to do. Once I have learned to avoid one hole, the next time I have to go past it will be that much easier. So while I may be back at the start, I am not strictly speaking, a beginner. I can apply the lessons I have learned.

All I have is this moment right now. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, only now. I commit to this moment. I place my focus on this moment and live it fully. Not by a long shot am I always successful at this. I continue to fall, to crawl along the ground for a bit and gradually find the courage to stand again and keep on walking on my journey.

Stick with your priorities. Commit to your journey daily. Start again whenever you need to knowing that your destination will always wait for you to arrive.

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A World of Miracles

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.
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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

 

Limiting Distractions

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.

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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.

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