Letting Go

I’ve been in my recovery program for under seven years. I don’t pretend to think I know it all. Every time I think I’m gliding smoothly down the river, like I ‘got it’, my Higher Power sends me an insight showing me that it isn’t so at all. These past couple of weeks it’s all been about surrender. Once again I was reminded that the river is still long and I am far from the end.

I don’t adapt to change easily. I would really like stuff to stay the same way it always has been. It’s working, so why fix it? Things are moving along fairly balanced. Life is good. I live my life peacefully and work my program. I’d like it to stay that way.

In reality, I have a very short memory. It hasn’t always been working and smoothly flowing. Perhaps the last month or so, but, no. There have been plenty of challenges in the last year and it’s only recently that I have been able to sit down and think about what I’ve been through. Probably the biggest life change is finding myself single again. I’ve learned that I can and will get through anything and everything in this life. I have a Higher Power and it’s still there helping me through.

So I guess I can adapt and do so in such a fashion that I don’t recall the state of upheaval I was in six months ago. I can thank the program, my sponsor, friends and family. Writing this blog has been a new way to channel the energy and feelings I have dealt with. Opening my home to visitors and widening my circle of friends and acquaintances has changed my focus off of myself and onto the world at large. I was told early in my recovery that working with others would take my mind off of my small world and my challenges. Service will keep you sober! It has.

One of the solutions for me has been surrender. I had to let go of all of the old definitions of myself, just as I did in Steps Six and Seven. I had to be reminded this year that I am not my past, nor am I my defects of character. I can surrender them, let them go. As I recently read, it’s not necessary to analyse and investigate in order to understand the rocks that weigh me down. What’s important is that I drop the bag of rocks so that I can move on.

Probably the most significant aspect of all of this, of living and working the steps of recovery is not putting conditions on the outcome of who I am becoming. If I have really put my life and my will into the care of my Higher Power, then how can I dictate to my Higher Power what the new Tim will be like at the end of the process. I must let go of any preconceived idea or condition and learn to trust. I trust the process of the twelve steps and I trust my Higher Power.

I am grateful.

The End of the World! …not really

When we speak of humility, that elusive quality of character, we often speak of accepting ourselves as we are.  We speak of downplaying ego and of selflessness.  Humility also has something to do with how we react to what is happening around us. It isn’t just a quality on how we see ourselves, but also how we respond to our world.  It is keeping things in proportion.

Humility is keeping things in proper perspective.  It’s not exaggerating about what is happening in our lives, not bragging about how great we are, nor is it commiserating about how bad things are.  How we love to exaggerate. To quote Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” For most of us, before we got into our twelve step program, there were high highs and low lows.  Seldom did we find ourselves balanced anywhere near the center. And we loved to tell everyone just how good it is, how much money we made, where we lived, who we were married to.  Or, we droned on about how life had done us wrong, how bad things were going at work, how that SOB was going to get what’s coming to him. It was either the best or the worst but rarely a happy medium.  How do we get to that balance?  We give ourselves over to humility.

Humility is that quality that reminds us that we can deal with anything; those things we like and those which challenge us.  It reminds us that we are not alone in life, that we have a Higher Power guiding us and friends around us we can count upon. We learn that we can make it through everything. We can ask ourselves: was it really a bad day, or was it 15 minutes that I milked for the rest of the day?

I remember when I first started teaching.  Managing a full classroom of ten year olds, trying to prepare and present lessons, keeping the principle and parents happy were way beyond my limited experience at the job.  If one thing happened that I wasn’t expecting, say a half an hour before the final bell, suddenly the whole day was a fiasco.  It was the worst day ever. It would be better if I quit now and worked at KFC.  Well, that was my scenario, more or less.  But no, it wasn’t the worst day ever, it was a small thing that I let colour my perspective on the whole day.  I can see now I was operating with plenty of egocentric pride and hardly a speck of humility. Ego and humility cannot exist together. When I claim I’m a humble person, I’ve just let my ego take over.

How grateful I am to learn that I can make it through everything.  I am quite fond of saying that it’s not the end of the world until it’s the end of the world!  I have a Higher Power and I will always get through whatever comes my way, until I don’t make it. And then it won’t matter. Meanwhile I choose to live while I am alive and not wallow in hiding for fear that things might not go the way I want them to go. Besides, in spite of my desire to have it so, it isn’t all about me.  I’m not the only one involved here in this game of life. The world happens.  The world happened before I arrived and will probably keep on long after I’m gone. Humility reminds me that I’m not that important in the big picture.

Someday, I hope to become the guy my dogs think I am. Until that time, I keep working away at changing for the better: remembering that I am just another of the creatures on this earth doing the best I can with what I am given each day.


The Vulture’s Tale

Things happen.  Sometimes we say it’s for a reason, sometimes we say it is serendipity, sometimes we say it’s a message from on high.  I have my own thoughts about this.  Regardless of what you or I might think about this, it happened.

I was sitting at a meeting, somewhat distracted and I happened to look outside.  The building is a “rancho”, a roofed structure supported by poles and basically open on the sides. There’s an incredible view of the jungle from here and, although hidden by the trees, the ocean is less than a kilometer away.  There are always birds, butterflies and monkeys in the area and often iguanas racing across the roof of the building, scratching the tin as they go.  Dogs and roosters often wander by and into the building.

As I said, I was distracted, not paying attention to whatever was going on in the meeting when I saw a vulture land upon the dead branch of a tree less than 50 meters away.  Not an uncommon sight here.  Vultures are always gliding around, soaring on the winds sniffing out their next meal, and sometimes stopping and resting, often in the same tree.

This time, something different happened to the vulture.  A few seconds after he lit upon it, the branch broke!  As I said it was a dead branch.  Its bark had fallen away and the termites or ants must have weakened it to the point of barely supporting its own weight.  The remaining structure couldn’t support the creature’s added weight.

Branch and vulture began their fall.  Then with a flurry of black feathers and flap of wings, the vulture took flight and let go of the branch.  It fell to the jungle floor and the vulture flew off to soar again and find another place to rest and await its next meal.

There really is nothing overly significant to what I witnessed.  A bird landed on a branch, it broke, the bird let go and flew off.  Probably not the first time it happened either. What struck me as significant is that the bird let go.  I was reminded of the many times I held onto thoughts, ideas, principles and opinions long after they were viable, believable or tenable.  I hung onto the branch and let it pull me down.  Had I let go of it, I too could have flown off to find other branches to rest upon.  How often do I hang onto friendships, jobs, beliefs or habits that are holding me back, pulling me down and preventing me from reaching my potential?  Why do I cling to a relationship that is decaying and that is weighing me and pulling me down?  Yes, perhaps at one time, these thoughts, ideas, dogmas had vibrancy and life, but no longer.  I must learn to recognize that it is over.  I may have sat on that same branch many times and it held my weight.  But no longer, that branch is going down and will take me with it if I don’t let go.  Let go. Surrender. Trust.  All these are part of my process of change in recovery.

I’m no different than most, I don’t really like to change.  I’d prefer to hang onto what I know and what I think works.  But the truth here is that things come to an end I must let go lest I lose myself in the process.  Vultures are regarded in many cultures as sacred emissaries to the gods: gold and jade amulets are often found with their images. My Higher Power speaks to me in many manners, and it usually isn’t a burning bush or being struck down off my ass by a bolt of lightning.  What I need to learn is set before me to take in, or not.  This may have been nothing more than some footage for Animal Planet for some, or perhaps a hint to go on a diet.  For me, it was a lesson taught by the humble vulture and it has made a significant impact on my thoughts.


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