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
How does one recover from addiction and alcoholism? This is the H.O.W. of recovery: Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness. These attitudes go a long way toward a life that is happy, joyous and free. Without any of them, my chances at recovery are slim.
Honesty is an attitude of no more secrets. Revealing who I am, at least to myself, my Higher Power and another person is a necessary part of my recovery. I need to be accepting and true to who I am. Honesty is standing tall without pretending or pretense. It is humility: this is ‘me’, this is who I really am. I need not tell everyone everything about who I am, but if I want to live with integrity, I can no longer hide behind a curtain of half truths and false impressions.
Open-mindedness is that which allow me to seek answers and to step away from my comfort zone. It is a realization that I don’t know everything and that what I do know may not be correct or in need of a change or two. When I am open-minded I am asking questions and seeking answers. I am convinced that seeking the answers to new questions in life today is far more important to my personal growth than hanging onto the answers that solved yesterday’s question.
Willingness is the desire to move forward, do the work and put forth some elbow grease. It’s often easy to rest on yesterday’s laurels and take my comfort. But if I am to grow I have to be willing to move, to change and to expend the energy necessary to make changes in my life. It’s doing the work even when I don’t see the results right away. It’s following the recipe of recovery even when I don’t understand it or why I am doing it at the time. It is trusting the process and moving on.
Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness are H.O.W. I got sober and they are the attitude that keeps me that way. If I am lacking any of these attitudes I am taking steps away from my recovery. They form the foundation of a recovery that will allow me to grow and change and evolve. Who I was yesterday is not who I am today. I cannot cling to the self I started with in the program if I want to change. Believing that I’ve ‘got it’ leads to stagnation and decline. I have to keep it fresh.
I think these attitudes are absolutely necessary for people in recovery and I am quite sure they are absolutely necessary for people who aren’t. Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness are attitudes that allow for a life that is constantly growing, changing and evolving into a newness every day.
I am grateful to my sponsor Bob who reminded me of this acronym last week. ¡Gracias amigo!
Step One invites us to admit two things: that we were powerless over alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc., and that our lives had become unmanageable. I had a hard time with the unmanageability part. You see, when I first got sober, a lot of the things that I wasn’t able to manage in my life suddenly became manageable. The first couple of weeks were a bit tough financially and I remember wondering where I would have gotten the money to feed my habit for the rest of the month had I not quit, but in truth, I know that I would have found the funds somehow.
After a few weeks, I discovered that I now had the money to pay all of my bills without juggling the monies around credit cards and accounts so no one was on my tail about paying up. I began to do necessary repairs and maintenance on the property and so tenants weren’t at my door complaining. My little ‘fiestas’ had stopped. I was keeping the house clean, doing laundry and even finding time to read again. Things were turning around so quickly that it was easy for me to see how my addiction had caused all of the unmanageability in my life.
But then something changed. I ran into a problem and I didn’t know how to deal with it. My first thought was to find something to take the edge off. That had been my ‘modus operandi’: using something to help me forget the problem and pretend that it wasn’t a problem after all. But hanging around the folks at meetings must have been helping because I knew that probably wasn’t a good option. I got on my motorcycle and drove. I headed out to the country and just drove and repeated over and over again the Serenity Prayer.
Gradually the emotion that had taken control of my mind began to subside. Slowly I calmed down. Like a mantra, the prayer helped rid me of distraction and to focus on what I needed to do: go to a meeting and talk to my sponsor.
I learned through this and other experiences that manageability is more than paying bills and doing what I should have been doing all along. It’s easy to have a manageable life when things are running along smoothly. They don’t always. Manageability has to do with living life on life’s terms and accepting what comes along and dealing with it as it arises. I had to learn new ways to manage my life. I need the program not to iron out my life but to help me face it. I needed, and still do need my recovery program to guide me when things don’t go according to my plan and problems arise.
I still get overwhelmed at times. Something seem to be insurmountable and I feel I can’t deal with it. Stepping back, walking the dogs, and still driving on my motorcycle help me to clear my head and put a plan in place. While I can still spiral down into unmanageability, I now have solutions to help me make the turn around and I have my program to thank for that.