Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To Life

The house was empty yesterday afternoon and I wanted to use the time to read. It was cloudy and at the freezing mark outside, so I started a big campfire in the backyard, sat a chair beside it, alternating between reading and watching the flames. I read Herman Hesse's "Siddhartha", a Christmas gift from one of my children. As I watched the flames I thought about what I had wrote yesterday and about what I was reading. Siddhartha discovers that no matter what we do we end up facing life. It gave me pause, for so much of my life's activity is about shielding me from the painfulness that accompanies life. Even if I build what I consider the perfect wall, life will find a way to sneak in. There is no way to escape.

When I reread my resentment list from yesterday, do a forth step on each item, I see the fear in each. Seems like I am afraid of life, of being alive. If I look a little deeper, I see other fears, a fear of getting old, a fear that there is not enough time left to get everything accomplished that my partner and I would like to do. A second one is that there won't be enough finances available to accomplish our dreams. As well, somewhere in that list is a wish that I had sobered up younger in life.

Siddhartha's final teacher was the river. Life is like a river, ever flowing, every changing, always the same. Life teaches me, through pain, pain I impose on myself, lessons on living. On how to live. These lessons take a lifetime to learn. I have spent most of my life trying to escape those lessons. Another great fear I have is that I won't figure this out, that I will scrabble through life blindly. My fears ask me to give up. Life asks that I just accept what comes down the river.

Today I choose to be sober and clean. To face, to accept, what flows into my life, into the lives of those I care for. I will be afraid for that's the way I am. I will try to accept that.

In the January 1962 edition of the Grapevine, Bill W. wrote, "When fear persisted, we knew it for what it was, and we became able to handle it. We began to see each adversity as a God-given opportunity to develop the kind of courage which is born of humility, rather than of bravado."

Thank you to each one who commented yesterday. Some of those words stung, but they gave perspective as well. I have so much gratitude that I do not face life alone. That those who have gone down this path before me are willing to share of their own hope and experience. That we travel together. You are much appriciated, each one.

Photo Credit: Nicholas T.


Annette said...

Thank you for working through all of this here, where we can all read and learn from your experiences. Priceless stuff here!

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

I like yr description of how life ? beats you into submission. yes. i find life is the great teacher. always tells me very clearly where I am full of crap. :)

If its any consolation i find that the people persecuted by the most self doubt and uncertainty, are the ? students that are most open to being taught by life. ie it is only the earnest seekers that are put through their paces in this manner.
The levels of self doubt you are experiencing do not last. When i started meditating, i think i had ? two years or so of very paralyzing levels of uncertainty. I have become more comfortable with it. I 'got over it' so to speak. but no-matter how much you learn there is always !!!! another seemingly impossible obstacle to get through :) Its a rite of passage, or something. Just gotta keep the faith, and TRY to do the right thing nomatter what your head tells you.

Its worth it in the long run. you'll see.
I see your chapter of uncertainty as the hallmark of a very promising recovery, if you continue as you are. Just accept the process. stop making a problem out of your defect-ridden reactions to things. it just makes u human. yes, the main thing is not to ACT OUT, or heedlessly follow impulses, but u r not responsible for what comes into your head so theres no point in giving yourself a hard time about that. Its how u DEAL with the thoughts that come into your head that counts. Just accept the irrationality of your thoughts and emotions and resist the urge to make a problem out of them. Serenity comes from accepting life in whichever form it presents itself, and having the moral restraint to not follow destructive impulses heedlessly, not from having a lily-white psyche :)

So yes, life is the great teacher. not books, or people. although having fellowship with like minded is a great support for those on this path. But the nature of the learning curve is not flattering. It is ego puncturing and uncertain EVERY DAY. The trick is getting used to this every day. Not easy. But it does happen. you do get used to it.

Learn to embrace your contradictions. They are part of your humanity. Part of the furniture :)
U2 - God Part II (Live HQ)
This song is about the NORMAL contradictions in every human being.

Shadow work will help you accept your ‘wrong’ stuff without following it heedlessly.
Iron Man. Robert Bly.
Meeting the Shadow by Connie Zweig is good..

Lou said...

You are projecting a lot into the future with your fears..and then into the past, asking yourself what has taken you so long.

My life today is "flowing like the river" because I'm conscious of my many self defeating behaviors. Not all the time of course, but I do much better. I also regret that I wasted many years, not alcoholic, but just not living life with gratitude and joy.

I think the work you do on yourself pays off in many ways, some which you will notice right away, others are much more subtle.

Syd said...

I believe that God will help me to figure things out if I have faith and am willing to listen and learn. There are many lessons to learn in life. And it's never too late to begin the changes that will make life better. Your posts are excellent.