Tuesday, January 26, 2010


When I was pruning my plum tree I glanced up at the sky and saw a half moon hanging in the sky. At that moment, it looked cold and slightly malicious. I felt this existential fear, coming from how small I felt at that moment, how insignificant I am when it comes to the scale of the cosmos. I changed my scale, imagining I was on the moon, looking back at all the activities on this planet, how we scurry around, possessed by our own self-importance, doing the same things over and over, spinning in circles, so ineffective at preventing war and poverty as we struggle for power and wealth. At that moment I felt small, pointless, the universe appearing indifferent.

A few moments later, I stopped to looked at what I was cutting off the tree, a small branch full of fattening buds. The buds, though small, were full of colour, a dark pink. Each bud was full of promise, a promise of life, of a juicy yellow plum, complete with a pit that could grow into a tree. The bud, only about 3mm across, contained so much potential. There were thousands and thousands of these buds on the tree. Such extravagance, such fecundity. I felt comfortable in the arms of that tree.

As I think about my feelings, I realized that I assign gender as well. The coldness of the universe is male, the fruitfulness of nature is female. It reflects my reality, cautious of all the is male, an apartness from all that is female. My father was cold, my grandfathers distant, the male God that used to be my understanding was a punishing God. The matriarchal side of the family was more accepting. I never did find my place as a youth.

Recovery allows me to push past these life long fears. I am finding out about who I am as I work the steps, as I work with others, as I learn to co-operate. I see how those fears can still block me, cause me to feel small and useless. Gets me back to that place of shame.

I was going to write about this yesterday but somehow that post on movies and tears came out. Hidden behind that post is a frustration. It is easier for me to have compassion, to let tears flow, while watching a movie than it is in real life. To come across a man who is struggling, who need help, does not create compassion, it creates fear in me. Sometimes I can push past the fear, sometimes I do not. However, I can rest in the fact that as I walk down this narrowing path, the fears will lessen and the want to help will increase.

Thanks to all of you who tell me tears are okay. (I was going to write crying but felt safer with tears). I am grateful that I can have tears, for in not so distance past, if they did appear, it was just as Irish wrote, tears of self-pity and not of compassion and care. If that's a measure of growth, then the buds are getting fatter.

Photo Credit: jpstanley


Susan Deborah said...

How well you have described the finite and the infinite. Words fail me.

Thanks for the powerful thoughts.

Joy always,

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

have you tried moonbathing? ie going out at night under the moonlight. catching some moon rays..
I find the moon terribly female. It is ? supposed to be very 'yin' ie female energy. but who knows.
but try the moonbtahing. provided you are not living next to a dangerous urban area (!) in case it is unsafe. but if you have a nice place nearby, perhaps by the sea or wherever, try it and see how it feels. its cool :)
its best under a full (or nearly full) moon. even better if there is not much cloud. notice how it makes you feel. Its very neat!

you are sounding very tuned-in these days :)
i think the 'helping-newcomers fairy dust' seems to have kicked in :) hehe
Nice isn't it? now you know why I find helping newcomers so addictive :)

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. I really liked your analogy of the tree. But, I remember crying and crying all the time, then getting sober and being sooooo afraid to cry, afraid that I was feeling sorry for myself, they were not the right tears, or worst case scenario, being hauled off to the looney bin because I just could not stop. I remember telling my sponsor the last one and she said, "so what, maybe you need to be in the looney bin for a few days or weeks or months! Quit trying to figure it all out!" LOL. The tears still come out sideways sometimes. I give myself permission to feel sorry for myself some days, but no longer than a half hour or so. Try not to forget that you are human as well as alcoholic.

Elizabeth Fry said...

Your post teared me up. It's so fascinating to me that people that have never met could experience life on such similar terms.


Syd said...

I appreciate and understand so much of what you write regarding fear here. I feel so much more compassion for people since being in recovery. I used to only relate with tears for animals but now know that we humans deserve no less compassion.