Day 12 – Powerless to Save Ourselves

“I have to surrender, become passive in the presence of a power greater than I.” Fr. Robert Barron

I’m a fan of the 12 Step Program ideology. It is my belief that everyone in life is covering or needs to recover from something. Everyone needs to getmended. I won’t beat this rug til the fabric frays but a while ago I wrote about Step One, so scroll through and reacquaint yourself with that post.

I think passivity gets a bad rap. One of MW’s definitions states c-1 lacking energy or will. I think it takes a great deal of will and energy to surrender and/or not act. With all that is going on in the world, everyone feels that they HAVE to stand up for themselves or others and while that may be true, sometimes surrender is the greatest weapon. I cannot speak on what I would do in situations, my temperament tends to betray logic, reason and common sense but I recognize the Power of Passivity in that none were more passive than Jesus yet none is more powerful.

I surrender all

All to thee my blessed Savior

I, surrender all.

Life Anonymous: Candy Corned Cadbury Candy Canes do exist

Step 2 – Hope

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

What is it that causes us to believe and what exactly is belief anyway? Our friend Merriam Webster says belief is : a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true; a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable; a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Hmmm, seems to me that belief is kin to faith : a strong belief or trust in someone or something.

Came to believe… I think my first encounter with belief was Santa Claus. Don’t know how or why but I’m pretty sure he was my first test of belief, faith and anything related to my dependency (bringing gifts) on another, aside from my parents. I’m sure my first encounter was so foreign to me that I had no concept of belief, let alone belief in someone who I only saw once a year. No, it was not until I was a little older that I really began to BELIEVE in Santa Claus and all the joy and goodness he represented. Deep in my heart, I knew, if I were good, Santa would reward my goodness and bring me everything on my list – which he usually did. Santa Claus was my first, cognizant and recognizable action of belief. Even when I got older and had my belief shattered, I still believed anyway because there is something so pure about believing in something so good and pure. Look how many songs talk about belief. I believe I can fly – really? Don’t stop believing – why not? Believe – Cher; Do you believe in magic – not sure? Dozens of songs talking about belief.

that a Power greater than ourselves…Hmmm, now I’m pretty gosh darn terrific, I mean, I’m no Ali but I’m no glass jaw either, so just who/what could be greater than I. Well, if you’re like me, an answer just leads to another question, so sometimes I try to stop answering. Whether its Creationism, Big Bang, or Made in China, you have to admit, being human and living it a pretty mind blowing thing. Just how did all of this come to be? Yeah, there’s a so-called answer for everything but is it really an answer? When things get messy, we tend to say “Why me?” Who exactly are you asking this question of? If you are just talking out loud, why ask questions, why not make statements instead. Questions imply a desire to know more and if you ask questions of the unknown then it stands to reason that somewhere inside, you still believe in Santa Claus.

could restore us to sanity. Restore : to give back (some one/thing that was lost or taken) : to put or bring (something) back into existence : to return something to an earlier or original condition by repairing it. Furniture, cars, jewelry, bad dye jobs, we’ve all had things restored. You don’t need a great deal of belief with those things, you can see what needs to be restored. Sanity : the condition of having a healthy mental mind : the condition of being sane. We have all the science and technology at our fingertips, why risk something as precious as the health and well-being of my mind to the unknown? See, more questions.

Well, after some long debates with myself, I came up with this; if as a child, I had belief in something so pure and good, something greater than myself, that brought such happiness to my mind, why can’t I have that belief as an adult? In fact I do, still believe in Santa Claus, everyday. Everyday, I am sure of my being and all that I have and see. I trust myself and some things and people around me. Some of those people and things do in fact have great power over me (worldly speaking of course) and when I have been or am being robbed of my sanity, some of the things some of those people have can most assuredly restore my sanity (booze, pills, exercise, painting, whatever). In a word, I have hope. As a child I had the sincerest expectation and confidence that Santa would bring me my gifts. Every morning I have the sincerest expectation and confidence that I will be able to stand, walk, move about, car starts, bank card works, computer doesn’t crash, arrive accident free and anything else I can think up and I do with every second of every day under the guise of hope. I sincerely expect all those things because to not expect them would cause severe trauma to my mental state. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, God, even the Great Pumpkin; all have something in common. All require belief in the essence of something not truly representative of themselves. Our parents were/are Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, the Great Pumpkin and even God before we came to know and understood who God really is, so is believing in something greater than yourself really such a bad thing, especially if the only reason for believing is to maintain a healthy mind?

I’m not big on the Easter Bunny, the treats are too sweet but I love the premise and pretty colors. The Great Pumpkin is always late, poor Linus and I never could figure out the Tooth Fairy. I lost my wisdom teeth and didn’t get jack squat, as a result, my mind was left in an unhealthy mental state, but God and Santa Claus, I’ve never experienced so much mental happiness. Ask any kid about Santa Claus and you can see the restoration of sanity right before your eyes. Amazing isn’t it. So glad I’m born during the most wonderful time of the year, although some people do lose their minds and tend to over extend Santa, but that’s a topic for another day.

Jessie Jackson was right. Keep hope alive.

Life Anonymous: Country. Maple. Honey-Glazed. Spiral.

Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over our dependencies – that life had become unmanageable.

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” (Ghandi)
“I think, therefore I am.” (Descartes)

We’ve all heard that line in some form or fashion. The bible says “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” I’m guessing they all got it from Jesus but regardless, it is a really powerful statement when you think about it.

Let’s break Step 1 down, shall we.

-Dependencies
Now wait a minute, your dependencies ain’t like mine. Sorry to break it to you but everyone has dependencies. Anything that you need for support, rely on for aid and/or that you can/are influenced or conditioned by, is a dependency. If you have a job, you are dependent on that job to help provide for your family or self (dependents). The benefits from that job influence your decisions to make purchases. Your dependency on the job conditions you to perform at the expected level in an effort to ensure continued dependency. Dependency isn’t limited to alcohol and/or drugs. Being “set in your ways”, narrow-minded, or uncompromising are the result of ideals we’ve conditioned ourselves to. From the air we breathe, the food we eat, the cars we drive to the houses we live in and everything in them, we are dependent on something or someone else other than ourselves. Dependency is a cycle, whether or not it is vicious, depends on the dependee.

-Unmanageable
Defined as: not submitting to discipline; unruly; difficult to keep under control or within limits. In other words, a mess: A HotAssMess.

Put everything together and we have admitted that we were powerless over our dependencies (whatever we rely on for support, aid, and/or whatever we have become conditioned or influenced by) that our life had become unmanageable (undisciplined, unruly, out of control). Recognized and acknowledged that the HAM we are, be it sweet, spiraled, country or sliced, is the direct result of the thoughts that baked inside out hot little heads.

I’m no philosopher. I’m just a writer who likes to think. Have you or someone you know ever said “you think too much”? Thoughts are the precursors to action, so you can and should think much, long and hard. Everything that exists today does so because someone had a thought. I’m sure people probably told Steve Jobs… you think too much. Millions of Apple followers might disagree. Ever notice, especially with film and TV, how much credit producers get? EVERYbody wants to be a producer, why? Because the money isn’t in the idea, necessarily, but in the end result – the actual product: the hit song that goes multiplatinum, the TV show that scores the highest ratings. A thought without action is what? A thought with action is what?

If you (your life) have turned into a HAM, you did not do so overnight. Creating a HAM takes time. Our thinking (precursor) and subsequent doing (action) are the essential seasonings of life, too much or too little can make for a HAM not of your liking.

If we are what we eat, it most certainly stands to reason that we are what we think.

A regular application of Constant And Never-ending Improvement to our thoughts and actions may help reduce HAM flare-ups. Admitting and being powerless over our dependencies isn’t necessarily a bad or negative thing. It’s when our dependencies are the result of improper, immoral and/or unproductive thinking and the subsequent action that we take, result in us and possibly everything around us becoming a HAM that the power of those dependencies is magnified.

When we (our lives) become HAMs, we can often be heard lamenting, CANI get a break?

Thanks for the inspiration ahines3 🙂 Domo!!

Life Anonymous: 12 Steps from Starving Hungry to Beyond Full

Starving Hungry. I heard that crazy term while working at the post office. That is some serious emptiness I thought and something I would never want to experience. Just what level of hunger is required for one to be both starving and hungry, if that is even possible? Well, today I was Starving Hungry and became quite full, all without having ever put a single morsel of food in my mouth. By now you all should know my stance on judgment; I don’t have any because I won’t have to answer for your actions. But I learned today that if one isn’t careful, judgment can creep in by way of some everyday, superficial un-Godly attitudes and behaviors.

Beyond Full. Today is my grandmother’s birthday and I am full from all the humble pie she and God served up to me today, candle in it and all. I am humble. When it comes to my work, my creativity, things I have, things I’ve done, etc., I don’t brag. I share, sometimes, and often I’m reluctant to do that and when I do it’s only with a select few. I’m private, a born and raised Singleton where sharing was a foreign as well, foreign. I am Wilbur, hear me oink! This is who I am, or who I thought I was until it was revealed to me that being a perfectionist, resistant and impatient (just to name a few) are just as bad if not worse than being judgmental and they are most certainly not of a humble nature. I admit when I’m wrong (humble) but just leave it at that, no need for you to say or add anything to it (not humble). Time was given to me today to examine my body language, voice tone, responses, you name it and let me tell you, on more than one occasion was humble booted out by perfection, resistance and impatience, and I wasn’t even aware of it. Apologize, yeah, I do. When I feel I’m wrong. Sometimes. Apologize if I feel I’m right? Ummmm, no? Nope.

Have you ever read and contemplated the 12 Steps? You know, the 12 Steps associated with AA. I’m no alcoholic but being resistant, impatient and a perfectionist are some pretty addictive behaviors. I always knew those things about myself and thought I worked hard at removing them. Turns out, I wasn’t working as hard as I thought I was. I’m lazy. I’m human. I’m a lazy human because life and everything in it takes work and I don’t feel like working ALL the time. It takes a lot of effort to live let alone live a decent life and not decent by monetary standards either. Oh don’t get me wrong, I work and don’t mind putting forth effort but its human nature for me to want to do it when I want to do it or better yet, have someone else do it for me (can you say Brrrraaaattt!)

Martin Luther King said “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
Step 4 is Moral Inventory. The constant attitude of taking stock of all traits, good and bad and if and how they have transgressed us. Traits of dysfunction that served us well in childhood that cripple us in adulthood. Traits that need to updated, outsourced, reconfigured or just altogether scrapped and new ones shipped in. Businesses take inventory all the time, if they don’t it is unlikely they will be very successful for very long. We humans, rarely, if ever take inventory because it is too much work. To search through the confusion, contradictions and convictions – that have been fed to us from breast and bottle (milk or otherwise), served up on religious cones and community plates – to find that which is truly decent, AND to do it on a regular basis, takes a great deal of work. Some of us are less lazy than other but lazy is lazy. I guess that is why in AA you have a sponsor. Someone who has been where you’ve been and experienced what you’ve experienced. Someone who put in the work, took inventory and is in recovery. Someone who, by all accounts, has been Mended.

I have a sponsor. I have several actually but my main sponsor had every reason to be a perfectionist, to show resistance and impatience and yet he was and is the definition of humility. In AA they have The Big Book. It serves as a guide during your recovery. In life we have a big book. It is difficult to read, often misinterpreted and frequently misused and it serves as THE guide during our recovery. Everyone, regardless how small it is, everyone is recovering from something. Everyone needs to Get Mended.

Life and living take work. Continuous, effortful and courageous work. Working makes you hungry and Humble pie is quite filling. It is dry, without taste or of the worst taste imaginable depending on who’s serving it up and you definitely do not want seconds. Even now, I must fight the urge to scrutinize each line and word, sentence structure and spacing until it is perfect.

AA is about recovery. Life is about recovery from all that is thrown at us each day. I wonder…If I went to a meeting, stood up and said, “Hello, my name is EJ and I’m a lazy human” would they look at me like in disbelief? Would they be angry, thinking I was making a mockery of their program? Or would they simply say “Hi EJ”. If they’ve completed Step 4, I’d bank on the latter.

Step 9 is Making Amends. I made some amends today. Some may be accepted, some may not, but acceptance is not, cannot and should not be the goal. The goal was, is and should always be to put in the work – continuous, effortful, courageous work.

I’m full. Pie anyone?