Aim Low, Shoot High

RIAN_archive_399644_Young_tennis_players_practicing

When I had a few years clean and had already worked the steps a couple of times, Emmet Fox’s Sermon on the Mount had become all the rage around the rooms. As it turns out, that book was an integral influence on the original writing of the Big Book and after reading it I could see it’s stamp all over Bill’s words. But that’s an interesting side note. What’s in my head this morning is the profound effect Fox’s book had on me as an Atheist. (which is only to say it could probably have a profound effect on *anyone*!)
You see, studying Sermon on the Mount changed the way I saw recovery in AA in a most fundamental way. Fox talks about principles in terms of absolutes. That Honesty, Humility, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Brotherly Love are perfect ideals. At the time I was a very angry young man, though my two runs through the steps had provided me some relief from that particular bondage of self. Just enough relief that reading Fox’s ideas on practicing principles in all my affairs struck me as something I needed to pay attention to; it mattered not that when I threw a rock [principle] at the east foothills [ideal] that I didn’t hit the east foothills [ideal]. What mattered was that by trying as hard as I could in the moment – I made progress.
What I read in that book was that being human meant that I could never achieve perfection regarding these principles but that every bit of suffering in my life was directly connected to the degree by which I worship my exceptions to practicing them in each affair of my life. My serenity is inversely proportional to my “yeah but’s…”.
Mind blown.
On a very core level I thought to myself, “fuck.” because I knew it was absolutely true even as my mind came up with several favorite, well polished, lifelong trophies of justified rage that I loved (in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way) to hold up regularly as my righteous burden qualifying me to treat you badly.
Thus began my going on 25 year snipe hunt to eradicate my “yeah but’s” regarding practicing principles. Not because I’m a saint (as all of you who know me know for damn sure!) but because I’m practically Don Quixote when it comes to trapping my own hypocrisies and hoisting them up to be mocked! Sometimes they’re vanquished. Sometimes they’re accepted as being a quirky part of me that I may not be ready to let go of yet. A catch and release program of sorts. But acknowledging my “yeah but’s” means they no longer scurry around ruining my happiness without my permission. Which starts making them look and feel kind of silly.

“12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” never looked the same to me again after that.

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Pissed Off & Mad About It

I learned the words ‘HATRIOT’ and ‘FRIGHT WING POLITICS’ this morning. Normally I quit listening or reading the second someone uses a kitschy slur to describe someone but I have to confess a certain detestiness for an increasingly large segment of my demographic (middle aged white guy) that is simply pissed off at the world, blames everyone on the planet for his messed up life, hates (see: fears) anything that isnt just. Like. Him. and rails endlessly about ‘the other’. 
Here’s the thing; for all your tourettes laden ranting about Liberty and Freedom, socialist, Kenyan, fascist, gun taking, internationalist, lame stream media conspiracy theorism, you’ve forgotten one little thing. 
 
Your life is your fault.
 
You are the one single common denominator in every failed aspect of your unhappy little life. It would take a Herculean effort on the part of everyone who’s ever touched your life and not acted right to have pooled together the resources to actually conspire against you every single day of every single chapter in every single era of your life. 

You just aren’t that important. Neither am I. And that’s okay. 

I suggest a sea change. Perception is reality. Turn off FOX (or MSNBC) and go outside. I know you adore your dog. Just for today, try treating someone who doesnt look like you as kindly as you do Fido. Trust me, they wont be expecting it and the look of shock on their face may just be worth it. But it’ll make you feel better. Right away. There’s real power in that. And that, too is your fault.