Hemingway

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“I wish I had a stone for the knife,” the old man said after he had checked the lashing on the oar butt.  “I should have brought a stone.”  You should have many things, he thought.  But you did not bring them, old man.  Now is no time to think of what you do not have.  Think of what you can do with what you do have.

Ernest Hemingway THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA

Hemingway’s story of the old Cuban fisherman, Santiago, pits an old man’s grit and determination against the wiles of an 18 foot marlin which he has hooked. It details the battle each wages to survive.  The trophy fish is finally defeated and slain by the weathered old fisherman, but the pride of victory is short-lived as sharks, drawn by the marlin’s blood, soon attack the carcass strapped to the side of Santiago’s skiff.  By the time fisherman and boat reach home shores, the skeleton and head are all that remain of his capture.  Not only has he lost his prize, he also seems to regret that a creature of grace and beauty which he greatly admired has been destroyed.  Santiago ultimately validates his action as a “kill or be killed” battle with the great fish.  But, in reality he simply could have cut the line thus releasing the catch.  But, in his world, that sign of weakness, that compromise allowing man and fish to live for another day, is not an option.

I sometimes believe that I live in Santiago’s world.  My identity, my worth is too often dependent on being the victor incapable of compromise.   Just as the wizened old man in his skiff on the deep waters, in the desperate moments of life I often wish for that which I don’t have forgetting to appreciate and utilize that which I do have.

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America’s addiction

GABBY'S PLACE

Following Friday’s murders at Santa Fe High School in Texas, a sane, rational person would have reason to believe the hot topic in Washington, DC, would be a sane, rational conversation concerning gun legislation.  Are we seeing that?

Trump is tweeting about spies infiltrating his campaign.  He is pointing a finger at President Obama.  He is criticizing the FBI for following information that members of the campaign were in contact with Russian oligarchs and government officials.  Those FBI agents, covert or not, were following protocol when there were indications that a foreign threat was associating and possibly influencing our elections.  That is what our FBI does.  Notice that I emphasize our FBI.  Folks, the FBI does not belong to Trump or any Congress member or any individual citizen.

The Texas Lt. Governor is publicly pushing for “armed teachers”  and reducing entranceways and exits at the schools.  Really?  Do any of…

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emotional hangovers

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”orange tree

Most of us had created in the previous life as drunkards our own private drama clubs naming ourselves as President, Vice-President and every other club officer necessary to carry on our business of drama.  Additionally, we were the most vocal subscribing member.  The meetings were exhausting with inner dialogs that covered every aspect of anger, resentment, disappointment, and insecurity simmering in vehement self-righteousness.  Only our hangovers from drinking were more devastating and debilitating.

Are you still a member of your club today?  Am I?  How often do we spend our sober days reeling with “brain fog” as a result of a dalliance in our drama club?  It’s easy to do, but fortunately we now have the tools to immediately withdraw from participation if so desired.  And that’s the key, although sometimes we prefer to wallow in whatever satisfaction is derived from being overly dramatic and engaged in club activity.

“When a drunk has a terrific hangover because he drank heavily yesterday, he can not live well today.  But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether we are drinking or not.  That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotion – anger, fear, jealousy, and the like.”  Bill Wilson, AS BILL SEES IT, pg 48

Using our crutches in these times of emotional discord is not a weakness.  With a physical impairment such as a broken leg, crutches are meant to provide stability as we walk.  That uncomfortable cast keeps the leg aligned properly as it heals.  It’s the same in recovery from alcoholism.  The prayers, verses and sayings are meant to give us emotional support as we ambulate through the difficult times healing from the brokenness of our lives.

Sometimes the crutch we dismiss most is the fellow alcoholic whose phone number we have but don’t want to call.  Maybe it’s our sponsor who feels honored to have you as a “pigeon”, but we don’t want to be a bother or we don’t want to admit that we are hurting and needy of help.  Whatever the reasons are, the end result is a day spent miserably, or worse, a relapse into drinking.

For us, those forays into unnecessary drama can be a matter of life or death.  It need not happen.  We must gird ourselves with the tools of our program, surround ourselves with sober people, and meditate within our private space.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”  STEP 11, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

“Oh, I can’t do that,” we said, “I don’t know how to meditate.”

Being the alcoholic that I am, I researched meditation and determined I would do meditation perfectly.  My first attempt at sitting on the floor cross-legged in lotus position promptly reminded me that my body did not understand the reason for such discomfort, much less did my brain associate this pain with a practice to discover inner awareness.

Just as I found my path to meditative discovery,  others have also.  I have learned that there are no rules or proper positions.  It is the ongoing practice of feeling connected to a Universal source, learning who we are in that realm, and finding peace within the Higher Power of our understanding that we are seeking in meditation.  When we are able to allow and then dismiss passing thoughts, positive or negative, and return to contemplation and inner searching,  we are accomplishing a serenity that was impossible during our drama club days.

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SOBER TODAY – one, two, three

“Admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

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When I first inserted this graphic, I said to myself, “I can’t use it because it is too blurred.”

Really?  Doesn’t that describe who and what we were in our addictions?  A big blur.  And the word POWERLESS is clear and distinct.  Yes, sometimes the words and pictures unplanned in what we write say more than 1000 words could say.

For some of us the transition from “me in charge” to God in charge was immediate, but for many it was a slow process which had to be renewed every morning, every hour of the day.  One, two, three every day for an extended period of time finally got us to the point where “admitting, believing, and turning it over” were as instinctive as breathing or pumping blood.  How often did we think, “My life wasn’t really that unmanageable?” or, “Maybe I could just drink socially like my buddies do? ” or, “I’ll decide what I turn over to my Higher Power?”

Cunning, baffling, and powerful!  Such is the nature of our disease which will not be satisfied until we are insane or dead.  Our fellowship friends who decided to test the waters of drinking again sometimes returned to reassure us that nothing had changed “out there”.  They were the fortunate ones.  Many never returned.

A recovery is a Godsend.  It is God’s grace giving us a chance to live sober lives.  We should never, ever, assume that we will have more than one opportunity to be victorious over alcohol.  It is not guaranteed.  Not because God is unwilling, but because we are fallible, broken men and women who are powerless over alcohol.

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