“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
HAMLET – William Shakespeare
My grandmother was a wise yet simple farm woman. She knew how to gather any vegetable from the garden or berry from the woods and cook it into a delicious casserole or jam. The storage shelves in the cellar were filled each year with mason jars of wonderfully colorful canned vegetables and preserves. And in her spare time she crafted from scraps of dresses and coats gorgeous quilts or blankets.
I learned from her that a man “is what he eats.” The foods which a person consumes will ultimately determine the health status of his/her body. Unfortunately, I strayed from Grandma’s wisdom regarding foods and nutrition as a young adult resulting in various difficulties with the Western culture health epidemics plaguing us today.
I also strayed from the spiritual/life lessons learned from my farming community as a young boy leading to addiction and behavioral patterns which controlled the years when I should have been maturing into a responsible adult. Living life soberly has been a prolonged process of ‘catching up’ to others who learned their lessons well and pursued G.O.D. – Good Orderly Direction – rather than waste precious years cavorting as a prodigal son in the far country. (see LUKE 15)
Those of us who share these experiences of addictive exile have a choice to make in our recovery years. The times were neither good nor bad – they simply were. What we did, the hell we created for others and ourselves cannot be reversed. The heartaches and pain inflicted on loved ones including ourselves must be accepted as part of the process leading to sobriety. Today I know with certainty that I was a royal A-hole back then. However, today I also know that I don’t have to sit in this chair ten years from now looking back and saying, “Damn, what an asshole I was back on September 18, 2019.”
They say that humility is all about acceptance – accepting and reconciling my past, who I was and what I did, but then recognizing who and what I am destined to be as a sober-minded man living a life that doesn’t really belong to me. It’s a journey with G.O.D.
So, now you ask, “Larry, what does this have to do with Shakespeare and Hamlet?”
Everything, absolutely everything in life is neutral, neither good nor bad. It is the thinking which you and I attach to ‘everything’ that makes it good or bad. We have the choice to create the life we want. My physical pain suffered today from poor habits of eating and addiction years ago is a good thing because I choose to marvel in the complexity of a body which uses pain to remind me that, yes, I am still alive. The morning leg and knee pain awaken me to a new day saying a prayer of gratitude,
“Thank you Lord for giving me breath and heartbeat. My leg hurts, my knee hurts, but they still function and, oh, just look at the glorious sunshine awakening me.”
Am I always successful deferring thinking about everything that crosses my radar screen? Of course not, I continue to be a member of the human race and therefore frequently offer an opinion, good or bad. But, another tool learned in my recovery journey is the Serenity Prayer,
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, courage to change the things I should, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
For me, the wisdom is in knowing when my opinion matters and when it does not. When should I apply thinking to the never-ending parade of drama in today’s life? As I process this choice I realize more often than not that my opinion truly does not matter.