another 72 hours

unshackled-2So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

Well, how was your weekend?  Did you get all those chores accomplished?  Maybe an afternoon family BBQ by the pool?  Did you maintain sober-living for the past 72 hours?  Not just alcohol free, but truly sobriety-appreciating behavior?

If today finds you sober and serene, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.  If not, tomorrow is another day to start your adventure through sobriety.sober emoji

Leonard Cohen

unshackled-2So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

“For the millions in a prison
That wealth has set apart—
For the Christ who has not risen,
From the caverns of the heart

For the innermost decision
That we cannot but obey
For what’s left of our religion,
I lift my voice and pray;
May the lights in the land of Plenty
Shine on the truth someday.”

—Leonard Cohen

“pig in the python”

 

 

“sharp statistical increase represented as a bulge in an otherwise level pattern.”

young, mature, old

Picture a python that has just eaten a pig.  We are the bulge in that python’s belly.  We are the baby boomers.  Born between 1946 and 1964, we were part of the phenomenal birth rate increase following the end of WWII.  Life in the USA was good.  It was a time of jobs, prosperity, security, enforced peace, a resumption of  families supported by dads returning from the sacrifices of war time.

We grew up with the images of “Ozzie & Harriet”, “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father Knows Best” teaching us how life should be.  Beginning in 1959 we watched 14 seasons of the Cartwrights on “Bonanza” showing us how ‘real men’ lived.  Back then the “Nightly News” was a reporting of factual events rather than an attempt to entertain or politicize.

Our parents intended for us to have it all, a better life than they had.  Job security was the norm enabling dad to spend his entire career with one employer.  Mom stayed at home keeping house, prepared great home-cooked meals for her loved ones, chaired the local PTA, drank socially with her Wednesday afternoon card club.  Junior and Sis went to segregated schools, attended sock hops on Saturday night, dreamed of being the prom King and Queen, prepared for college and an independent life with families of their own.

Remember those days?  Me neither.  Here’s how it really was.  Bobby’s dad was escaping to the city on ‘business trips’ to meet the young, hot secretary from the office for a few hours of sex.  Betty’s mom was sneaking martinis every afternoon before the kids came home from school.  Junior was getting high with his friends and Sis was given to bobbing in the back seat of her boy friend’s car.

And we became emancipated.  Woodstock, the Beatles, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war protesters, the political corruption all met within the 1960s to create a generation of young people unwilling to accept the status quo.  We were called radical and degenerate for rejecting ‘Ozzie & Harriet’ and the ‘Cartwrights’, following, instead, a desperate departure from our parents’ dreams.  Much of that idealism was relinquished with the passing years, and most of us settled into responsible adult relationships and behaviors just like mom and dad.  But, a few of us became ‘forever dropouts’.

My name is Larry and I am a baby boomer.  Today marks my 73rd birthday.  Still haven’t figured out if I’m still a dropout or just an anti-social senior citizen.

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come and rest

disconnect

Welcome to my little get-away.  Do you like it?  Before we settle in let’s toss some of the excess baggage.  There’s no room for those resentments about the past nor worries about tomorrow.  Get rid of that backpack of responsibilities weighing you down.  Settle in under my palm tree and let’s look just beyond the horizon.  It’s calling us, isn’t it?  Rest for the soul. 

Our society (read between the lines here – the greed of Western culture) is insane with its preoccupation with material goods and financial success.  In the years leading up to 2008 and the economic meltdown, I was part of that insanity – accumulation of unmanageable debt, an absence of a savings plan, and basing self-worth on net-worth.  Then, the year 2009 brought a major adjustment to my life’s vision.  Bankruptcy including the loss of my business, my income, and my home at the age of 62 involuntarily initiated a different style of living.  It was called simplicity, something I had always admired, but never truly embraced.  It was fine for other people, however, I saw it as poverty.

I learned to love simplicity after the necessary adjustments were made to spending habits and lifestyle.  I gained a freedom never before experienced, an opportunity to escape the treadmill called the American dream.  It affords hours daily to simply be, to commune with one’s nature, one’s Maker and the beauty of the earth given to us as a dwelling place.  Resting in awe of the incredible life process we experience is a daily ‘activity’.  Would you like to come and rest with me?  Sit under my palm tree and gaze at the horizon?

Jesus, who escaped to the serenity of a garden frequently, said it this way to his disciples: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” MARK 6:30  Productivity and success are radically redefined when pursuing this lifestyle advised by the ancient mystics.

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

 

peace like a river

disconnect

Welcome to my little get-away.  Do you like it?  Before we settle in let’s toss some of the excess baggage.  There’s no room for those resentments about the past nor worries about tomorrow.  Get rid of that backpack of responsibilities weighing you down.  Settle in under my palm tree and let’s look just beyond the horizon.  It’s calling us, isn’t it?  Rest for the soul. 

What we see beyond the horizon is merely a reflection of that which we know is indwelling.  Steadfast and unchanging, it is the arm into which we lean in feast and famine, in light and darkness, in joy and sorrow, in peace and conflict.  Comforter, counselor, redeemer, shepherd – faithfully waiting for us to quietly enter Presence.  Don’t wallow in yesterday, don’t worry about tomorrow for today in this moment we are reassured that sitting under our palm tree, gazing into the horizon is soul work of the utmost importance.

When peace like a river attendeth my soul,
when sorrow like sea billows roll,
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
‘it is well, it is well with my soul.'”
Horatio Spafford

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  unshackled 3

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

 

stuff

disconnect

Welcome to my little get-away.  Do you like it?  Before we settle in let’s toss some of the excess baggage.  There’s no room for those resentments about the past nor worries about tomorrow.  Get rid of that backpack of responsibilities weighing you down.  Settle in under my palm tree and let’s look just beyond the horizon.  It’s calling us, isn’t it?  Rest for the soul. 

You have probably noticed that there is not a house under my palm tree, not even a hut or tent.  Running water would be nice, but what use is a bathroom without a house?  There is no shed for excess belongings, no lawn mower, no shovels, no wheelbarrow.  No need for a storage unit across town in which to store all the stuff that won’t fit into the attic or cellar or garage.  Pretty sparse by American standards – actually downright spartan.

Stuff – it’s the American way.  More, more, more to satisfy an insatiable thirst for possessions that will prove to our friends and neighbors how successful we are and to ourselves that we are special.  Then, when we tire of our stuff, we throw it into the dumpster and immediately run to Wally World to buy more stuff.  Stuff, stuff, stuff.

As we ponder the horizon from under our palm tree, let’s consider what our greed and Madison Avenue’s advertising genius have done to us as a society.  The USA consumes an enormously disproportionate share of the earth’s resources to produce all the conveniences and goods we are accustomed to having.  One would think, therefore, that we are the most content, well-balanced, satisfied nation on the surface of the planet enjoying the most advanced living standard.  Really?

What went wrong?  We bought into capitalism’s promises of fulfillment and happiness hook, line, and sinker.  We were snookered by the rich cats living in opulence surrounded by all their stuff which, by the way, is much better than our stuff.  Oh no.  Not only did they lead us astray, they got away with the really good stuff and left us with the junk!

Head spinning yet?  Come back, back to our horizon, back to our palm tree, back to what is important – living in the now.  Surrender to the wisdom of the ancient mystics who told us that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enjoy a place of peace (heaven) while saddled with his stuff.

pride8

unshackled-2

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

time to unplug

 

A steady diet of shameful news, government corruption, political shenanigans sometimes needs to be met living a few days unplugged.  No FB, no news feeds, no front page stories cropped-35.pngin the newspaper, no diversions from self-imposed exile on my front porch…or maybe  a visit to my brothers on Constagos, my Mediterranean get-away island.  Love you all.

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

mysteries

 
lao tzu

“Ok, so I was thinking.  Back in the 600-500 B.C. era in China, good ole Lao probably didn’t have as much about which to be depressed or anxious as we do today in 2020.  The environment was just fine, the economy was thriving, the government was stable, the family was well fed, and he spent his days writing clever things while sitting in gardens filled with butterflies and hummingbirds.

Yeah, I know.  Lao Tzu was probably just a figment of China’s imagination, but the writings attributed to him in the Tao Te Ching have inspired humans for centuries.  It’s like Jesus of the New Testament.  We can’t really prove the historicity of his existence, but, haven’t the verses assigned to him enriched our worlds?

The mysteries that beguile us are probably best left to be just that – mysteries.  If we would spend less time trying to conquer and understand the complexities of the universe and more time simply enjoying moments of inspiration and joy, maybe then depression and anxiety would leave us.

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

undying love

Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus shows what it means to have one person hold fast to us in our hour of need, despite the apparent hopelessness of it all. cac.org – RICHARD ROHR

This magnificent woman of the Jesus story has been horribly maligned over the centuries since the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries.  The male dominated Church chose to depict her as a sinner suffering seven demons within, healed by Jesus, then becoming a follower of the Jesus and the Way.

In 591 Pope Gregory I delivered a series of Easter messages blending Mary Magdalene with the “sinful woman” of Bethel who anoints the feet of Jesus with precious oil and then wipes his feet with her long hair.  This led to the theory that Mary, the apostle, was a repentant prostitute.

Even more interesting is the theory that Mary was in reality the wife of Jesus as popularized in the book and movie the Da Vinci Code and that they possibly had a child.  And why not?  Considering how the Roman Church had bastardized the teachings of Jesus, why can’t we believe that a healthy, devout Jewish man in his early 30s would  have a wife and family.

I’ll answer my own question – that would negate the basic foundation of the priesthood of the Roman Church – chastity and celibacy.  It would also question the Church’s premise that men were superior to women in spiritual affairs thereby justifying that women should be relegated to submissive roles in family life.

I have digressed from the intent of this writing:  one’s undying love for another.  Have you ever loved another person so deeply and unconditionally that even in the greatest times of despair you refused to give in to hopelessness?  In a family unit trying to  navigate the despair and hopelessness of an alcoholic loved one, we hang on to faith and hope, don’t we?  We pray, we plead, we beg, we threaten, we cry, we yell…and then we pray some more.  Why?  Because we still have hope in the face of hopelessness.  That’s what our Higher Power gives us.  The examples of undying love which we see around the tables of AA, the power of another’s comforting words, the personalities we read about in Scriptures all give us reason to go on for yet another day.  We cannot allow despair and hopelessness into our lives.

Mary Magdalene was that kind of person.  She loved her Jesus, stood by his side, wept at his cross, went with him to the tomb, guarded the tomb, and then arrived first at the tomb on the 3rd day to see it empty.  Not quite understanding, even though Jesus had told them in numerous conversations that he would indeed resurrect, Mary thought the body had been taken away.  Perhaps, briefly, at this moment she gave in to despair and hopelessness thinking the recipient of her undying love was forever lost:

“They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him,” was her reply to the angels standing nearby who asked why she was crying.

The resurrection message from John 20:10-18 continues to tell us that her Lord was there all the time even when she did not recognize the presence.  Mary Magdalene stood by her Jesus through the good times and the bad, through the trials of being a rebel, being an outcast from the Jewish hierarchy, being an insurrectionist in the eyes of the Romans, through the humiliation of his crucifixion, and finally through her perceived loss.

My loved ones were my Mary Magdalene through the difficulties, the heartbreaks, the disappointments, the betrayals, the lies, the drunkenness.  Theirs was an undying love.  Today, in sobriety, I hope to be the same to the ‘still suffering alcoholic’ who shares my life.

for my best friend, with lovecropped-cropped-picture40.png

 

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

indifference

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

Speaking to a friend today, she shared her recent experience when her son and grandchildren came to visit.  Their conversation turned to the Holocaust.  Her 15 year-old grandson drew a blank stare of unknowing.  Looking to her son, my friend asked,  “He does know about the Holocaust, doesn’t he?”

“No,” replied the son, “they don’t teach it in school.”

They don’t teach it in school!  Over 6 million people were systematically murdered in one of humanity’s most wretched schemes of genocide less than a century ago….and they don’t teach it in schools.  Survivors have related their tales of horror at the hands of Nazi Germany, SCHINDLER’S LIST was an epic fact-based movie portraying the horror at the hands of Nazi Germany,  Elie Wiesel, several years after his release from Buchenwald, wrote in detail the horror at the hands of Nazi Germany…and they don’t teach it in schools.

Today I think about what I would do if the same thing happened in America.  Would I have the courage to stand up and defend a persecuted, demonized, scapegoated man with an odd last name, a Muslim woman wearing a niqab, a black man in dread locks, or a Hasidic Jew?  Of course, I would.

Oh, by the way, what if my country has embraced white nationalism and has become a bustling hub of neo-Nazism?  What’s the answer now?  “Well, that certainly will not happen,” I reassure myself.

Really?  Do we think that in Germany, in the early 1930s, the gentle, God-fearing, Lutheran citizens anticipated Hitler and a Nazi Germany with goose-stepping soldiers wearing swastikas on their arms would parade the streets, that Jews would be rounded up and put into death camps only a decade later?  Can we afford to be that naive?

And the question again is whether I would risk my life and liberty to defend someone less white than me, less privileged than me, someone who is Jewish, Muslim, or any of the others on the target list of white nationalists and white supremacists?   Or will I stand by the railroads and watch cattle cars loaded with humans pass by on the way to the ‘final solution’ and turn the other way?

  1. We must remember and teach to our children the sad episodes of human depravity including American slavery, the relocation of Native Americans, the unwillingness to aid the Jews in WWII, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and the horrors of the Holocaust.
  2.  We must confront the cowardice of white supremacy and the neo-Nazi movement in America.
  3.  We must remember the words of Elie Wiesel:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

The late Congressman John Lewis reflected in his remarks upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama:

“never get lost in a sea of despair…have this abiding faith that there are things that are so right, so good, so necessary that you are willing to die for…”

What mountain am I willing to defend?  What things so good, so right and so necessary am I willing to die for?

alone calm faith light
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