Over and over…

July 5, 2013

Boxing glove and inflatable clown

Over and Over…

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

I’ve heard insanity defined as repeating the same actions yet expecting different results. Like playing Whack-a-Mole,” or pounding an inflatable clown, I can pummel away all I want — yet some problems keep popping back up.

On many a Monday morning I’ve thought “Today, I’m going to dedicate 20 minutes to prayer and meditation, no matter what! And on many a Monday night I realize I didn’t get around to it. I say the same thing on Tuesday, then Wednesday, and finally on Sunday I realize: nothing changed. My solution? Get up on Monday and start the whole thing again — only harder.

Given enough replays of this scenario, there comes a time when I have to admit I may not have the power to change this. If not, perhaps the questions aren’t “What’s wrong with me?” or “What’s all my resistance about?”

If I look at the underlying proposition, it comes down to me trying to change me into a better me, according to me. Now, there’s a pattern. Albert Einstein wrote “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” So if left to my own devices, using my own best thinking, I don’t have the power to change something, the question could be rephrased as: “Where do I get some power?

Where do you shop for power when you’ve run out?

The Magic Touch

September 14, 2011

Reaching up to touch the hand of...

The Magic Touch

Greetings, fellow trudgers on the “Road of Happy Destiny”…

A not-quite-as-sublime follow-up to the excerpt from MichelAngelo’s The Creation of Adam in my previous post. I may add some color later, but I just wanted to get this up and on.

I do appreciate this drawing unfolding as it did, as they all do — completely unplanned (at least until the final stages), and yet another surprising reminder of a daily reality: I have to reach up and meet the hand halfway.

Happy trails!

Drop the Rock

November 14, 2010

Drop the Rock

Drop the Rock

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

A snap quiz for today…

Question: What’s the best way to walk with a large rock? *

Life is rarely described as easy, but at times, if some of us were judged solely by our behaviors, one could conclude that we prefer a hell that’s familiar to a heaven we’d have to get used to.

Today’s quiz reminds me to ask: What’s my rock made of? What am I getting out of carrying it? Would life be better without it? Do I need help putting it down (letting go)? How do I ask for help? When the help is offered—do I accept it?

“Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.” — The Beatles

Happy trails!

* PS: Answer: Drop the rock.

 

The End of My Rope

August 17, 2010

The End of My Rope

The End of My Rope

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

How are you in a pinch?

I’m pretty good in an overt crisis. Maybe not so good after a long bout of “little pinches.” Give me three, four, six setbacks in a row, and I start to feel like I’m going to lose it. Sometimes at that moment a stranger volunteers to help my recovery along by running a red light and almost killing me. It’s even better if they go on their merry way and never realize I was there. As I am about to reach the proverbial end of my rope, I open up my trusty toolbox of coping skills, and voila: the only tool left is a hammer. And as it’s been said “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Sometimes, though, when life gets on my last nerve and I’m about to bite the head off a chicken, I’m served up with a gentle reminder that there is a different path. The other day I heard a fellow traveler share:

“God is at the end of my rope.”

That hit me in the head, just like a hammer.

Other than being pounded into helplessness, what else could lead me to a different way of living? What else but pain could get me to search for things like humility, honesty, openness, willingness… service! Somehow I don’t think that accolades, wealth, success and adoration over whatever I felt like doing at any given moment would do the trick. Other than complete defeat and surrender, what could possibly force me to acknowledge the mess I’ve made, ask for help, and accept the help that’s offered? *

Powerlessness may not feel great all the time, but I it feels better than madness, chaos and destruction. Just for today, I can accept the help where I find it. I can stay humble and teachable. I can learn to experience joy in accepting life “on life’s terms.” After all, I don’t have to live it—I get to live it.

When I do that—what a ride.

Happy trails!

PS * “We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.”

— from Step One in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

The Muse

October 26, 2009

The Muse

The Muse

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

Do you ever get the urge to create—a work of art, a dance, an invention—a solution to a problem? Have you had trouble capturing an idea and giving it life? Been unable to start, or move forward—or finish? Perhaps it might shine one day, and suck the next? It’s an interesting process, isn’t it?

I’ve been sending out these “happy trudgers” writings (and, lately, drawings) for some time now. Sharing these has been helpful for me. I hope folks enjoy them. Creating these stories can be a challenge—even painful (“Think how we feel,” some might say). The “committee” of voices clang away in my head, ranging from self-centered pride when I hear “You should turn these into a book!” to nagging doubt and hopeless self-loathing, especially when someone emails and says “Take me off this list.” Inflated ego and low self-esteem, once again doing battle on the wet fields of one’s spongy little brain. I’d sell tickets, but who would come?

I’m learning to experience the changing nature of this process through the prism of personal change: in short, to “come to believe” that the creative process is a way of connecting to you, to myself, to the universe and the forces that surround and permeate everything. Note that I wrote process, not product—I’m not claiming my stories are the channeled word of God. Believing that could pose real problems. For instance, what if it turns out they’re the channeled word of Gary, a personal trainer from Lodi, New Jersey? What if I later learned that I’ve been manifesting “The Word of Gary”?

How embarrassing would that be?

Whatever the source, suffice to say that for me there is delicious mystery involved.

If you want to explore the terrain where creativity and spirituality flow together* (and let’s not restrict creativity to “the arts”) I want to recommend a funny, touching, inspirational and (for me) transformative talk by the writer Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love”) at the legendary TED (Technology, Education and Design) conference. Fifteen minutes that changed my day but good.

Have a cup of tea, sit back and relax, and as they say, “Wait for it…”

Happy trails!

J.

* PS If you’re interested, you might also want to check out http://www.artsanonymous.org, a twelve-step recovery group that focuses on the connection to creativity in every aspect of our lives.

Seventh Step Memo

July 18, 2009

Seventh Step Memo

Seventh Step Memo

Greetings, fellow trudgers “on the road to happy destiny.”

I was in a lively phone conversation yesterday, but in a state of exuberance and enthusiasm—excitement. I wasn’t present. A slip of the tongue, and the reaction was swift – a not-so-pleasant but helpful reminder that my sanity and serenity depends on my willingness to let go of more than just the negative stuff—compulsions, obsessions, neuroses, habitual bad behavior—I also have to give up some aspects of me I’m pretty attached to: like thinking fast, talking fast, approaching all of life with a lets-go, get-it-done attitude, instead of considering, listening—and just being.

In terms of twelve-step recovery, I used to think of Steps 4 and 9 as the tough ones, but the two short and rather innocent sounding Steps Six and Seven are, in my opinion, the ones where the rubber truly meets the road (or, as Bill Wilson wrote in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, these “separate the men from the boys”).

One reason might be that, as I’ve heard, “there’s no help available other than perfect help.” I’m not being instructed to hand over alcoholism, addiction, or codependency, or ask a Higher Power to remove personality traits I may find temporarily unpleasant. As the saying goes, “God doesn’t need your alcohol, drugs or insanity.”

I take these steps to mean that if I want what the people who have recovered seem to have, I’m left with no option but to surrender my entire self and engage in this process fully and to the best of my ability, surrendering the whole shebang.

Happy trails!

PS  The Sixth Step reads “6. Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.”

The Sixth Step Prayer reads: “Dear God, I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character, which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself, and guide me toward spiritual and mental health.”

The Seventh Step reads “7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

The (actual) Seventh Step prayer reads: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.”