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Step Three: Made a Decision to Turn our Will and Our Lives Over to the Care of God As We Understood Him

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This time, much like the first time that I worked my way through the steps, at Step Three, I feel as though I am standing with my toes dangling over the edge of a vast cliff and attempting to will myself to leap. Before me, a self and a way of living that is uncertain and unknown, behind me is my past self, all that I have believed and known and been and all that I must let leave behind.  What is before me is less uncertain today and what is behind me that must stay behind is much less that it was the first time. And Yet, where I am going MUST be where I have not dared or been capable of before and what I will leave behind is clearly what I have clung to and been unwilling or unable to release before.

Highly metaphorical, I know, so what exactly would I be leaving behind? and What awaits when I leap off that cliff? To the first point, I am not sure that I know right now. I only know that holding on to it has been allowing me to slip back into spiritual and emotional sickness.  The central task in this step is to ask yourself how far are you willing to go? Am I ready to really and truly hand my life and my will over to the care of God? Get ready because here comes the insanity, not having done so is allowing me to fall back into sickness, threatens to get me drunk again and is potentially causing me to make other people miserable and my response to the central questions of this step today, at this moment is: I don’t know.  Not the response that I want to have, and I see in it the absolute insanity of my sickness, but there it is in full glory.

What if this time upon examination I realize that I have to change my views on sex, or am called upon to truly take up my calling and dedicate myself to being a prophet? What if, I have to let go of writing all together?  Or feel compelled by God to become a real minister?  What if my entire world view must change? Am I ready to join a religion or a church? Because I don’t actually have a defined understanding of God and maybe that is the problem! What at the end of the day am I willing to change, relinquish or bring into my life in order to achieve the promises entirely, have serenity and know that I am serving God and my fellow man at my best potential.

I suspect that moving past this and starting my next 4th through 9th step will illuminate the answers, but there is the rub eh? To get to those steps, I have to take a leap of faith, I have to drum up within myself the worst case scenario, assume that I must go that far and then say “yes, I am willing” – In short, I have to be Abraham with his son on the rock and blade in hand, ready to go to any lengths.  I don’t know, I doubt, I am not sure. I am afraid.

It isn’t all fear and negativity. I dream sometimes of a me for whom God has expunged fear, doubt, rage and frustration; A me without violence, who knows and understands the path of serenity, love and compassion well enough to teach it and who reaches first for spiritual solutions to all of his problems. I dream of a self that is patient and kind and loving; who pursues his dreams and goals, that is useful to himself, his family and his community. I dream of using my gifts in some way that it benefits the sea of humanity around me.  Though each of them frighten me because, I don’t know how to be sure what those paths or how to achieve any of it, or what I might miss over here if I do.  It all scares me, but I really do want it and I always have. I wonder (not doubt) what my wife would say if I told her I I want to go to divinity school – not saying that I do necessarily, but who knows right?

Anyway, today was more of a rambling attempt at self discovery than I real blog entry, but this is where I am at. God Bless us all

 

 

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Written by jamesjanus

March 12, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Problems and Prejudices with The Big Book of AA

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I want to start by saying that for me, where the Bible, all of the Sutra’s, the Tao Te Ching and every one of the library full of books I have read have failed, the Big Book of AA has succeeded.  It created for me, a path to God and today it is my Bible, there is every instruction I need to lead a spiritual, peaceful and most of all, sober life.  This is nothing short of a miracle, not only for what the program and the book have done for me, but what it had to overcome in order to do it, namely, my ego.  In recovery, being smart, analytic and defiant is a perfect recipe for failure and too often this type of personality does not make it.  Our mind is focused on finding flaws, issues, reasons to disagree and on uncovering the mechanics of everything.

When I first came to AA, I did this. I tore the Big Book apart, word by word and I started finding the psychological reasons that some of the Steps, the BB and the fellowship work. I was appalled at first, what terrible malignant genius was behind this?  I thought there must be some catch, some cultist purpose.  Then, I started learning the history and how much of the program was trial and error, how much was input from great minds like Carl Jung, whom I respected (I respected Bill more for translating his goofy existential language into concrete suggestions).  I learned too that there was nothing what-so-ever that AA was going to ask of me, beyond, not coming to meetings shitfaced.

Then, the most extra-ordinary thing happened, I took that keen analytic mind that had torn apart the texts of the great religions, great works of literature and philosophy and I simply shut it off, or rather turned the dial way down.  I don’t analyze the Big Book today, except to decipher what it is suggesting I do and how it relates to my own life and the more I come to that book with a different, less analytic and less defiant attitude, the more I seem to get out of the book and the fellowship.

I am encountering a growing number of people in recovery that express some dissatisfaction with the Big Book, or ignore it completely. Last night for example I heard a guy complaining about the book and when someone spoke to him he griped:

Even the book says this isn’t the only way, but there are people who tell me all of time that it is the only way

To clarify for anyone who shares this sentiment, what the book says is that AA is perhaps not the only way to get and stay sober, that they have no monopoly on it. However, the cold, hard reality is, that the Big Book, the program described in it and the fellowship ARE the only way to do AA. If you hear the promises and you want them, if you are looking for THIS spiritual solution, then the Big Book and the program within in it, are not negotiable.  I would suggest to anyone who disagrees and feels they know a better way than that described in the book, that they are either truly remarkable or very sick still with the problem of ego.

While it is true that the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking, one has to wonder why people that do not believe this show up at meetings? You wouldn’t major in Psychology if you didn’t believe in it’s value as a science would you?

I know, there are things that upon first read one can find fault or objection with in the Big Book, but there is the thing. There are some books that are written down, to a sort of lowest common denominator, ones that virtually anyone can read and find wonderful, the authors of these books took painstaking care to ensure it; we call them Easy Reads, Fluff books and they are the most common of books out there.  As a life long student of literature I can then also tell you about other books, uncompromising books, books that do not come to you but rather force you to come to them.  E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce wrote such books and I can tell you from experience that E.E. Cummings did not make it easy and was never going to step toward my point of view so I could understand. These are books that in order to get the fruits and the rewards from them, you are going to have to grow, change perspective and see things different than you did before.  In fact, the better part of the reward for seeking their understanding is that growth.

The Big Book is the same way. You will come to it, you will grow and learn and let loose all prejudice and control before you get anything from it. It is a perfect exercise and metaphor for how you are going to have to live your life in recovery if you want, not only to be sober, but also be happy joyous and free. Life isn’t going to come to you either, conform to your ideas, your rules, your woulds and shoulds. Instead you will have to learn to be humbled by it, grateful for it, grow in it and embrace challenge and change. You will need to let go of prejudice, fear, control and ego.

The end result is always the same and boils down to this; If AA is your chosen path

Read it looking for what fits you today, with gratitude and appreciation for the message and the men and women that put it into that book, shut down the ego and the critic. Look for what is right, rather than wrong and you might just find the promises coming true.

Read it with that “smart” brain of yours, disregard the suggestions and at best live on in misery with half measures, perhaps finding yourself back on a bar stool one day.

I guess this was a little bit ranty, but I feel strongly about this.

 

Written by jamesjanus

May 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm

The Spiritual Experience and I

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It is perhaps one of the things at the root of my craziness these last few days, and I have been crazy and my life has been crazy; that for a few brief days I could feel the presence of The Word, I could see the beautiful and the divine.  I am at my most confident and the height of my…”Muchness” when I can feel that presence, though I never, ever say that outloud, at least not in those words.

I don’t know what it is like or how it comes for other people, but for me, it always comes back to two things, writing and, for lack of a better word Information. I do not know why, but my conscious contact with God, comes less from kneeling down and praying, than sitting down to write.  In the average moment, my mind is the most interesting and distracting thing around. Constantly in motion in my head is a minimum of 5 different, focused, active and constant trains of thought, with literally hundreds more whirling around unfocused  and skipping across my consciousness  or running deeper in less conscious parts of my brain.

Done correctly however, when I sit down to write, everything can change, if I pause and try to feel idea, the problem, or simply the presence of The Word, then shortly after I begin writing everything can vanish and I  disappear too, thoughts and all, my mind is quiet and my whole being is a conversation between my fingers and God. I may not know what I am even writing once things get really cooking my fingers just seem to fly across the keyboard and words come out.  When I make it to this point and for some lingering time after it has past, I feel inside of me a presence that is dense and heavy, but powerful and good and what is more I feel the energy, the material, the matter of the universe around me and I given to the impression that it is information, the Ones and Zero’s of the divine and beautiful creation that is our universe and it doesn’t feel like something that is touching me, but rather like the rest of the same great fabric that I am a part of, not an extension of me, but the same as me; something of which all of the “ten thousand things” are just an expression. All expressed different, but all part of the same system, One

01000001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100101 01111000 01110000 01110010 01100101 01110011 01110011 01100101 01100100 00100000 01100100 01101001 01100110 01100110 01100101 01110010 01100101 01101110 01110100 00101100 00100000 01100010 01110101 01110100 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01110000 01100001 01110010 01110100 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110011 01100001 01101101 01100101 00100000 01110011 01111001 01110011 01110100 01100101 01101101 00101100 00100000 01001111 01101110 01100101

Like this, but different. I am not Neo, but it that is a very similar analogy to how it can feel.  This is my love, this is my understanding, this is my gift and my song, this is my meditation and conscious contact and every-day from here on out, I will plead to hear the word, feel the muses moving in me and see and understand the divine and beautiful, because I must, I must in order to transform, in order to be useful, in order to do what I meant to.

Written by jamesjanus

April 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

AA Suggestion/Wisdom

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that is in my mind today. I will make no big decisions or changes in my life until I have completed one full trip through the 12 steps.

Written by jamesjanus

February 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?

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I am not sure where the Universe is pushing me, what it has planned for me or what myself, my loves and my destination will look like in the near future. In other words, I am so entirely lost that there is very little I know and undertand at this point. I am not sure if I don’t know who I really am, or if I just don’t know how to be, accept and embrace who I really am. A few days ago those thoughts had me terribly bothered. Monday night, something happened and I couldn’t tell you what exactly, though my intuition tells me it was a spark, an ember of the fire that will lead me to a promised spiritual experience, one that I am yearning and working for. I have, more often than not, felt quite simply, grateful and positive since Monday night. I am still lost, much is still very unclear and I know little more about my destination than I where I am presently, but for now, I think that is just fine. I don’t know. I don’t know what God, or myself, or the world at large expects of me, in a broad and general sense. I do know a few things, such as, there are things I can do each day that are positive and necessary, that are helpful to others and will aide me in getting outside of myself. I can do some chores around my house, cook my family dinner, spend quality, honest time with my wife and kids, go to work and be productive, go to the gym and put in my best effort. I can read, pray and do step work and go to a meeting, share honestly about my experience, strength and hope and offer any aide I can to other alcoholics, which for now is limited to physical services like rides, sharing at the tables and trading phone numbers and calls. I can resist the temptation to go back and edit rambling entries like these, allow the imperfect to be just that and not worry about anything more than the action of writing, as a quiet meditation and a practice. 

I would like to thank AA, my friends there, those who started the whole thing and I would like to thank my Higher Power for the grace, strength and courage I have been given to go along with my existence and the existence of all other things. I am confused, I am uncertain, I am lost, but that is alright, because I don’t have the steering wheel anyway and I believe the power that does will get me where I need to be.

 

Gratitude.

Written by jamesjanus

February 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Choosing yourself

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your sobriety, your sanity over someone else is hard, and even when it is the right thing, for me it never feels like it.

Written by jamesjanus

January 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm

The Tao of the Fourth Step (Wu Wei)

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Taoism teaches Wu Wei, which translates to non-action and this can lead for most of us to some confusion. Wu Wei is not the same as laziness or doing nothing. The Taoists classify “action” as any movement against “nature”, against the current and flow of the energy in a universe. Wu Wei, is about letting life happen, being yourself and is the essence of the Serenity Prayer, Accept the things I cannot change and the courage (love) to change the things that Ithat can”, Wu Wei, leads to harmony and serenity.

It seems to me that Wu Wei is the perfect contemplation for steps 3 and 4, in which you become willing and then identify all of the things in yourself and your life that keep you from being in harmony, from moving with Wu Wei, I have seen it called “You-Wie” somewhere. The Universe and the flow of life are to us as raging water is to peebles, though we may plant ourselves and fight against it, it will move us and break us.

I was talking with my newphew last night after our meeting, which had focused on step four, and also about a fight he had with my wife and I. He broke down and cried when he spoke to Kim about the fight, feeling hurt himself, guilty for having hurt her and who knows what else. He indicated that he hated showing emotion like that in front of people, indeed that he hated feeling it. It occurred to me that for many, if not all alcohilics, and certainly for me, one of the central problems we have is a aversion to strong emotions and to discomfort. This is not owned by the alcoholic, it is a cultural tendancy to hide from emotion. Discomfort, Sadness, Anger, Frustration, Love, Pity. We hide the external characteristics like tears, laughter, physical tension from other people. We too seldom discuss how we feel and perhaps worste of all we do all that we can to avoid feeling and processing it ourselves, within our own solitude. Much of our culture encourages this. For the alcohlic, this is poison, for everyone it is not Wu Wei. We are wired like this, to feel, to emote, to have viscerl emotional reactions to everything around and within us. Fighting this, can only lead to misery and self destruction.

I suppose the Wu Wei here lies not only in choosing to let the emotion process, to not hide from it and indeed to share it with others, but in being spiritually and emotionally fit to react to it in a positive Wu Wei way, but I will get back to you on that one.

Written by jamesjanus

January 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm