06:34-ish. After an afternoon of total turmoil again, and then a lovely evening with the boys home (they were incredibly creative, doing archery, Lego, drawing, playing together on the rope swing and even playing their own kind of music on the piano, I think it’s the sunshine warming their bones, and the increased evening light after the time change), I went to bed silently thinking of the Step Three AA prayer, or at least, my own version of it. Here is the original:
“We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: “God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!” We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.
“We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend, or spiritual adviser. But it is better to meet God alone than with one who might misunderstand. The wording was, of course, quite optional so long as we expressed the idea, voicing it without reservation. This was only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once.” — Inc, A.A. World Services. Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition (p. 63). A.A. World Services, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Yes the terminology is masculine and Christian-based, but it the book was written (anonymously) by small group of kind and generous men who were based in eastern USA in 1939 (AA’s founder, Bill W., was born in 1895), so no harm was intended; it’s simply a product of its period. Women, and people of all denominations, colour and socio-economic background were welcomed to the group as well, even back then, which is saying something.
I woke up feeling so grateful just for the plain fact of being warm, cosy, relaxed and alone, and it being still dark out, meaning that I still had time to meditate and write. By meditate I don’t mean get out a little round cushion, some incense and a singing bowl (all though at my most spiritually high period last year, I was doing that, minus the incense). I mean just lying there, in the dark, and letting my thoughts kind of relax and float around together. It was sort of like looking at them in a soup, gently stirring them around, except it wasn’t me doing the stirring… no perhaps that’s not a close enough analogy… it was in fact like that old expression I once heard a Buddhist practitioner say to me, to explain it, way back when I was in university: “Mind like sky.” Just sort of watching clouds go by, without getting attached to them, nor even over-analyzing them.
I could understand mind-like-sky theory back then, and maybe at times I was even doing the practice at other times, without knowing it, but I could not put the theory and the practice together. I mention this because a metaphor is only as helpful as it is helpful, so if these metaphors interfere with progress I believe we should just let them go and they may come back to us or not, depending on their helpfulness in a given moment. As it turned out, that metaphor from 20 years ago only really clicks for me in this moment, and then in a future moment, it may no longer work; so I now let it slide away again.
After a good long time of this (maybe 30 to 60 mins or so; I did not look at a clock, I usually don’t, in order not to stimulate the neocortex, knowing since it was still dark out that I still had some time), I had a few small epiphanies about my “purpose” with regards to my work. As it turned out my purpose with regards to career, for the moment at least, was to be very small and specific and unglamorous, sort of akin to being a custodian’s assistant at a library, sorting books for shelving, or taking them out and dusting them and putting them back.
I felt so happy when I had this minor epiphany! I used to get them a lot when I was private-journalling. Now if I can only make it stick, and hold onto it, and make it happen. But for that, I will need to always “offer myself to God.” I realize that now, after more than a year of trying and failing. The minute I myself try to control things, in this sobriety journey, is the minute I fail and have to start all over.
So I called my tree by her name, realizing perhaps that I had lost my connection with her when I started focussing on details of this blog rather than connecting with my version of “god.”
To me the tree is not exactly god but a section of god, or a portal to god. Now I worry that having started this blog I will make it trite by referring to it as “Tree.” If you are reading this please be aware that I now realize that although it’s true I have this deep connection with this specific tree, or had, at least, at one point, I have temporarily lost it by inadvertently “commercializing” it. So now I shall refer it just as I used to: Universe, divine power, greater power, or the many other names I once used to refer to this vast and benevolent and creative energy that I had once learned to tap into so freely. Sometimes it might still be tree, or Tree (with a capital) — the point is, the name matters not.
So I had that little epiphany, and felt very glad, and then got out of bed to get my laptop, and as usual, turned the electric kettle on to boil water for coffee, but would forget to fill the press with boiled water later, after it had boiled, so I still have no coffee. And the time is getting close to running out before I have to get on with my morning duties.
Before I go, I will mention this one last thing. The AA “Big Book” is an incredible resource, and so marvellously written. It is opened and curated by Bill W., AA’s founder who was an amazing storyteller and eloquent writer. When I went to copy the prayer, above (which I usually say by heart except in my own words), I first saw the opening of the book, which I had not seen in a long time, and I felt called to also copy that here, now. So I will:
“WAR FEVER ran high in the New England town to which we new, young officers from Plattsburg were assigned, and we were flattered when the first citizens took us to their homes, making us feel heroic. Here was love, applause, war; moments sublime with intervals hilarious. I was part of life at last, and in the midst of the excitement I discovered liquor. I forgot the strong warnings and the prejudices of my people concerning drink. In time we sailed for “Over There.” I was very lonely and again turned to alcohol.
“We landed in England. I visited Winchester Cathedral. Much moved, I wandered outside. My attention was caught by a doggerel on an old tombstone:
“Here lies a Hampshire Grenadier
Who caught his death
Drinking cold small beer.
A good soldier is ne’er forgot”
Inc, A.A. World Services. Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition (p. 1). A.A. World Services, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I’ll leave you with that for now, since I must go.
I love you lots, whoever you are, wherever you are, but that actually means nothing, perhaps to you… meaning that I am nothing… though it means something to me. What I guess I mean is, there is a loving power out there for anyone willing to open their hearts to it, even if you are like me, wary of religion and skeptical of everything… it really is there. I don’t know how else to describe it, and it is not mine to describe… it is yours to tap into
one sober person
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