Ethics

43. ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES

infinity

“Where understanding is present, fear is absent. Where fear is absent, love exists. Where love exists, life persists. Where life persists, the possibilities are endless.”

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

40. A VERY SHORT STORY…..

short story 001

18. BEING TOUGH

00000000000000000000000000000

When I was young I got into a lot of fights. I don’t recall ever starting a single one. They were all  reactionary. It always took a lot of shoving before I finally shoved back. I never threw the first punch; didn’t really have the guts for it. This isn’t to say I wasn’t an instigator of sorts. I was self-centered, loud, opinionated, and downright strange. My attitude and behavior rubbed many the wrong direction. I never felt as if I were being a jerk nor was I conscious of how disruptive I could be; it’s just that my manners didn’t always put others first, something I eventually learned, thank God.

The desire to solve situations from a state of anger is the easily one of the most common routes traveled, especially for men. From playgrounds to the world stage we are witness to its evidence on a daily basis. There are other ways with similar properties, laziness, ignorance, apathy, victimization, and so on. These paths are so worn that very little grows here. Do not take this metaphor lightly. Truly, when  we embrace the easy routes, nothing will manifest towards challenging us to be better. We think it’s tough to put up a fight, stand our ground, and defend what we believe in. Upon the contrary actually. The REAL way to personify toughness  is to walk away from a fight, change our minds, and  defend those we don’t agree with. To be tough, really tough, we must do those things that are actually tough to do.

When I began the journey out of my fog, my mentor asked me what I wanted to accomplish from the challenges that lay ahead. I stated my goal was to prove to him just how tough I could be. He said that was my ego talking; it wasn’t. I knew that a truly better life was something not very many choose to pursue. The way was never clearly marked, but the promise of capturing something few could claim to own was all the invitation I needed. What I speak of is a life lived in constant conscious improvement. I refer the triad of existence – mind, body, and spirit. Feed these three the proper nutrients and they will both grow and serve. Personally my list is rather clear. Every day I seek to become a little more healthy, informed, kind, productive, empathetic, honest, etc. Please notice the qualities I have sought to expand are my interior ones. I focus NO energy at all on such things as a bigger car, increased power, more money, or a better reputation. These pursuits are, believe it or not, the easier way. They may seem difficult at first, but when compared to strengthening the point of origin, they’re child’s play. I have nothing against a better exterior, but in order for it to be fulfilling, at least to me, it must be the result of living from the inside out.

I dare you to go forth and become the toughest person you’ve ever met. Drop the need to be right. Be in a constant state of politeness. Look the homeless in the eye and smile while you think a kind thought. Be willing to give without expecting or asking for compensation. Learn a new language. Defend the absent. Ask for help. Learn how to play an instrument. Read Shakespeare. Show your emotions. Throw or give away all the stuff you don’t use anymore. Stop complaining and start praising. Do these things sound tough to do? Damn right; some of them for some, all of them for others. Obviously the list could continue with a plethora of examples.

There are a few ways to determine your toughest route, so try these suggestions.

  •  Make a list of your fears.

      Decide to, one at a time, eradicate irrational fears. They serve nothing and take up too much room in an already crowded life. Not wanting to enter a dark alley in a bad part of town is a rational fear. That little spider on the counter top poses a zero threat, really. This is an irrational fear.

  •  Recognize that we see ourselves in others.

     This is literally the fastest way to pinpoint what needs improving. Don’t believe me? Try leaving for work with plenty of time and see if the traffic is even slightly annoying. When you are late those who are also late will get in your way. When you’re early you won’t care who’s late (or thoughtless) around you.

  •  Pick a mentor.

      All of us admire someone. Most of us know at least one person no wind could move. They are at peace in any situation. They probably have a good deal of abundance in their lives that reflect upon both themselves and their environment. There are of course others in the public eye that can be looked to with the same definition. Remarkably, many of these people choose to share and teach how they remain in an unwavering attitude concerning their commitments to a better way of living. Mimic their behavior and you will reproduce similar results for yourself.

  •  Slow down somewhat and choose a noble course of action.

     When we give a little more time to allow ourselves a choice of actions (rather than the habitual or instinctive ones) we open a window to view alternative courses. I feel we almost always blindly choose the easiest (or perhaps most commonly used) method for approaching  how we “take offence” or “present defense.” For instance when someone insults you, try saying that you were just about to remark on the nice shirt they were wearing. Nothing like water to put out a fire.

  •  Embrace the idea of sacrifice.

   There is no reward without the intent of sacrifice. When time is needed to accomplish what must be done, some leisure activities are usually forfeit. When money is needed to seed an idea, frivolous spending must come to a stop. When weight is to be lost, chocolate must stay in the candy isle. Most people are reluctant to give up pleasure and replace it with what they think might be pain, but it’s all relative anyway. The idea of sacrifice can easily be equated with taking chances. This attitude can keep us in a falsely labeled “safe zone”. How many chances have you taken that improved your life? How many chances have you not taken that ended in regret? The opposite is true of course for both sides, but let’s be honest, taking chances is always far and away the more positive route. Ask yourself these questions, and you’ll see why it’s vital to occasionally step away from where you’ve convinced yourself your comfortable.

  • Stop looking backwards while walking forward.

     Take your focus off what might repeat itself from and place your attention on the future. This is how to envision and motivate real change. When we choose to see only what’s behind us, constantly fearing the past is doomed to repeat itself, any kind of  progress is going to be labeled as luck, or even worse, we’re going to feel unworthy of reward. Walking one way and looking another may gain a tiny bit of road, but in the end it will eventually cause a major accident. A life lived reactivity is the way of cowardice. It’s filled with excuses like “what if?” and “how come?” An active life defines true courage. Excuses do not exist here; trust, and determination do. This does not mean we should move forward without at least a rear-view mirror. Reminders of where we don’t want to be can put a little more speed in our progress, just don’t stop looking ahead.

So…..are you tough or easy? Me? I have both characteristics just like most, but the proof that I’m a lot tougher than I used to be presents itself as unexpected abundance, something I’m confidant will never stop expanding.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

5. 12 STEP MEETINGS – BEHIND THE DOORS

people helping

If you are reading this, it’s possible you’ve considered approaching one of these meetings as a way to eliminate whatever it is you seek to remove from your life. There are of course many groups for a variety dependencies. All follow the same basic pattern, and all are excellent choices for beginning a new way of living. Some are held in homes, some in semi-public places, and others in clubs. An on-line search will reveal locations and phone numbers. Here is a link to a nationwide network of groups-   http://www.sobernation.com/list-of-12-step-programs/   Dues are never required, but donations are gently encouraged from those who can afford them. Some groups are “closed”, meaning they are intended only for those directly involved in seeking recovery. Most are “open”, which encourages friends and family members to be welcome in order to support guests. Other subgroups include:  women only, men, Spanish speaking, GLBT, and so on. They exist so attendees can open up in a  more comfortable, less-vulnerable environment. Each meeting usually starts with standard readings from the appropriate literature. Before the period where members speak, you will be asked (along with everyone else in the room) to identify yourself  by first name only and to state your suspected affliction. This is the only time you should be prompted  to say anything publicly, and even then, no one should chastise if you choose to remain silent. When the period for sharing starts, it usually goes to the person who talks first. I have been to meetings where people call randomly upon others to share after they are done. No pressure here; if you don’t want to say anything, simply turn it down. Most meetings will last only one hour. They will be concluded  when the  designated chairperson makes a few announcements and asks some final questions. In the end, all will stand,  join hands, and repeat aloud “The Lord’s Prayer.” This is a condensed version of what will probably happen. There are actually still some meetings where you’re allowed to smoke, and these will identify themselves as such through an official schedule. Coffee, tea, and water is usually available.

If you’re anything like me, there’s some apprehension ahead of passing through those doors. I wondered what kind of people would be waiting. Who would look at me and suspect what I wanted no one else to know?   It felt like I was walking into court. My fears vanished when I realized that any given room may have a doctor, student, housewife, prostitute, cop, teacher, business owner, criminal, grandmother, soldier–I’m sure you get the picture. Basically, there is no stereotype for identifying who might be sitting across from you. What they all will have in common with each other (and you) is that they found themselves in the same place. Although each person’s past will be different, there will be plenty of mutual understanding and support for present circumstances.

In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons the “anonymous” label  exists, is to level the playing field. Here, where privacy is revered, there is no authority–nor are there other titles designed to establish any kind of pecking order. Each individual stands upon their own accomplishments within the program and believe me, that is enough. What is said in confidentiality is promised to be kept at that level. Without this ethic in place, it’s doubtful many would open up far enough to allow any kind of healing to take place.

The 12 steps themselves are a set of declarations, principles, oaths, and actions structured to rebuild a life of health, abundance, and love. They CANNOT be self-interpreted. They must be approached through a trusted and disciplined source. IF you decide to attend and make a commitment to following the curriculum, you will need to seek out a willing sponsor. Success  will not come to fruition without one. As far as I’m concerned, friends are not allowed to be considered. Those you choose must decide to accept you and must be impartial to your goals and feelings. They will tell you the truth, despite how they think you may react. Please read my post “HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK”  at this link for further clarification on this subject https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/04/how-to-know-if-you-are-on-the-right-track/

Approaching this environment is not as overwhelming as you might think. The people here are highly motivated if not overjoyed to help you. If you thought you were alone in your pain, that’s the first idea that’s going out the window. Every meeting has in its traditions a statement that reads something like this, “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop.”  That’s it; nothing else will be asked of you.

May you find the peace and happiness that evades so many. I wish you the best that life can offer.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

3. HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK

maze-primary

Sometimes, when we look toward that which we desire most, there seems to be an impassable labyrinth of nettle and pitfalls between where we stand and where we want to be. The potential journey seems so overwhelming that we simply never start no matter what  reward awaits us on the other side. Those who have made their way through this obstacle course will always tell you it was worth it. Desperation often equals determination, meaning that those who have nothing to lose will attempt anything to gain something. This does not necessarily mean one must hit bottom before making an attempt at a better life.

If you are willing to step forward into this unknown, there are three things I can suggest you to do that will at least let you know you’re moving in the right direction.

First– Follow the voice of someone on the other side.

What this means is that you cannot take navigation from those standing next to you. They don’t know the way any more than you do. Call out for guidance. Someone will always answer, but this doesn’t mean they are somewhere you want to be. These people must have in their lives what you want in yours. The best you are liable to get from them is the best they have to offer. Scrutinize and question, so you can be led by the elite. Once you have set foot on the proper path, your chosen leader will be able to see you, but you won’t be able to see them, so following instruction is critical. Here, where the next step is often obscured, we are not allowed to question the voice. Trust is absolutely necessary or progress will not manifest. If you do step in a direction of your own choosing, your guide will most likely lose sight of you, and starting over is often the only option. This isn’t necessarily the end of the attempt, but if you start over too much, your mentor will likely give up in favor of someone with more determination.  Keep in mind that others are waiting in line behind you for that same voice to lead them through the thicket.

Second– Allow criticism.

We cannot improve by repeating the same patterns of behavior that keep us bound to that which we no longer want. As I stated in the previous step, we must receive direction from those who have a high quality of life. This means we are going to get a lot of instruction on what must be abandoned. Old behaviors and thought patterns will have to be eliminated, while new skills and ideas will be offered. This will come in the form of criticism. There is a way to take it with honor and grace. You must drop the need to defend yourself and realize no one who truly cares for you will say anything that is not based in love. It won’t feel good at the moment, but being open to this is absolutely necessary.

Third– KNOW that you are probably going to get pissed at those who are telling you what to do.

I was blessed with the intuition this was probably going to happen no matter what. It did indeed come in torrents, but when I knew ahead of time that this emotion was a constant  potential, it didn’t feel nearly as bad as I knew it could have. When I first quit drinking I spent an entire year angry. I never let it disable me though.  I always took what was said as the truth, no matter what; which meant I was wrong a lot. Basically, I was mad at myself and this only served to continue renewing my determination to stick to the path.

These three steps can be applied to any area of self-improvement you wish to develop. Look to the skills you already possess. It will become clear this process automatically took place. Everything we learn, from driving a car to pursuing a martial art, will involve asking for and taking guidance while allowing for evaluation of our progress. Keep in mind I am not talking about becoming self-taught at any particular skill; one can go only so far with this attitude. I’m speaking of becoming a master at whatever we choose to focus on.

That’s it. This the best map I can offer on the subject. I know it’s not much, but it’s a heck of a lot better that proceeding with earplugs and a blindfold.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood