Forgiveness

121. THE 21st CENTURY PLAGUE

This country, the United States (and others too, I imagine) has a disease. It’s crept over our land like a virus, infecting almost everyone who comes in contact with it. It’s covert to be sure; devious and deceptive, and it’s consuming us from the inside out. It’s slowly rotting our minds and spirits. Unless it’s recognized, admitted to, and subsequently dealt with, little can be done except sit back and, well, die. We don’t see or feel it as a killer, but it’s destroying every dream and hope we dare to envision. It’s the barrier of the present, and the cancer of our future. We wallow in this shared illusion thinking it protects us from either judgement by our peers, or retribution for our choices. It is, in fact turning us into statues, forcing us to stand catatonic in our own lives. In doing so we hand our power over to those unaffected few who are willing to take action, be they good or evil.

What IS this affliction? I call it the “Jerry Springer Syndrome.” It may sound funny at first, it’s not. Let me illustrate. Our society has become more and more comfortable moving through life as audience members rather than activists. Not only that, we are seeking to witness any stage where we are spotlighting those who are so-called train wrecks. In doing so we attempt to convince ourselves we’re better than those whose lives are supposedly falling apart. The glut of television shows in line with this theme is undeniable. Keep in mind most of this showcased human carnage is scripted to begin with. We THINK we are doing okay because we’re obviously NOT “those idiots.” The fantasy is we are making progress because so many others are falling behind. Our ego convinces us we are, by default, moving forward, when all we’re really doing is standing completely still, pointing fingers, laughing at, and judging others. As much as it disgusts me, I do find myself stepping over this line from time to time, and when I recognize it, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Every time I hear “what about?” or any version of it, I (mentally) run the other way. This type of distraction tactic is designed to dismiss responsibility as well as belittle the initial issue by attempting to point out there are other, bigger problems in need of attention. This kills the conversation and avoids any sort of shared solution. Such maneuvers are one hundred per-cent cowardice. Nothing this type of person spews from their pie hole has any merit whatsoever. They too are looking to surround themselves with those who are “worse” than they are. This type of action creates nothing. All it does is feed the ego of the person who practices such drivel.

This takes me back to a previous statement I’ve made elsewhere on this blog. “We cannot make the world a better place by struggling to get rid of what we don’t want. The ONLY way to change the world for the better is to create what we do want. Eradicating evil does nothing to replace the void left behind once it’s been purged. When our ambition is to destroy, we unintentionally align with the very energy we are intent on eliminating; in essence, we become the enemy.” One cannot grow a garden by picking out a patch of earth and pulling weeds. Crops do not magically sprout from the absence of unwanted growth. It seems all too simple, right?

I do my darndest to not compare myself to others, good or bad. This is a trap, and the first step toward practicing what I’ve been talking about. I DO, however, compare who I am, who I want to be, with who and where I was. Even then I do my best to do so without self-judgement, which I fail at more often than not.

As a final note there is another ugly side-effect to this course of action, and it’s reprehensible. Ask this question, ask it a lot and every day, and mull it over very carefully.

“Who needs the most Love?”

Is it the group or individual who collects it in torrents because we feel they’re productive, beautiful, or famous… or is it the crowd or person devoid of compassion we judge to be lazy, dirty, and common? Our society has a tendency to praise and elevate those who don’t need it and belittle and step on anyone who hasn’t “earned” it. Some say there are those who are undeserving of Love; pearls before swine as it were. Whoever avoids practicing unconditional Love will inevitably manifest its opposite which is of course, fear. Whatever we express, we magnify within. If Love is your go-to reaction to the world, your stock increases when it’s communicated, likewise if suspicion and disapproval are the signs you wave at everything, pretty soon this is all you’ll have for yourself. Empathy, tolerance, and most of all, forgiveness are such rare commodities, yet we put all of life’s value on worthless expressions. It’s no wonder the people who insist on taking the high road make waves and are eventually targeted by the masses; such behavior threatens the group consciousness of the human tribe, and we all know what happened to those select few in history.

Standing alone and projecting kindness is stronger than all the rest of mankind standing together in shared hatred. So, the real question is, how brave are you?

I know I’m willing to give it a shot.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

75. A MAD-LIB FOR ADDICTS

cookie monster

 

Before I get a ton of hate mail from those who say addiction isn’t funny, I agree, it’s not. It does eventually become extremely important to be able look back on our past and learn how to not beat ourselves up over events we cannot change. Some of the funniest stories I’ve heard are in A.A. meetings. Obviously I’m sworn to secrecy, but it’s nice to know that it’s possible we can eventually laugh at those times that challenged us the most.  Nothing I have done that hurt others holds any kind of humor, that’s for sure, but there are plenty of things I have done to myself to supply more than enough amusement. Looking at these episodes of poor judgement and incomprehensible decision-making is, in my opinion, an excellent way to help strip the ego. The trick here is to look in the mirror and practice forgiveness rather than remorse. Doing the latter only fuels the need to be seen as a victim. Sharing these moments will not only help you find common ground with those willing to help, it will rid you of the “cringe” factor the memories may dredge up. Shame is one of the most draining and damaging of emotions. Getting beyond the need to express this concerning your past is one of the healthiest things you can do. Remember, self-actualized people are quick to laugh at themselves and are self-accepting.

If you are currently in a place where the pain is overwhelming, my prayers are with you. If real recovery is in your future please believe that what lies ahead isn’t ALL drama and business, there will be times of joy and discovery. A huge part of recovery is learning how to re-connect to feelings that have been forgotten, misplaced, misdirected, and abandoned. Management of expression is absolutely central to mental health.

I cannot use a fill-in-the-blank format for this entry, WordPress does not have this option. Please use a separate piece of paper and simply match the numbers. The choices I have provided for the blanks make things a bit more specific than your typical mad-lib. Trust me, it’ll come out much funnier this way. Try to fill out your form without scrolling all the way down. You may also highlight the top section, then print separately. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Confessions of an Addict-

  1. verb, past tense ______________
  2. object _______________
  3. public event _______________
  4. body part _______________
  5. body part _______________
  6. famous person _______________
  7. sport _______________
  8. a food _______________
  9. a profession _______________
  10. a possession, can be plural _______________
  11. low number _______________
  12. notorious man _______________
  13. notorious woman _______________
  14. number _______________
  15. weird characters/people _______________
  16. object, plural _______________
  17. a phrase meant to insult _______________
  18. adverbial phrase (how did you jump? i.e. …..like a madman, without hesitation, for no good reason, etc.) _______________
  19. a dangerous action (i.e. – running into traffic, etc.) _______________
  20. article of clothing _______________
  21. something yucky _______________
  22. verb, past tense _______________
  23. object _______________

 

( ) = an optional word, choose one or the other.

  1. I once got so drunk I ______1._______ (a) an _____2._______ during _____3.______.
  2. I failed the roadside DUI test because I could not touch my ______4. ______ to my ______5.______.
  3. When I get wasted my friends say I act like ______6.______ trying to play ______7.______.
  4. I once came out of a blackout surrounded by empty ______8.______ boxes and dressed up like a ______9.______.
  5. Once, I was so desperate for money I gathered (all) my ______10._______ and sold (it) them at a pawn shop for ______11.______ dollars.
  6. My mug shot looked like ______12.______ had a kid with ______13.______ who obviously hadn’t bathed for ______14.______ weeks.
  7. My nightmares used to include ______15.______ throwing ______16.______ at me while shouting ______17.______.
  8. Someone once posted an online video that showed of me completely sloshed, running ______18.______ while ______19.______ just so I could win a bet.
  9. I once went to work so hung over I was wearing my ______20.______ inside out and my breath smelled like______21.______ .
  10. There was a time where I would have ______22.______(on) a ______23.______ if it meant I could be free of my demons.

So, have fun with this. It should serve as a reminder to some (and a promise to others) that living on the other side of addiction is ALWAYS going to be better than dying inside it.

I look forward to hearing some of your responses to this. Feel free to post what you came up with and let others share in your laughter!

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

58. SUREFIRE SELF-DESTRUCTION

 

best fire

Do not let the fire of your hatred destroy the only person capable of putting it out.

35. PLEASE STOP BY…..

open

Welcome!

I write a blog dedicated to the subject of ground-floor self-help topics. My introduction says a lot about where I come from and who I am. Further subjects address different areas of interest. I’m looking for new subscribers and will respond to all who care to leave a message.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

33. “In the house…

“In the house that is LOVE, chiseled into the floor of the basement, is the word forgiveness.”

floor

I welcome you to visit my blog. Please follow me and feel free to comment as much as you would like, I will acknowledge all.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

32. “The right …

“The right lived life does its greatest work in the final hour.”

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

29. IN SEARCH OF BEAUTY

Observing the Moon

I’ve always been intrigued by the night sky. As a boy I was privileged to have lived in the Colorado mountains far from the “pollution” of city lights. Sometimes, long after my parents had gone to sleep, I would quietly get out of bed and sneak outside just to look up and wonder. When the moon was new, the milky way, that massive arm of our galaxy, would shine in all its glory arcing from horizon to horizon. I knew some of the constellations and occasionally I would spot a shooting star. I never felt small or insignificant compared to the vastness that lay before me; what I did feel was connection to infinity.

Strangely enough it never occurred to me to try a more comprehensive approach until I was an adult. In my mid twenties (the late 1980’s) I was getting ready to attend a Pink Floyd concert. In anticipation of the upcoming event I had gone out and bought a nice pair of binoculars. One evening I happened to notice a spectacular full moon rising. On a whim I grabbed my new field glasses and set my eyes to something I had never truly seen. There before me, in detail I had never bothered to explore, was another world. Another world! I’m telling you for a fact the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I couldn’t stop looking. Eventually I bought a telescope and continued my gaze to even deeper discoveries.

It bothered me a little that I had completely ignored  what was probably the most beautiful thing I had ever seen up until that point. I took its presence for granted and I began to wonder what else I had treated with the same attitude. This thought was put on hold as my alcoholism (which had begun several years earlier) began to assert itself. Soon everything was either bleak, boring, or annoying. Life quickly became self-centered. Nothing met my so-called standards so disappointment was the only outcome. Those who helped me get past the chaos and disorder worked tirelessly to bring me back to sanity and beyond. Along the way they encouraged an attitude of gratitude which now is permanently woven into my being.

I began to see the smallest of things in new ways. Colors popped, my surroundings looked new and exciting. I began to pay attention to how everything is symbiotic. I realized that whatever created me also created the world that surrounded me. I’ve said it before, “I believe nothing exists that isn’t supposed to” which means that everything must have some sort of purpose. My respect for the smallest of life forms skyrocketed. That spider that used to give me the creeps I can now let crawl into my hand while I gently place him outside. The same life-force that compels me to survive is the same that pushes this little animal to do the same.

I now see the beauty in everything. Ugliness is an illusion, a judgment created and used to satisfy the human need to rank and label. All that surrounds us is sculpture, all we hear is music, all we communicate is poetry, and all we do is part of the harmonious dance of the universe.

Some may question the need, or perhaps the ability to see this quality in everything. Can I see the beauty in the starving children of the world? You’re damn right I can, if I didn’t see the potential to change it into something inspirational I would never want to. How about in the carnage left once violence has taken place? Yes, I see what has survived, what will ultimately prevail, and what will be learned that must never be repeated. For those that seem lost, the beauty of hope prevails. For those who live a life of cruelty, the beauty of redemption exists. For those who constantly criticize, the beauty of acceptance can be attained. For those who are vindictive, the beauty of forgiveness is available.

Expression of this quality is a gift not only to yourself, but to all those you associate with. Do I still look for fault and criticize things? Yes, absolutely, but always with the intent to create something better, or at least present solutions instead of problems. I consciously begin tasks and challenges by first knowing my involvement can transform them into higher beauty. Do I recognize some things as having more beauty than others? Yes. I’m not beyond that yet; but keep in mind I  know it’s in everything at some level, and I feel it’s my duty to find and acknowledge it . Actually, I think it’s ultimately everyone’s job to take what’s in front of them and make it better by expanding its beauty so much that it can no longer be ignored or hidden.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

20. APPROACHING LIFE POLITELY

tr

When I was in second grade our teacher, Mrs. Larson, spent an entire day on manners. It made a great impression on me. I learned to open doors not just for girls, but anyone. I learned to say “Mr.” and “Miss or Mrs.” to those I approached (especially strangers) as a way of acknowledging someone with dignity. I learned to show a graceful respect for everyone no matter their appearance or age.  I’ve often wondered how far and to whom her influence has carried itself. Forty years later the ripples in my pond are still there.

I learned very quickly how important politeness is. Some think of it as an attempt at being self-centered or above reproach using such words as snotty, conceited, pretentious, or arrogant to describe this attitude.  I do indeed see how it  might be played as leverage to try and rise above others.  This is not the proper definition nor execution of what I’ve come to understand. Courtesy is the act of putting even the smallest needs for others first; always. This is easily understood when its opposite is realized. Those we know who are the most rude and cocky constantly put themselves first in every situation. They are unkind and impolite. Their self-perceived priorities take precedence. They are extremely unreliable in every situation because when the need for help arises, it’s given only when it benefits them as well.

Putting the needs of others first isn’t just the entire picture. I suppose one could do this outwardly while hiding feelings resentment and jealousy. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done this, especially in traffic, but I’m also happy to announce that these incidents are becoming exceedingly rare. Being polite isn’t about how I want others to see me, it’s about how I want to see myself. If someone else benefits from something I’ve done, it’s a side-effect, not the goal. I used to become frustrated when my attempts at being civilized weren’t being returned. Someone would yell at me until I finally sunk to their level and yelled back. Not anymore. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of times where I will step up and be a MAN, raising my voice appropriately when the situation calls for it, but I will never be a jerk or insulting.

Do not think that politeness is equal with weakness. It’s not an invitation  to those seeking to take advantage of a peaceful situation. Upon the contrary, keeping a calm and patient exterior (as well as interior) lets nothing unwanted influence you.  Remember, frustration always commits suicide. It cannot survive without a captive audience so it self-destructs. As soon as its given attention it has a reason to re-assert itself which is why the followers of a great many historical blowhards are just as annoying as their leaders.

At the very least ask yourself these questions. Why not be kind? Why not be patient? Why not be empathetic? Why not be generous? Besides, who really does want to become rude, impatient, indifferent, and selfish anyway?

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

14. THE STRENGTH OF COMPASSION

heart water

Once, a long time ago, I was witness to a hit and run. Never really saw the car, but I was the man who stopped to help the victim. She remained conscious and I remained calm, all the while telling her that things were going to be just fine. I knew they weren’t. She was bleeding from her eyes and ears and was concerned about her husband getting upset she was going to miss work that day. I took off my coat and gently placed it over her, worried that the cold, snowy ground was going to compound problems of shock. The collision was so hard that her shoes bounced off my windshield some forty feet away, so my gut feeling was that there was much more injury than could be diagnosed by casual observation. I continued a simple reassuring conversation with her, never letting on what I really thought. My only goals were to keep her conscious and to try and stop her from panicking. Within minutes the paramedics showed up. Her condition in this short span had already showed signs of deterioration. The blood flow from her injuries was increasing and she had lost her eyesight. I never asked her what her name was. I guess I didn’t need to. They whisked her off, and I continued to work, wondering if she was even going to live. Seventeen years later, I still wonder.

What behavior marks the pinnacle of our aspirations? That morning I spent ten minutes lying to a total stranger, and yet at the time I knew I’d done the right thing. That morning I treated someone differently than I might have wanted them to treat me, and looking back, I wouldn’t hesitate doing the same thing again. That morning, though tragic for someone else, forced me to abandon what I normally thought of as proper conduct and embrace a much more powerful idea, kindness.

The “Golden Rule” that all of us are familiar with is something I cannot fully endorse anymore. It is a good idea and a great place to start, but it can be abusive and heartless if practiced with too much passion. I am forty-eight years old. I carry no shame with my age and I never will. For one, I’ve never associated how old I am with who I am. Now I ask you, just because I carry this belief close to my heart, does this give me free rein to ask all who cross my path what their age is? There is no doubt that this is indeed treating others the way I want to be treated, but the very idea of doing this is selfish and inconsiderate. The “Golden Rule” applies in this situation only when I change the angle of approach by generalizing the moment; would I want a total stranger asking me a question I was unprepared or unwilling to answer? Of course not.

The second situation that seemed to violate my ethics all those years ago was lying. My heart knew this was a circumstance where the outcome could easily end with the death of the person I was talking to. Yes, it did cross my mind; what I would want to hear if the roles were reversed? If I felt the end might be near, would I like the chance to say goodbye to those I loved? Would I want to express a final thought? Would I want to ask forgiveness for things I could no longer correct? These are harsh questions and not to be lightly asked when a life hangs in the balance. I suppose if death were eminent, that there was no chance living, then yes, by all means I would want the truth. Even then I suppose I’d want it tempered with reassurance and faith that what awaited was not to be feared. I had no idea what lay in store for this woman an hour from then, but I had a grasp of what the immediate future held. Instead of handing her the facts, I opted to give her nothing but hope. It wasn’t just for her, but to a small degree, me as well. I had to share a belief that things were okay, if nothing else so that she could hang on long enough for those who could bring real aid to have a better chance.

One of my mentors says, “When facing the choice to be right or to be kind comes up, choose kindness.” This means never saying to someone “I told you so.” There are of course times that require a blunt approach, but they always seem to come before any given incident, not after. I feel potentially negative honesty is best used as a warning. It also comes in handy to point out unrecognized acts of self-destruction, but even this is still nothing more than a warning to not repeat oneself. Basically, I believe that “Honesty precedes, while compassion follows.”

To live compassionately is my goal. To be empathetic (not sympathetic) towards all I meet is  the life I demand of myself. To align with another individual’s priorities, even for just a moment, erases my ego. I cannot be “self-centered” when I become “they-centered.” This is a blessing of the highest sort. All the pain, anguish, bitterness, hostility, angst, regret, and fear that had so effectively eroded  my life was the direct result of the storms of my selfishness. The peace that compassion continues to feed me, strengthens me. May it strengthen all of us.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

8. MY FAVORITE BUMPER STICKER

Sunset_2007-1

I had this bumper sticker printed up years ago and handed them out for free to anyone willing to take one. While it still makes me laugh, I also consider it a very important question.  It’s a little like hearing someone complain about whiners. Not only are they joining in with the same crowd they are trying to distance themselves from, now they’re center stage. I think this is why we should “Love thine enemy as thyself.”

If tolerance is what we want to project, are we not obligated to turn this attitude towards those who receive it the least? When mankind experiences pain somewhere in its “body” shouldn’t this demand care and healing? We seem to point towards what isn’t working in our society and do our best to fight it rather than help it. We praise that which is already doing well and insult what isn’t functioning properly. In my opinion this attitude is destructive and immoral.

No one wants to be around a hypocrite. People that do this are fooling themselves into believing that by putting everyone else down, they don’t have to work at doing anything to look good. We witness this unethical “sleight-of-hand” all the time in various incarnations. The “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” syndrome is, unfortunately, very common.  “No one does what I tell them to do” equals “I’m perfect, they’re flawed.” “No one comes up with better solutions than me” equals “I’m brilliant and they’re stupid.” “Others don’t do nearly as much work as me” equals “I’m productive, they’re useless.” “Everyday I fight bad drivers on the way to work” equals “I’m courteous, they’re rude.” All of these are hypocritical attitudes. No one is perfect. This is not a generalized judgment; I simply mean that there is always room for improvement.  The trap of thinking you’re beyond reproach is to invite a lifestyle that will convince itself there’s no need for progress.   Those who try to position themselves into a brighter spotlight by negative promotion lose all credibility. They don’t realize their audience is  instinctively aware that they’re unwilling to become better.

I would love to think I am past this kind of behavior but I’m not. On occasion I catch myself playing the victim. My moments of “poor me” are a lot less pronounced than they used to be, but at least I have the ability to recognize them. This “role” leaves a bitter taste, I assure you.  I’ve learned  there are countermeasures for this habit.

  1. I stop trying to be better than the rest of the crowd, I simply commit to being better than I used to be.
  2. My personal standards are far beyond what others expect of me.
  3. I acknowledge where talent lies. When I’m seen as someone who gives credit where credit is due, I notice people are more eager to work as a team. Everyone wants some sort of recognition for their contributions. Sometimes nothing more than a “Thank You” makes all the difference, especially when it’s done in public. I know it does for me.

I think it’s amazing just how many don’t do this. It’s too bad that the ones who do this stand out so prominently. They are a rare breed; I wish they weren’t.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood